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What do you know about Seattle and Portland, the two urban anchors of that mountainous, forested region tucked away in the farthest corner of the United States, an area collectively known as the Pacific Northwest? Maybe you've visited here once or twice, maybe you passed through on your way to Canada or Alaska, or maybe you're simply intrigued by what you've heard and read. For a long time, both cities made all of those "Best Places to Live" lists, and media stories extolled the beautiful views, the clean air, and the forward-thinking urban planning. That caused about a million Californians to move hereonly to leave a year or two later because it rained too much in the winter. Then for some reason the winter rains detoured south, and for several years the Pacific Northwest enjoyed near-perfect weather while L.A. flooded. Seattle went on to make more news: downtown demonstrations, riots in the streets, and boom!, a major earthquake, the biggest in these parts in more than 50 years. The high-tech and Internet industries created another kind of boom here, and then almost as quickly began to shake out. The picture, it appeared, was not nearly as rosy as it had been only 10 years ago. So what, you might ask, is really going on in the Pacific Northwest? The short answer is that everything is just fine. The streets are safe, the earthquake damage has been swept away, and the weather continues to be just lovely, as far as we're concerned. Those of us who have chosen to make it our home are very, very fond of the place and eager to show it off at a moment's (or a relative's) notice. Hence this guidebook, which will attempt to steer you toward the places I know and love about Seattleand Portland. You're coming at a good time, whether it's your first visit or you're returning for another slice of the Northwest pie. If you haven't been to Seattle since the early-'90s, you won't recognize the placethe city has undergone major renovations and renewal in the last five years. The high-tech boom was very generously shared by all of those Microsoft millionaires, who invested in the community and helped fund, among other things, a new symphony hall, a sparkling new ballpark, and new museums, and helped transform whole neighborhoods like Belltown. Portland, too, has enjoyed a prosperity that has the city bustling and building. With the exception of traffic, which continues to be lousy, both places have managed to hang on to a quality of life that is cherished by its proud residents. This book is the first step toward helping you discover the best of the Pacific Northwest in general, and Seattle and Portland in particular.