I Wonder Why

There’s a tiny part of Washington state that is so remote you have to cross an international border twice to get there.

Isolated, surrounded by water and Canadians … why did Point Roberts become a part of Washington and not Canada?

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Paul Williams / Flickr

Do most of the clothes in your closet range from hiking fleece to dress fleece, or some variations of plaid and jeans?

That’s probably what has fueled Seattle’s reputation as an unfashionable city.

Overdressing – something that’s just not possible in many American cities – can become a sort of phobia.

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(This is the second installment of a 2-part series about Tacoma’s designation as the City of Destiny.)

Why didn’t Tacoma become the premiere city on Puget Sound?  How did the City of Destiny lose out to Seattle?

Back in 1873, it looked like Tacoma would be graced with fame and fortune when the city beat out Seattle to become the terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad.

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Tacoma has been known as the “City of Destiny” for more than 140 years.

And while the city’s slogan is unique because it has lasted for so long (when was the last time you heard Seattle referred to as “Jet City?”), it also comes from a 19 Century “crazy person” who was a relentless promoter of Tacoma.

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Jennifer Wing / KPLU

Here’s an odd fact: Seattle’s dog population is estimated to be around 140,000 and climbing. The number of kids? … 93,000 and dropping.

Seattle’s not such a bad place to raise kids, but based on the 2010 census, roughly 15 percent of our population is 18 or younger. And, when you compare Seattle to Boston, New York City or Chicago our share of little ones looks pretty paltry.

In fact, Seattle is neck and neck with San Francisco, which has the lowest population of children of all major U.S. cities.

So where did all of Seattle’s kids go?

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In the 1980’s, the Washington State Legislature considered making it the official state song. The measure failed, but “Louie Louie” is still listed on government websites as the “unofficial” state rock song.

Sure it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to, but is a song about a Jamaican sailor longing for his girl really the best tune to represent Washington State?

How did this classic party song become so much a part of our cultural DNA, anyway?

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Race can be a volatile subject.

Still, judging from the reaction to a recent "I Wonder Why ... ?" story, it’s something people are eager to talk about.

Charla Bear’s story explored why Seattle is one of the whitest big cities in the country, whiter than such places as Denver, Oklahoma City, even Minneapolis.

The response to the report was overwhelming.

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Seattleites don’t like to admit it, but this is a pretty white city.

In fact, the latest census figures show it’s the fifth whitest of the 50 biggest cities in the country. That means there’s a higher proportion of Caucasian people here than in Denver, Oklahoma City, or even Minneapolis.

So why are there so few people of color in Seattle?

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Ashley Gross / KPLU

I just moved here from Chicago, and there’s one thing that has been bugging me – the way people park.

In some ways, Seattleites seem to really follow the rules. People don’t jaywalk, for instance. So why do so many people park on the wrong side of the street?

In my neighborhood in West Seattle, near Alki Beach, cars are parked higgledy-piggledy. Nose to nose, tail to tail. The streets are really narrow, and traffic runs in both directions, so I can understand the temptation to just zip into an empty spot, no matter which side of the street it’s on.

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From Ted Bundy to Gary Ridgway, some of the most notorious murderers in our nation’s history committed their crimes in the Northwest.

While we may not have the most serial killers, we’ve certainly got that reputation. And that got us to wondering: Why are there so many serial killers in the Northwest?

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Museum of History & Industry and Charla Bear

In the Pacific Northwest, we know that yoga pants, polar fleece and hiking shoes are great for grocery shopping. But when we head into the great outdoors, we love to pile on the high-tech gear.

Sure, the weather here demands a certain level of protection from the elements. But what is it that compels people in the Pacific Northwest to want every piece of equipment out there?

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Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

“It just doesn’t like to stop. It’s very tenacious.”

If you have property in the Pacific Northwest, there’s one plant you’ve most likely encountered … and battled – The Himalayan Blackberry.

It’s enemy No.1 in the Northwest. So, where did this plant come from and why did it become such a pervasive pain in the garden?

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Andrew_N / Flickr

Have you ever been to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and had a difficult time seeing the animals through all of the trees and plants? Well, it’s supposed to be that way. It’s all by design.

The naturalistic animal exhibit was born in Seattle at Woodland Park Zoo nearly 30 years ago.

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Charla Bear / KPLU

With all the totem poles in Washington State, it might surprise you to know the cedar monument isn’t from this region.

Though some local tribes now carve them, they didn’t originally.

In fact, the first one here was pilfered from another state.

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Images courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry

Maybe you’ve heard the line, "Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights." That well-worn phrase came from a billboard in 1971 as the Boeing Company stalled and then fell into a tailspin.

And while the "Boeing Bust" happened a long time ago, that economic slump, almost as much as the most recent one, is still a part of our collective consciousness.

Why does it still resonate all these years later?

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