“We’re all unfriendly”
It’s called the Seattle Freeze: the generally distant attitude adopted by city residents and a propensity to murmur, “Let’s have brunch soon” and not mean it at all. The unfriendly stereotype probably comes from both the city’s Nordic heritage (those frozen Swedes!) and tech culture (nerds can’t hang, right?), and the term was coined by The Seattle Times in 2005.
Sure, Travel and Leisure ranked us only the 17th rudest U.S. city in 2012, behind even Philadelphia. Such warmth! And yet a 2014 Civic Health Index from the Seattle City Club grades Seattle 48th of 51 U.S. cities when it comes to talking to neighbors frequently and 37th in giving and receiving neighborly favors—so Freeze Truthers may have a point. Eh, the cold never bothered us anyway.
“Umbrellas are verboten”
In a city with a lower annual rainfall than Houston or New York City, why do you need one? Seattle’s rain is mostly drizzle that doesn’t warrant protection, but Seattle supports one of three umbrella-only stores in the whole country, Bella Umbrella. The idea of a bumbershoot boycott may be more pervasive than the reality, says owner Jodell Egbert: “If I could do any ad campaign with Don Draper, it would be: Can you make Seattleites stop saying that Seattleites don’t use umbrellas?”
But Washington just isn’t that into rain gear. Only six companies make waterproof clothing here—the same number as Utah or Florida. And since only 7 percent of central Seattle commuters walk to work, there are only a few of us with wet hair.
“We’re all Lefties”
Between the legal pot, a socialist on the city council, and sky-high minimum wage, Seattle is a blue-state fantasyland, right? By some measures, sure. We’ve been called the third-most liberal city in the fifth least-churchy state. President Obama scored 68.72 percent of the vote in King County in 2012. But compare that tally to Portland (75.4 percent) and Manhattan (84.2 percent). This is a city that still hasn’t figured out public transportation but is building an expensive highway under downtown and the whole state has high sales tax but no income tax—generally not progressive trends. Washington preemptively banned affirmative action in 1998, and our last and only female mayor was during the Coolidge administration. Calling Seattle “blue” might be a too liberal definition of liberal.