2017 Year in Review: News

The stories that gripped the Seattle area.
The standout photos from 2017.

Check out the rest of our 2017 Year in Review package.

Moments to Remember: Photo Finish

This year produced a number of incredible images. Participants of Womxn's March 2017 in Seattle; four years later and 1.7 miles, Bertha finally reaches the finish line; Tatooine-like glow as wildfires ravage parts of British Columbia, eastern Washington and Oregon; total solar eclipse in August. Scroll through some of our favorite photos in the above slideshow.

Architecture: Eyes on the Sky

With dozens of building cranes hovering over Seattle, our skyline has been growing rapidly, and adding a dramatic new layer of character to that cityscape is the angular Mark Tower at 801 Fifth Avenue. With steel bracing that zigzags up the exterior, the 48-floor skyscraper (to be occupied primarily by tech company F5), designed by ZGF Architects with developer Kevin Daniels of Kevin Daniels Real Estate, is destined to become one of our city’s most visually distinctive buildings and—if all goes according to plan—one of the few to achieve LEED gold certification.

A bonus: the 16 floors that comprise a Philippe Starck–designed luxury hotel, and its adjacent event space, The Sanctuary, a historic building that once housed the First United Methodist Church. With Seattle’s building boom showing no signs of slowing, The Mark sets an aspirational standard for new skyscrapers. -Virginia Smyth

Public Spaces: Linked Up

As the city waits for the transformation of its downtown waterfront—a project that hinges on the upcoming demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct—we got a tantalizing preview in June when the Pike Place Market expansion opened. Eventually, the new MarketFront will be a gateway to that waterfront, better connecting one big Seattle amenity (and tourist attraction) to another.

Until then, the expansion offers plenty to enjoy: a producers hall (hello, Indi Chocolate, Honest Biscuits, Old Stove Brewing Company and Little Fish!); covered space for more market stalls; amenities like more parking, public art installations and community services; and best of all, a plaza with the jaw-dropping views of Puget Sound and the Olympics that help us all remember why we live here. -Virginia Smyth

Showing Up: Signs of the Times

From declarative yard signs to protest posters, 2017 was the year we put our words to work on banners, bills and broadsides. Here are some of the year's most memorable.

Philanthropy: The Giving Spree

Here's a rundown of some of the high-dollar donations Seattle's wealthiest threw around:

  • Bill Gates gave a whopping $4.6 billion in Microsoft stock to charity (his largest gift since 2000). 
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $279 million to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
  • Paul Allen donated $40 million to the University of Washington, and Microsoft donated another $10 million in his name; the $50 million endowment established the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.
  • The Bezos family donated $35 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Paul Allen pledged $30 million to help house the homeless in Seattle. 
  • Google donated $10 million to the UW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering. 
  • Longtime philanthropists Charles and Lisa Simonyi gave $5 million to the UW, and to its School of Computer Science and Engineering.

-Alexandra Haupt

Workspace: They Can Do It

Kim Peltola and Amy Nelson burst onto the scene this year with The Riveter, giving Seattle something new in the coworking space arena with two locations in Capitol Hill and Fremont that combine work, wellness and a supportive environment in which women can learn from one another. Open to women and their allies, the brand’s quick popularity and expansion indicate a shift in how our city thinks about work and life balance. With The Riveter, Peltola and Nelson have shown that meditation rooms and yoga sessions are what women want in an age of increasing female entrepreneurship and a decline in the increasingly archaic nine-to-five office model. -Nia Martin

Wheel Popular: Seattle’s New Bike Share Programs Keep on Cruising

No sooner had the city’s Pronto public bike sharing program ended than a new one began. The latest bike share pilot program has multiple startup companies bringing their bikes to the city for try-outs, all with new, park-anywhere systems. Seattleites have been taking to the bikes eagerly—and taking “park anywhere” quite literally. So far, riders have stranded bikes in trees, on stairways, in yards and by railroad tracks. Another wrinkle is that the companies don’t provide helmets (though they’ve hosted a couple of helmet giveaways), which are required by law to ride a bike in Seattle. The pilot test period ends this month; stay tuned to see what rolls out next. -Niki Stojnic

Charleena Lyles
The fatal June shooting of Charleena Lyles by two Seattle police officers was found to be within policy by the police department’s Force Review Board. The 15-member board, presided over by Assistant Chief Lesley Cordner, ruled that the shooting was reasonable and proportional after reviewing the case. Lyles’ family expressed dismay at the decision, releasing a statement saying, “We cannot accept that Charleena Lyles’ killing was unavoidable. If her killing was within policy and training, we need changes in policy and training.” -Danny Sullivan


Bikini Baristas
The ordinances passed by the Everett City Council cracking down on bikini barista stands was blocked by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman this month following a lawsuit by affected baristas and stand owners. Pechman found the ordinances would violate First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, prompting her to issue an injunction to prevent violation of the baristas’ constitutional rights. The city, for its part, had argued that the law was intended to mitigate prostitution and sexual exploitation they claim accompany these businesses. -D.S.


Income Inequality
Seattle set a new record for income inequality, based on the Gini Index measurement. Newly available statistics from 2016 showed the top 20 percent of households now take home 53 percent of total earned income, while the bottom 20 percent sees just less than 3 percent. Seattle has now pulled even with San Francisco in this dispiriting metric. If there’s any upshot, it’s that it doesn’t necessarily mean the poor have gotten poorer (though rising rent and cost of living is also troublesome). Rather, the rich simply got richer to the tune of $40,000 per year on average. -D.S.


Net Neutrality Lawsuit
The lawsuits just keep coming. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed his 19th lawsuit against the Trump administration in December following the FCC’s move to undo “net neutrality” regulations, designed to keep the internet free and open. In a statement, Ferguson said, “We are 5-0 against the Trump Administration because they often fail to follow the law when taking executive action. There is a strong legal argument that with this action, the federal government violated the Administrative Procedure Act — again.” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell also announced plans to introduce a congressional resolution to override the repeal. -D.S.


More 2017 news stories that captivated Seattle:

The Ups and Downs of Living in Amazonia

Seattleites Poured Their Heart and Soul Into Altruistic Passion Projects

It's Like 2017 was Trying to Freak the Northwest Out All Year

The Quirky Stories and Characters That Took Our Minds Off the Mayhem

It Took Nearly a Century, But Seattle Found Its Second Female Mayor

2017 Best or Worst? You Decide

Seattle Crime 2017: From the Gross to the Grotesque 

Related Content

Bringing fresh ideas to Seattle magazine, Seattle Business magazine


What Every High School Parent and Student Should Know

A note from the editor

A note from the editor

The West Seattle Bridge may not be open until 2021; the Farmers Markets are starting to come back, and the Tulip festival would like you to stay home, please. All the news you missed in between reading about coronavirus.