Seattle: America's Next Big Gateway

October 23, 2013 37 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

At last week's Consolidation Task Force meeting, task force member Kay Ehas asked Paul Crawford of the Office of Economic Development (OED) if our local government was aware of what it takes to retain young professionals and if we are doing anything about it. That question went unanswered. With this in mind, Metro Jacksonville shares a photo essay of Seattle by a young professional from Jacksonville, who now lives on the West Coast. Seattle is nationally recognized as a thriving city for millennials. Compare this environment with what you know of Jacksonville and decide for yourself if we know what we're doing to retain young professionals.

Tale of the Tape:


Seattle City Population 2012: 634,535 (City); 3,552,157 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1869)

Jacksonville City Population 2012: 836,507 (City); 1,377,850 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Seattle (467,591)

City Land Area

Seattle: 83.9 square miles
Jacksonville: 747.0 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2012)

Seattle: +3.27%
Jacksonville: +2.40%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Seattle: 3,059,393 (ranked 14 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Seattle: 3,028.2 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2010 to 2012

Seattle: +26,000
Jacksonville: +14,723

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Seattle: Washington State Convention & Trade Center (1985) - 205,700 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Seattle: Grand Hyatt Seattle - 425 rooms
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building/Structure:

Seattle: Columbia Center - 937 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2013 (City limits only):

Seattle: (49), Starbucks (208), Nordstrom (227), Expeditors International of Washington (428)
Jacksonville: CSX (231), Fidelity National Financial (353), Fidelity National Information Services (434)

Urban infill obstacles:

Seattle: There are none.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife District:

Seattle: N/A
Jacksonville: The Elbow, The Jacksonville Landing

Common Downtown Albatross:


Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Seattle: 93 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 78 out of 100, according to

About Seattle by Simms3


Despite Seattle being smaller (~3 million MSA) and tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, it has many characteristics that put it in the same league of “gateway markets” such as San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, and New York. Such a stunning place with an almost unbeatable natural environment, it is clean, safe, home to a huge port, thriving international communities, a 21st century industrial sector/economy, excellent public transit, an educated population, universities, parks and amenities.

While this was my first trip to Seattle, my expectations were so high that I was reminded that it was indeed a smaller city that still had some catching up to do to rival its neighbor to the south (San Francisco) and other East Coast markets. While there is plenty of older building stock, culture, infill and urbanity, there is still significant amounts of dead space, empty lots, and a “quieter” atmosphere indicative of a smaller American metropolitan area.

Nonetheless, I can really only count on six to seven fingers, cities in America that are more walkable, urban, and vibrant. In my opinion, there's more going on in central Seattle than all of modern America’s current growth cities (aka Sunbelt).

The famous Pioneer Square. This area took me by surprise…I had heard so much about all of the development in the area that I didn’t realize that it was still a transitional area that has a ton of homeless/grit. This is where a lot of the city’s best new restaurants seemed to be, as well as art galleries and lofts, and of course they are redeveloping King St Station. I'd call it the "Soma" of Seattle where Tech has sort of provided an impetus for redevelopment/gentrification, with its proclivity to locate office space in older high-ceiling buildings. Everyone else has seemed to follow.

A Tour of Seattle by Simms3



The port and the stadiums provide the backdrop for the area.


By the time you’ve reached the highway, you’ve already walked up a *massive* hill. Look to the office buildings to the left and notice that you’re halfway up their elevation. Columbia Center and surrounding towers are actually way up on a hill.


St. James Cathedral (Catholic, c. 1907)…by now you all know I love churches.





I tend to love cities with CityTargets.

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