Timeline collage: Shutterstock, courtesy Seattle Storm and Seattle Met composite.
It's a year we'll never forget and never totally remember. Yes, 2020 saddled Seattle with indelible losses and unprecedented burdens on our most essential workers. And yes, this year forever ingrained "quarantine" and sourdough recipes in our memories. But coronavirus pandemic updates also veiled nearly everything else that happened in this city after Covid-19's arrival last winter.
The Before Times (January and February)
Bad news sours champagne toasts. High winds nix the New Year's Eve fireworks show at the Space Needle. Earlier that night, the news itself takes a hit as the venerable First and Pike newsstand closes.
The Seattle Public Library eliminates daily fines on overdue books to make browsing its shelves more equitable.
Melissa Miranda's Musang opens in Beacon Hill. With acclaimed Filipino fare, an assiduous takeout operation, and many servings of compassion for the community, Miranda and company weather the restaurant's maiden months admirably and earn Seattle Met's restaurant of the year distinction.
On a snowy Monday, Seattle City Council passes legislation that makes it harder for "foreign-influenced corporations" to sway city elections. The target is obvious: Amazon contributed nearly $1.5 million to Seattle election races mere months earlier.
Boeing's dismal annual sales report isn't even its worst news of the month. That came less than a week earlier, when the aerospace giant handed over more than 100 pages of damning documents to Congress that revealed deception and recklessness in the development of the 737 Max, the model involved in crashes had killed 346 people.
Félix Hernández signs a minor-league deal with the Atlanta Braves, officially ending his reign as Mariners ace.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget announces that the National Archives and Records Administration facility in Seattle will close. The building along Sand Point Way holds vital tribal documents, messages from the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption, and other historical treasures.
Pong fans rejoice as Atari announces it will build a gaming-themed hotel in Seattle.
The Asian Art Museum reopens in Volunteer Park after three years of renovations.
A busy day for progressive legislation. Seattle City Council votes to bar some residential evictions in the city between December 1 and March 1. And governor Jay Inslee puts his John Hancock on the legislative session's first new law: an increase to the business-and-occupation tax that will help bring free or reduced tuition to college students across the state.
Seattle Public Schools superintendent Denise Juneau apologizes weeks after a KUOW report that multiple SPS teachers had abused students but returned to classrooms.
Seattle's nascent XFL squad, the Dragons, wins its home opener against the Tampa Bay Vipers at CenturyLink Field. More football is welcome in Seattle after the Seahawks' playoff exit, but it doesn't last: The Covid-19 shutdown soon ends the Dragons' first season.
A Bernie Sanders rally attracts more than 17,000 spectators to the Tacoma Dome a handful of days before Elizabeth Warren draws thousands to Seattle Center. In preparation for the 2020 presidential race, Washington moved up its primary and ditched a caucus system in part to coax more candidates to visit the state.
A judge rules that Tim Eyman violated campaign finance laws for years, raising more than $766,000 to support his anti-tax initiatives.
The Macy's in downtown Seattle closes, one of several stores to shutter in that retail corridor before coronavirus-related economic restrictions were imposed. The former Bon Marché building's star lives on.
As other brick-and-mortar stores close, Amazon continues to open more physical locations. The latest is the world's first Amazon Go Grocery, a checkout-less shopping experience that debuts in Capitol Hill just in time for social distancing.
More than a couple Seattle culinary standouts appear among the semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation's annual awards. In the national categories, Mike Easton's Il Nido is up for best new restaurant, Cafe Juanita's Holly Smith for outstanding chef, and Canlis for outstanding hospitality. The foundation would ultimately decide against declaring any winners in those categories (and many others) in 2020.
"Stay Home" Season (March, April, May)
The Sounders begin another MLS Cup title defense with a victory over Chicago Fire FC at the Link. But the season soon gets put on hold.
Tacoma police kill 33-year-old Manuel Ellis, claiming he attacked an officer. Witnesses later dispute details of that story, and Ellis's death becomes a focus of Black Lives Matter protests during the summer. Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson is still weighing whether to press criminal charges against the officers involved.
The 2020 legislative session wraps up with more money allocated for affordable housing but little progress toward combatting climate change.
In a close call, multiple media outlets declare Joe Biden the winner of Washington's Democratic primary over 2016 victor Bernie Sanders.
Lieutenant governor Cyrus Habib surprises Washington's political cognoscenti by announcing that he'll join the Society of Jesus instead of pursuing reelection in the fall. Habib leaves for training before his term ends.
Washington legalizes sports gambling at tribal casinos.
More overlooked legislation: Inslee signs a bill that exempts menstrual products from the state's sales tax.
Thunderpussy finally wins a federal trademark for its band name.
A rare gray orca, Tl’uk, swims through the Sound, the first major sighting of the season for whale watchers.
Another family sues Seattle Children's hospital after Aspergillus mold was found in their six-day-old child's heart following open-heart surgery. A state Department of Health investigation determined that the hospital's monitoring couldn't detect the mold, which has plagued Seattle Children's for decades and contributed to more than a handful of patient deaths.
A veteran Seattle Opera performer, Stephen Wall, continues to sing arias daily from his Ballard front lawn.
Port of Seattle commissioners postpone the $100 million development of another cruise terminal along the waterfront amid economic uncertainty. The proposed Terminal 46 has drawn the ire of climate activists.
NASA taps Kent-based Blue Origin to develop a human landing system for the country's next moon quest.
A New York Times article on the arrival of Asian giant hornets, or "murder hornets," in Washington goes viral amid the collective doom-scroll. The world's largest species of hornet has been known to kill humans, per the Times, but looms as a greater threat to the bee population.
The Seattle Times wins a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the fallout from the Boeing 737 Max plane crashes.
Seattle film director Lynn Shelton dies of acute myeloid leukemia at 54. The brains behind Your Sister’s Sister, Humpday, and Laggies would receive a posthumous Emmy nomination a couple months later for her work on Little Fires Everywhere.
Washington's Employment Security Department reveals that an international fraud ring stole hundreds of millions from the state through illegal unemployment claims. An audit would later find the state didn't have strong enough measures in place to prevent the theft.
ESPN chooses a trio of Seattle sports superstars—Storm guard Sue Bird, OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson—to host its remote ESPY awards on June 21.
After the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, protesters in Seattle march downtown. Their chants in support of Black Lives and against police brutality herald a summer of protests. During the initial gatherings, many express themselves peacefully, but some some throw fireworks and break windows. Donning riot gear, the Seattle Police Department responds aggressively: In one incident, an officer places his knee on a person's neck, later deemed an improper use of force by the city's Office of Police Accountability (a comprehensive rundown of summer protest happenings can be found here).
The Summer of Protests (June, July, August)
Following a city-imposed curfew, a standoff between cops and protesters outside the East Precinct in Capitol Hill devolves into chaos when an officer grabs someone's pink umbrella. The item quickly becomes a protest symbol. Police use tear gas, pepper spray, and flash bangs to disperse crowd members.
The city ends the curfew and withdraws its motion to remove SPD from a federal consent decree that monitors bias and use of force.
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and police chief Carmen Best order a 30-day ban on the use of tear gas against protesters.
A man drives into a crowd of protesters and shoots one before turning himself over to police.
After more than a week of protests documented by Omari Salisbury and other livestreamers, cops desert the East Precinct. Protesters form a police-free, six-block area called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (the CHAZ) that captures America's fascination and stirs debates about defunding police departments.
An estimated 60,000 people march in silence from Judkins Park to Jefferson Park to safely honor victims of police brutality.
A 19-year-old man, Lorenzo Anderson, dies after an early morning shooting (and miscommunication) in the zone now dubbed "CHOP"—the Capitol Hill Organized (or Occupied) Protest.
A group of Capitol Hill businesses and residents sues the city for failing to disband CHOP.
Another shooting in CHOP. This one kills 16-year-old Antonio Mays Jr. An investigation into his death continues.
Durkan orders SPD to clear CHOP. Dozens are arrested.
Some Black Lives Matter protesters gather on I-5, a frequent stop on routes during the summer. But this time a driver enters the closed highway by driving the wrong way up an exit ramp. He accelerates into the small crowd, striking multiple protesters. One of them, Summer Taylor, dies.
A petition to recall Durkan for endangering the community and imposing an impromptu curfew receives a judge's OK to proceed.
Seven of nine Seattle City Council members support defunding SPD by 50 percent, a number advanced by coalitions Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now.
Virginia Mason announces that it's exploring a merger with CHI Franciscan.
Durkan opts against vetoing Seattle City Council's new tax on businesses with annual payrolls of at least $7 million.
Wary of federal officers detaining protesters like in Portland, more Seattleites take to the streets. Some light construction equipment, including trailers, on fire at King County's juvenile detention center less than a day after King County executive Dow Constantine vowed to release everyone detained at the center by 2025.
The city closes Waterfront Park after a report that Pier 58 has shifted away from shore.
Seattle Police chief Carmen Best says in a letter to colleagues she'll retire in early September. The announcement comes on the same day the city council votes to cut 100 SPD jobs. Adrian Diaz takes over for Best.
The city fast-tracks building 600 units of housing for people who are chronically homeless, a $60 million investment through 2021 to combat Seattle's homelessness emergency.
A vandal gives the Chris Cornell statue outside the Museum of Pop Culture a white paint job.
After the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Mariners players vote unanimously against facing the Padres that night. "Instead of watching us, we hope people will focus on the things more important than sports that are happening,” Dee Gordon writes in a tweet.
A vigil is held near the Space Needle for the late woodcarver John T. Williams, who was killed 10 years earlier by Seattle police officer Ian Birk while crossing the street with a pocketknife and a piece of cedar.
The Fires and the Storm (September and October)
Tahlequah, the southern resident orca that hauled her dead calf around for more than two weeks in 2018, has another baby. J57 swims with her in the Salish Sea.
Wildfire smoke blows into the Puget Sound region after 330,000 acres burn statewide; at one point, Seattle has the worst air quality of any major city in the world. City residents are advised to stay indoors, nothing new for 2020.
Bill Gates Sr. dies of Alzheimer's disease at 94.
After more than a week of checking Air Quality Index (AQI) figures like they're tallies of a certain virus, and one day after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Seattleites can at least breathe fresh air again.
A reinforcement arrives on the waterfront: A rebuilt Pier 62 opens north of the sunken Pier 58.
In a triumph for press freedom, The Seattle Times and several local TV stations don't have to provide unpublished photos and videos from May 30 protests to SPD, which drops its subpoena.
Durkan signs a bill that ensures Uber and Lyft drivers will make the city's minimum wage of $16.39 per hour. The petition to recall the mayor is officially rejected
Very 2020: Lightning strikes a Washington State Ferry near Edmonds. No one is injured.
Fritz Hedges Waterway Park makes a quiet debut near the University of Washington.
The Washington Supreme Court deems Initiative 976 unconstitutional. The car-tab cap measure backed by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman was misleading, basically. In other transportation news, King County starts a free bus and train pass program for low-income riders.
In advance of November's election, King County voters turn in their ballots early at a record clip.
The state's Department of Agriculture attracts international attention after destroying an Asian giant hornet nest in Blaine, Washington, the first ever found in the U.S.
A PR gaffe dims the opening of Shawn Kemp's Cannabis. The former Sonics star's small stake in the shop brings the cannabis industry's equity problems to the fore.
Visions of 2021, and Beyond (November and December)
Though the presidential election result will take days to sort out, Washington night owls learn on Election Day that governor Jay Inslee has won a rare third term.
On a dreary Saturday morning, Seattle wakes up to the news that the Associated Press and CNN have called the presidential race for Joe Biden. People celebrate in the streets or just clang cowbells from their porches. Progressives bummed about Biden still have plenty to cheer, including a new mandatory sex-ed policy.
Public Health—Seattle and King County announces an investigation into the potential spread of measles at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. An infected King County resident had recently returned from a flight.
FAA lifts its grounding of Boeing's 737 Max jets, clearing the planes to fly again after 20 months of limbo. In much more uplifting news, Don Mee Choi wins the National Book Award for Poetry for DMZ Colony.
Durkan chooses to repair, not replace, the West Seattle Bridge after considering a rapid swap-out.
Seattle City Council adopts a 2021 budget that includes a nearly 20 percent cut of SPD's budget, short of the 50 percent number targeted by protesters and most council members. But the budget sets money aside to address housing and other equity problems, as well as a participatory budgeting process. Durkan says she'll sign it.
The iconic pink Elephant Car Wash sign along Denny Way comes down. With the Denny Triangle branch of the car wash chain closing, the deconstructed landmark goes to the Museum of History and Industry.
King County considers providing a $100 million loan to the Washington State Convention Center as investment dries up.
Sports Illustrated names Storm forward Breanna Stewart a Sportsperson of the Year for her work on and off the court.
Durkan announces that she won't run for reelection in 2021.
Another imminent departure: Seattle Public Schools superintendent Denise Juneau says she'll resign in June.
The Sounders lose 3-0 in the MLS Cup.
Queen Anne resident Richard Knowles pays homage to 2020 Netflix favorite Schitt's Creek by constructing a miniature version of the show's Rosebud Motel.
A week before Christmas, SPD and other city employees perform yet another sweep of Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, clearing out protesters and homeless encampments.
Cal Anderson Park reopens after a six-month closure. The city floats the possibility of ping pong tables in its 2021 incarnation, which would be odd. But after 2020, it's best to prepare for everything.