I Wonder Why

I Wonder Why ... ?
1:38 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Why the Alaskan fishing fleet is based in Seattle

AP Photo

On the reality TV show “The Deadliest Catch,” you see the crew of the Northwestern enduring storms and other dangers while crab fishing in the Bering Sea in the middle of winter.

You might be surprised to learn that the Northwestern and the hundreds of other boats that make up the North Pacific Fishing Fleet are not based in Alaska. Rather, they travel thousands of miles south each year to tie up in Seattle.

So, why is the fleet based here? There certainly are more convenient ports closer to the fishing grounds. The reasons have to do with water, weather and people. Oh, and tradition plays a part.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Did Jesus Christ make Seattle under protest?

Illustration by Justin Steyer KPLU

You might say Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. Or, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure.

Either way, this provocative statement is a big help when you’re trying to get around downtown Seattle.

It's a mnemonic device, a sentence that helps you remember the names and order of the city’s streets. The first letter of each word corresponds to a pair of streets between Pioneer Square and Belltown. Jesus starts with a "J" which means Jefferson and James come first. The "C" in Christ signals that Cherry and Columbia are next, and so on.

You might've already known that, but do you have any idea where the memory trick came from? Or, why it remains so popular?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
1:16 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Why does Seattle still care about the World's Fair?

The Seattle World’s Fair – which opened 50 years ago this weekend – was pretty small on the global scale, compared to later World’s Fairs in Montreal or Vancouver, B.C., or Seville, Spain. It would seem tiny next to the immense Exposition in Shanghai in 2010.

But the memories of 1962 burn strong for those who attended. And historians and civic leaders say the legacy still matters today.

Even if you're brand-new to Seattle, you might have heard that once upon a time there was a World’s Fair here. Maybe, you even learned about it on an elevator ride – to the top of the 605-foot Space Needle.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Why did Costco start in the Northwest and get so big?

Everyone has a Costco story. You go in to buy diapers and come home with a new sofa.
The Associated Press

The Northwest is home to a variety of companies that have changed how we live our lives.

We spend more now on coffee thanks to Starbucks. Amazon is changing the way we read books. And another company with deep local roots has gotten many of us to buy more of everything: Costco.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Why do we tint our windows in the rainy NW?

If it seems like you’re seeing more tinted windows here, you are.
Rik_C Flickr

You pull up to a stop light, look over and the windows on the SUV next to you are so dark you can’t see in. Why are we hiding behind tinted automobile windows here in the Pacific Northwest?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Why did Bigfoot grow up in the Northwest?

Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

It’s one of the most enduring legends of the Northwest – hundreds of people report sightings of Bigfoot every year. Native American stories also call it Sasquatch or “the Hairy Man.” The idea of a giant, ape-like creature that hides in the woods and might be related to humans has been around for centuries.

Why has this “myth” endured in the Northwest? Is it because Bigfoot is really here? Or, is it because it’s the kind of wild alter ego Northwesterners love to imagine for themselves?

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IWW Encore Edition
6:19 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Why did Seattle turn manhole covers into works of art?

yelahneb flickr

"We, in our 20’s and 30’s, took over the city from the old men who were sitting in the Rainier Club playing dominoes all day."

There are thousands of manhole covers on the streets of Seattle. Some of them, 115 to be exact, are official works of art. Artists are commissioned by the city to create them. It’s one of those little quirks that set the city apart.

Why the city decided to decorate these "personnel hatch covers," as the city now refers to them, harks back to a time when the city was full of creative energy and lots of city activists were looking for ways to improve the quality of urban life.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Why don't people in the NW go to church?

For years, the Northwest has had the dubious distinction of being one of the most non-religious regions in the land. In fact, it's often referred to as the "unchurched belt" in contrast to the "bible belt" in the South.

On a recent visit to a North Seattle church, there was only a small group of worshipers, filling about a third of the pews. That's not unusual in Seattle or the Pacific Northwest.

So why, we wondered, don’t people in this neck of the woods go to church?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:00 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Why did Seattle display babies in incubators at the World's Fair?

Baby incubator exhibit on the Pay Streak at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.
Photo by Frank H. Nowell and courtesy of UW Special Collections.

The Northwest has long been known for its technological innovations – from airplanes to software. More than a hundred years ago, Seattle was showing off a brand-new invention involving babies.

At the city’s first World’s Fair in 1909, called the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, there was a Wild West exhibit, rollercoasters, concessions  and right next door, were premature babies … in incubators … on display.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Why are the odds of surviving a heart attack better in the NW?

Medic One launched in 1970 with a converted mobile-home as the rescue unit. That didn’t work out because it was unstable. The agency got it right, in the end.

In 1974, CBS’ 60 Minutes declared Seattle was the best place in the world to suffer a heart attack. Nearly forty years later, the reputation persists – and experts are still claiming Seattle is tops in saving victims of cardiac arrest.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Why don't we in the Northwest honk our horns?

If you live in Boston, Manhattan or Mumbai, the sounds of rush hour include the overwhelming sound of beeping and blaring car horns. But, that’s not the case in the Pacific Northwest.

Honking the horn just doesn’t seem to be part of our driving DNA.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
11:02 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

I Wonder Why Seattle washed away its hills?

Men "rubbernecking" during the Denny regrade project.
Museum of History & Industry

In Seattle, we’re never satisfied: Viaduct out of fashion (… and a little dangerous) – remove it and dig a tunnel; Kingdome no longer fits our vision of a great sports venue – poof!

Remove all the hills because they’re in the way of progress – leveled!

One of the earliest engineers to envision grand changes for Seattle was R.H. Thompson. He’s the guy who leveled the hills in what’s known as the Denny Regrade. To understand our drive to give Seattle a constant make over, we decided to take a closer look at this unsung engineer who dramatically changed the city more than 100 years ago.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
7:51 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Why so divided? Exploring the comments in 'Wonder' series

Discussions about Utilikilts and the 'Seattle freeze' were particularly revealing.

In the Northwest, we share some unique attributes. But, like people everywhere, we disagree passionately when it comes to those things that tie us together. That came clear to us after sorting through the comments prompted by KPLU’s "I Wonder Why…?" series.

For instance, in combing through two of our most popular stories, no one could agree on just how friendly we are in the Northwest or whether men in skirts … er Utilikilts is a good idea.

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Mysteries of the NW
5:40 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Mel's Hole investigated again; mystery remains unsolved

KOMO illustration captured from their news story video.

In a story worthy of our “I Wonder Why … ?” series, a Seattle TV station has resurrected the mystery of Mel’s Hole located somewhere (but no one knows where) near Ellensburg.

KOMO wrote on Tuesday:

From Bigfoot to the disappearance of D.B. Cooper, the Pacific Northwest is full of mysteries. Another mystery burred deep in the hills of eastern Washington keeps resurfacing. Ellensburg and its surrounding valleys and Manastash Ridge are beautiful in any season. Some believe what lies beneath is a deep, dark hole with supernatural powers.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Why Don't We Bury Our Power Lines in the Northwest?

Saturday's wind storm knocked over a tree into power lines in Kirland, Wash.
Denise Walker

Did you find yourself in the dark, shivering under blankets, eating cold rations during the recent wind storm? Did it have you wondering why we are so dependent on overhead power poles to keep the lights on?

Could there be a better way?

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