The fresh waters of Lake Washington meet the brine of Puget Sound within Seattle’s limits, a fact of nature that could perhaps symbolize the city's clash of characters. On one hand, there’s the influx of young professionals who have driven the city’s economic growth behind Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon.com, Microsoft, and ubiquitous coffee chain Starbucks. On the other, there’s the freewheeling, occasionally caustic spirits who have made the Emerald City some of the world’s most fertile ground for rock and indie music, both of which feature prominently at the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project.
Dedicated to exploring the history of pop and alternative music in Seattle, the EMP Museum shares the Seattle Center campus with the city’s most iconic building: the Space Needle. A remnant from the 1962 Century 21 Exposition that put Seattle on the map as a world-class city, the pointed structure rises 520 feet above sea level and has been featured prominently in everything from films and TV shows to the logo of beloved local soccer team Sounders FC.
Century 21 also brought with it the Monorail, the nation’s first full-scale commercial system of its kind. The elevated rails connect the Seattle Center to the Westlake Center and serve as downtown’s main artery. Passengers who disembark at the Westlake Center mall will find themselves a mere three blocks from the famed Pike Place Market, which looks out onto the glassy waters of the Puget Sound. Along the cobbled street of the market's Pike Place Fish, fishmongers sell live manila clams, whole Dungeness crabs, and filets of wild salmon.
Also in Pike Place is the very first Starbucks Coffee store, which opened its doors in the 1970s and has been successful (to put it mildly) ever since. Coffee is an intrinsic part of Seattle’s culture, and locals’ affinity for the caffeinated beverage extends far beyond the major chains. A profusion of micro-roasters has emerged in recent years, with connoisseurs such as David Schomer and Geneva Sullivan of Espresso Vivace leading the search for the world’s highest quality Arabica beans.