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The founding of Seattle is credited with the Denny Party’s arrival at Alki Point (in what is currently West Seattle) on November 13, 1851. The following spring, they relocated their settlement to Elliott Bay (now the site of Pioneer Square) which provided a better harbor. In the years following, a prosperous lumber industry was the main economic driver for the town (it was during this time that Yesler Way was nicknamed "Skid Road" after the timber skidding down the street to Henry Yesler’s sawmill). The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed most of the central business district. A new zoning code resulted in a downtown of brick and stone buildings, many of which are still standing in the Pioneer Square Historic District. In the single year after the fire, the city grew from 25,000 to 40,000 due to the large number of construction jobs.
In August 1896, gold was discovered along the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory of Canada. As one of the primary cities that served as a jumping off place for prospectors, local businesses flourished (including the Wallin & Nordstrom shoe store established in 1901). The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909 celebrated the gold rush (with over 700,000 visitors over the course of the summer) and established the layout for the current University of Washington campus.
Other historical events of note include the establishment of the Boeing Airplane Company in 1916 (obtaining orders from the US Navy for 50 airplanes to be used in World War I), the Seattle General Strike of 1919 (the first general strike in the country that ultimately contributed to the Red Scare of 1919 and 1920), the expansion of the aviation and shipbuilding industries with the United States entry into World War II and post-World War II boom in commercial aviation that saw Seattle turn into a company town (one in five households had some connection to the Boeing Company).
The Century 21 Exposition (otherwise known as the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair) is the pivotal event in recent history that changed the downtown. The resulting civic center and park (now known as the Seattle Center) contains several performance and sports venues, museums, a food court and also serves as the home for the iconic Space Needle and Seattle Monorail. More recent history includes the "Silicon Forest" economic boom (and bust) of Microsoft and other high-tech industries, the 1990 hosting of the Goodwill Games, the street protests of the 1999 WTO Meeting and the Nisqually Earthquake of February 28, 2001.