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Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
(Flag of Seattle) (Seal of Seattle)
City nickname Emerald City
City bird Great Blue Heron
City flower Dahlia
City mottos The City of Flowers
The City of Goodwill
City song Seattle, the Peerless City
Mayor

Greg Nickels

County

King County

Area

  – Total
  – Land
  – Water
  – % water


369.2 km²
217.2 km²
152.0 km²
41.16 %

Population (2003) 569,101
Population density (2000) 2,593.5/km²
Time zonePacific (UTC−8)
Latitude47°37'N
Longitude122°19'W

Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located in the U.S. state of Washington between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, about 108 miles (180 km) south of the American-Canadian border in King County, of which it is the county seat.

Seattle, named after Chief Seattle, has a total estimated city population of 569,101 and a metropolitan population of 3.7 million (2003). It is sometimes referred to as the "Rainy City," the "Gateway to Alaska," and "Jet City" (due to the heavy influence of Boeing). Its official nickname is "the Emerald City." Seattle is known as the home of grunge music, has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption, and was the site of the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization shut down by anti-globalization demonstrators. Seattle residents are known as Seattleites.

Table of contents

History

Seattle skyline

Main article: History of Seattle

Founding

Most of the Denny Party, the most prominent of the area's early white settlers, arrived at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. They relocated their settlement to Elliott Bay in April 1852. The first plats for the Town of Seattle were filed on May 23, 1853. The city was incorporated in 1869, after having existed as an incorporated town from 1865 to 1867.

Seattle was named after Noah Sealth, chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, better known as Chief Seattle. David Swinson ("Doc") Maynard, one of the city founders, was the primary advocate for naming the city after Chief Seattle. Previously, the city had been known as Duwamps (or Duwumps)—a variation of that name is preserved in the name of Seattle's Duwamish River.

Major events

On a clear day, visitors to Kerry Park can see the Space Needle, the Downtown Seattle skyline, and Mount Rainier (to the right).

Major events in Seattle's history include the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which destroyed the central business district (but took no lives); the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which is largely responsible for the current layout of the University of Washington campus; the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the first general strike in the country; the 1962 Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair; the 1990 Goodwill Games; and the WTO Meeting of 1999, shut down by street protests.

In February 2001, a state of emergency was declared after the Nisqually Earthquake, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake, rocked the region. Damage was moderate, but served as a reminder that southwestern British Columbia and western Washington are under a constant threat of sustaining a great earthquake.

Economic history

Seattle has a history of boom and bust, or at least boom and quiescence. Seattle has almost been sent into permanent decline by the aftermaths of its worst periods as a company town, but has typically used those periods to successfully rebuild infrastructure.

The Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is a legacy of the 1990s software and Internet boom.

The first such boom was the lumber-industry boom covering the early years of the city (it was during this period that Yesler Way became known as the first "Skid Row", named after the timber skidding down the street to be milled), followed by the construction of an Olmsted-designed park system. Arguably the Klondike Gold Rush constituted a separate, shorter boom during the last years of the 19th century.

Next came the shipbuilding boom in the early part of the 20th century, followed by the unused city development plan of Virgil Bogue. After World War II the local economy was marked by the expansion of Boeing, fueled by the growth of the commercial aviation industry. When this particular cycle went into a major downturn in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many left the area to look for work elsewhere, and two local real estate agents put up a billboard reading, "Will the last person leaving Seattle – Turn out the lights".

Seattle remained the corporate headquarters of Boeing until 2001, when the company announced a desire to separate its headquarters from its major production facilities. Following a bidding war in which several cities offered huge tax breaks, Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago, Illinois. The Seattle area is still home to Boeing's commercial airplanes division, several Boeing plants, and the Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU).

Most recently, the boom centered around Microsoft and other software, Internet, and telecommunications companies, such as Amazon.com, RealNetworks, and AT&T Wireless. Even locally headquartered Starbucks held investments in numerous Internet and software interests. Although some of these companies remain relatively strong, the frenzied boom years had ended by early 2001.

People and culture

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Seattle

As of the U.S. Census of 2000, Seattle had a population of 563,374 and in all the Greater Puget Sound metropolitan area is home to roughly 3.7 million people. The population today is approximately 73.40 % Caucasian, one of the highest percentages of Caucasians for a major North American city. The city also has one of the nation's highest percentages of multiracial ancestry: 4.70% claim ancestry from two or more races. [1] According to the 2000 U.S. census, 13.71% of Seattleites are Asian Americans, 8.44% are African Americans, 1.10% are Native Americans, 0.50% are Pacific Islanders, and 6.84% are from other non-Caucasian backgrounds.

Seattle has seen a major uptick in legal and illegal immigration in recent decades. The foreign-born population increased 40 percent between the 1990 and 2000 census. [2] Although the 2000 census shows only 5.28% of the population as Hispanic or Latino of any race, Hispanics are believed to be the most rapidly growing population group in Washington State, with an estimated increase of 10% just in the years 2000–2002. [3]

It is estimated that 1.25% of the population is homeless, and that up to 14% of Seattle's homeless are children and young adults.

In 2005, Men's Fitness magazine named Seattle the fittest city in the U.S.

Landmarks

Howard Dean and Vanna White have both caught the "flying fish" at the Pike Place Market, one of Seattle's most popular tourist destinations.

The Space Needle is Seattle's most recognizable landmark, featured in the logo of the television show Frasier and the backgrounds of the television series Grey's Anatomy, and dating from the 1962 Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair. The surrounding fairgrounds have been converted into the Seattle Center, which remains the site for many important civic and cultural events.

Other famous landmarks include the Smith Tower, Pike Place Market, the Fremont Troll, the Experience Music Project, the new Seattle Central Library, and the Bank of America Tower, which is the fourth tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River and the twelfth tallest in the nation. (On June 16, 2004, the 9/11 Commission reported that the original plan for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks included the Bank of America Tower as one of ten targeted buildings.) [4]

Annual cultural events and fairs

Among Seattle's best-known annual cultural events and fairs are the 24-day Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous Seafair events throughout the summer months (ranging from a Bon Odori celebration to hydroplane races), the Bite of Seattle, and Bumbershoot over the Labor Day weekend. All are typically attended by over 100,000 people annually, as are Hempfest and two separate Independence Day celebrations.

Several dozen Seattle neighborhoods have one or more annual street fairs, and many have an annual parade or foot race. The largest of the street fairs feature hundreds of craft and food booths and multiple stages with live entertainment, and draw more than 100,000 people over the course of a weekend; the smallest are strictly neighborhood affairs with a few dozen craft and food booths, barely distinguishable from more prominent neighborhoods' weekly farmers' markets.

Other significant events include numerous Native American powwows, a Greek Festival hosted by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Montlake, and numerous ethnic festivals associated with Festal at Seattle Center.

As in most large cities, there are numerous other annual events of more limited interest, ranging from book fairs and specialized film festivals to a two-day, 8,000-rider Seattle-to-Portland bicycle ride.

Performing arts

Seattle is a significant center of the performing arts. The century-old Seattle Symphony Orchestra is among the world's most-recorded orchestras. [5] The Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet are comparably distinguished, with the Opera being particularly known for its performances of the works of Richard Wagner and the PNB School (founded in 1974) ranking as one of the top three ballet training institutions in the United States. [6], [7]

In addition, Seattle has about twenty live theater venues, a slim majority of them being associated with fringe theater. It has a strong local scene for poetry slams and other performance poetry, and several venues that routinely present public lectures or readings. The largest of these is Seattle's 900-seat, Roman Revival Town Hall on First Hill.

In popular music, Seattle is often thought of mainly as the home of grunge rock and musicians like Kurt Cobain (and the record label Seattle also houses the record label Sub Pop, who first signed Nirvana), but it is also home to such varied musicians as avant-garde jazz musicians Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot, smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G, and such poppier rock bands as Goodness and the Presidents of the United States of America. Seattle was as well the hometown of Jimi Hendrix. In the past ten years, the Seattle area has hosted a diverse and influential alternative music scene, centered near Capitol Hill. Sub Pop itself is home to such non-grunge bands as The Postal Service and The Shins. (Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, often attributed to Seattle, were actually from the neighboring suburb of Bellevue).

Museums and art collections

Prominent Seattle buildings circa 1893

The Henry Art Gallery opened in 1927, making it the first museum in Washington. The main Seattle Art Museum opened in 1933. Art collections are also housed at the Frye Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Regional history collections are at the Museum of History and Industry and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Industry-specific collections are housed at the Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, and Museum of Flight. Regional ethnic collections include Nordic Heritage Museum and the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

See also: Museums and galleries of Seattle

Other cultural institutions

The Woodland Park Zoo, opened as a private zoo in 1889, is one of the oldest on the West Coast, and has been a leader in innovations in naturalistic zoo exhibits. The Seattle Aquarium has been open on the downtown waterfront since 1977. The Seattle Underground Tour, visiting many of the places that existed mostly before the great fire, is also popular.

Media

Main article: Media in Seattle

Seattle's leading newspapers are the daily Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer; they share their advertising and business departments under a Joint Operating Agreement, which (as of 2004) the Times is seeking to terminate. The most prominent weeklies are the Seattle Weekly and the Stranger. Both of these consider themselves "alternative" papers; the Stranger has a reputation for a younger and hipper readership, the Weekly has a reputation as more serious and editorially responsible, but both make frequent forays into each other's editorial and demographic turf. There are also several ethnic newspapers and numerous neighborhood newspapers.

Seattle is also well served by television and radio. Its major network television affiliates are KOMO 4 (ABC), KING-TV 5 (NBC), KIRO 7 (CBS), KCTS 9 (PBS), KSTW 11 (UPN), KCPQ 13 (FOX), KTWB 22/10 (WB), and KWPX 33/3 (PAX). Leading radio stations include KIRO-AM 710, KOMO-AM 1000, NPR affiliates KUOW-FM 94.9 and KPLU-FM 88.5. Other notable stations include KEXP-FM 90.3 (affiliated with EMP) and KNHC-FM 89.5, owned by the public school system and operated by students of Nathan Hale High School. Many Seattle radio stations are also available through web radio, with KUOW, KNHC, and KEXP being notable web radio innovators.

Sports

The first major professional modern day sports franchise started in Seattle was the Seattle Supersonics (later "Seattle Sonics") National Basketball Association team (1967). They were joined by the Seattle Pilots baseball team in 1969. Both team names reflected the local importance of the aerospace industry. The Pilots lasted only one year, playing at Sick's Stadium, previously home to several minor league teams, before relocating to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their sole season was immortalized in Jim Bouton's book Ball Four.

Legal wrangling over the move of the Pilots pressured Major League Baseball to award Seattle a new franchise, the Mariners, starting in 1977. The Mariners would play in the newly built Kingdome, an indoor sports facility they shared with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, who started play the previous year. For a time, all three of the city's major sports teams used the Kingdome, despite criticism of it as a sterile, unattractive venue. It was little lamented when demolished in 2000, and replaced with a new stadium (later named Qwest Field) built for the Seahawks on the same site. By this time the other sports had long since relocated: the Sonics now use KeyArena exclusively; the Mariners' new home is the well-regarded, retractable-roofed Safeco Field.

The city's first professional sports championship was brought to the city by way of the PCHA Seattle Metropolitans in 1917. The professional hockey team, which represented Seattle from 1915–1924, was in fact the first U.S. team to win the coveted Stanley Cup, beating the Montreal Canadiens. They returned to the Stanley Cup finals twice more. The first, again versus Montreal, was in 1919. That series was cancelled due to an outbreak of influenza with the two teams tied at 2–2–1. The Metropolitans last went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1920, when they lost to the Ottawa Senators.

Other professional sports teams based in the city include:

In addition, the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University field teams in a variety of sports, including football and basketball. Their teams are known as the Huskies, Redhawks, and Falcons, respectively. The Husky football team has a wide following that ranks with those of the major professional teams in the city.

Education

Main article: Education in Seattle

Seattle has a more than typically educated population. Of Seattle's population over twenty-five, 36% (vs. a national average of 24%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher; 93% (vs. 80% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to the obvious institutions of education, there are significant adult literacy programs and considerable homeschooling.

Like most urban American public school systems, Seattle Public Schools have been subject to numerous controversies. Seattle's schools desegregated without a court order, but continue to struggle to achieve racial balance in a demographically divided city (the south part of town being much more ethnically diverse than the north). The schools have maintained high enough educational standards to keep white flight (and middle-class flight in general) to a minimum, but some of the area's suburban public school systems — not all of them in wealthy suburbs — have consistently higher test scores.

The public school system is supplemented by a moderate number of private schools: four of the high schools are Catholic, one is Lutheran, and six are secular.

Postsecondary education in Seattle is dominated by the University of Washington, with over 40,000 students, making it the largest university in the Pacific Northwest. Most prominent of the city's other universities are Seattle University, a Jesuit school, and Seattle Pacific University, founded by the Free Methodists. There are also a handful of smaller schools, mainly in the fine arts and business and psychology. Seattle is also served by North Seattle, Seattle Central, and South Seattle Community Colleges.

Government and politics

Main article: Government and politics of Seattle, Washington

The statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Fremont neighborhood

Seattle is a charter city, with a Mayor-Council form of government, unlike many of its neighbors that use the Council-Manager form. Seattle's mayor and nine city council members are elected annually, at large, rather than by geographic subdivisions. The only other elected office is the city attorney. All offices are non-partisan.

The city government provides more utilities than many cities; either running the whole operation, such as the water, sewer, and electricity services, or handling the billing and administration, but contracting out the rest of the operations, such as trash and recycling collection. In most neighboring cities, for example, electricity is provided by either a private company such as Puget Sound Energy, or a county public utility district. See the Utilities section for more details.

As with most U.S. cities, the county judicial system (courts and jails) handles most crime—the Seattle Municipal Court deals mostly with parking tickets and the like. Seattle does not even have its own jail, contracting out the few misdemeanor inmates it convicts to either the King County Jail (which is located downtown), the Yakima County Jail, or (for short-term holdings) the Renton City Jail. In 2004, there were only 24 murders in Seattle, the fewest since 1965. Violent crime has declined by nearly 42 percent since 1994, to a rate of approximately seven per 1,000 people. Auto theft has increased about 44 percent in the same period; the SPD has responded by almost doubling the number of detectives in the auto theft detail, and is starting a 'bait car' program. A Money magazine table, using 2001 statistics, ranked Seattle 18th in highest crime rate in the US, with 80.5 crimes per 1,000 citizens.

Seattle's politics lean famously to the left compared to the U.S. as a whole, although there are some conservative neighborhoods. In partisan elections, such as for the State Legislature and US Congress, most elections are won by Democrats, with Greens getting more votes than in many cities.

Official nickname, flower, slogan, and song

In 1981, Seattle held a contest to come up with a new official nickname to replace "the Queen City," which it had been since 1869 and was also the nickname of Cincinnati, Toronto, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The winner, selected in 1982, was "the Emerald City." Submitted by Californian Sarah Sterling-Franklin, it referred to the lush surroundings of Seattle that were the result of frequent rain. Seattle has also been known in the past as the "Jet City" though this nickname, related to Boeing, was entirely unofficial.

Seattle's official flower has been the dahlia since 1913. Its official song has been "Seattle the Peerless City" since 1909. In 1942, its official slogan was "The City of Flowers"; 48 years later, in 1990, it was "The City of Goodwill," for the Goodwill Games held that year in Seattle.

Seattle mayors of note

Among Seattle's notable past politicians is Bertha Knight Landes, mayor from 1926 to 1928. She was the first woman to be mayor of a major American city, and the only female mayor of Seattle so far.

Another, Bailey Gatzert, was mayor from 1875 to 1876. He was the first Jewish mayor of Seattle, narrowly missed being the first Jewish mayor of a major American city (Moses Bloom became mayor of Iowa City, Iowa in 1873), and has been the only Jewish mayor of Seattle so far.

See List of mayors of Seattle for a list of Seattle's mayors going back to 1869.

See also: Current leaders of Seattle, Washington

Infrastructure

Transportation

Main article: Transportation in Seattle

As with almost every other city in western North America, transportation in Seattle is dominated by automobiles, although Seattle is just old enough that the city's layout reflects the age when railways and streetcars dominated. These older modes of transportation made for a relatively well-defined downtown and strong neighborhoods at the end of several former streetcar lines, most of them now bus lines. There is no subway, though a bus tunnel running roughly north-south through downtown may soon be used for light rail. There are a small number of commuter trains from Tacoma and Everett, and an extensive system of bus routes.

A monorail line constructed for the 1962 Exposition still exists today between Seattle Center and downtown, although plans are underway to replace it with a longer monorail to convert it into a real commuter service. Transportation building programs have been very controversial in recent years — the new monorail was the subject of multiple ballot measures, even after it had been approved, and the Sound Transit light rail project has also been plagued with difficulties.

Street layout

Main article: Street layout of Seattle

Seattle's streets are laid out in a cardinal-direction grid pattern, except in the central business district: early city leader Arthur Denny insisted on orienting out his plat relative to the shoreline rather than to true North, so streets meet at unusual angles where Denny's plat meets "Doc" Maynard's to the south and Carson Boren's to the north. This inconsistency creates frequent confusion for those unfamiliar to Seattle when they attempt to navigate the streets at the edges of the business district. Largely the result of Seattle's topography, only one street, one highway, and one freeway run uninterrupted entirely through the city.

See Seattle neighborhoods for articles on individual neighborhoods, including information on major thoroughfares.

Medical centers and hospitals

Main article: Medical facilities of Seattle, Washington

Group Health Cooperative was one of the pioneers of managed care in the United States, the University of Washington is consistently ranked among the country's dozen leading institutions in medical research, and Seattle was a pioneer in the development of modern paramedic services with the establishment of Medic One in 1970. In 1974, a 60 Minutes story on the success of the then four-year-old Medic One paramedic system called Seattle "the best place in the world to have a heart attack."

Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center is the pediatric referral center for Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Harborview Medical Center, the public county hospital, is the only Level I trauma hospital serving those same four states. Harborview and the University of Washington Medical Center are both served by one physician group.

Utilities

Seattle Steam Company

Main article: Utilities of Seattle

Unlike most neighboring cities, water and electricity are provided by public city agencies. Privately owned utility companies serving Seattle are Puget Sound Energy (natural gas), Seattle Steam Company (steam), Qwest (landline telephone service), and Comcast (and to a lesser extent Millennium Digital Media) (cable television).

Economy

Companies

Five companies on the 2004 Fortune 500 list of the United States' largest companies, based on total revenue, are currently headquartered in Seattle: financial services company Washington Mutual (#103), insurance company Safeco Corporation (#267), clothing merchant Nordstrom (#286), Internet retailer Amazon.com (#342) and coffee chain Starbucks (#425).

Many Seattle residents work for companies based outside of Seattle proper. Airplane manufacturer Boeing (#21) was the largest company based in Seattle before its 2001 move to Chicago. Because several production facilities remain in the region, Boeing is still a major Seattle employer.

Other Fortune 500 companies popularly associated with Seattle are based in nearby Puget Sound cities. Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp. (#29), the largest company in Washington state, is based in Issaquah. Microsoft (#46) is based in Redmond. So was the cellular telephone pioneer McCaw Cellular, which in 1994 became AT&T Wireless (#120), before being absorbed in 2004 into Cingular. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company (#95), is based in Federal Way. And Bellevue is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR (#250).

Mayor Greg Nickels has announced a desire to spark a new economic boom driven by the biotechnology industry. Major redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood is underway in an effort to attract new and established biotech companies to the region, joining current biotech companies such as Corixa, Immunex (now part of Amgen), and ZymoGenetics. The effort has public support and some financial backing from Paul Allen.

See List of companies based in Seattle for a more detailed compilation.

Geography and climate

Geography

Seattle is located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. West beyond the Sound, Seattle faces the Olympic Mountains; across Lake Washington beyond the Eastside suburbs are the Issaquah Alps and the Cascade Range.

The city itself is hilly, though not uniformly so. Some of the hilliest areas are quite near the center, and Downtown rises rather dramatically away from the water. The geography of Downtown and its immediate environs has been significantly altered by regrading projects, a seawall, and the construction of an artificial island, Harbor Island, at the mouth of the city's industrial Duwamish Waterway.

The rivers, forests, lakes, and fields were once rich enough to support one of the world's few sedentary hunter-gatherer societies. Today, a ship canal passes through the city, incorporating Lake Union near the heart of the city and several other natural bodies of water, and connecting Puget Sound to Lake Washington. Opportunities for sailing, skiing, bicycling, camping, and hiking are close by and accessible almost all of the year.

An active geological fault, the Seattle Fault, runs under the city. It has not been the source of an earthquake during Seattle's existence; however, the city has been hit by four major earthquakes since its founding: December 14, 1872 (magnitude 7.3); April 13, 1949 (7.1); April 29, 1965 (6.5); and February 28, 2001 (6.8). See also Nisqually Earthquake.

Seattle is located at 47°37'35" North, 122°19'59" West (47.626353, −122.333144)¹.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 369.2 km² (142.5 mi²)1. 217.2 km² (83.9 mi²) of it is land and 152.0 km² (58.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 41.16% water.

See also: Seattle neighborhoods, List of Seattle parks, Bodies of water of Seattle

Climate

Seattle's climate is mild, with the temperature moderated by the sea and protected from winds and storms by the mountains. The "rainy city" receives an unremarkable 35–38 inches (890–970 mm) of precipitation a year, less than most major Eastern Seaboard cities, e.g., New York City averages 47.3 inches (1200 mm), but is cloudy an average of 226 days per year vs. 132 in New York City. Most of the precipitation falls as drizzle or light rain because Seattle is in the rain shadow of the Olympic mountains. The temperature and weather are similar to that of Vancouver, BC, Seattle's major Canadian neighbor.

80 miles (130 km) to the west, the Hoh Rain Forest, in the Olympic National Park, records an annual average rainfall of 142 inches (3600 mm), and the Washington state capital, Olympia, south of the rain shadow, receives 52 inches (1320 mm). Snow falls on occasion, but rarely sticks very long. Sunnier "California weather" typically dominates from mid-July through mid-September, arriving later and leaving earlier than in Portland, Oregon to the south.

Serious exceptions to Seattle's raininess can occur during El Niño years, when the marine weather systems track to the south, affecting California instead. Since the region depends on water stored in its mountain snow packs during the dryer summer months, El Niño winters are not only hard on the ski areas, but can result in water rationing in the summer and a shortage of hydro-electric generated power.

See also

Sources

  • Jones, Nard. Seattle, Doubleday and Co., New York City, 1972
  • Sale, Roger. Seattle: Past To Present. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1976.
  • Shear, Emmett. "Seattle: Booms and Busts". Author has granted blanket permission for material from that paper to be reused in Wikipedia.
  • Speidel, William C. Sons of the Profits. Nettle Creek Publishing Company, Seattle, 1967.
  • Speidel, William C. Doc Maynard, The Man Who Invented Seattle. Nettle Creek Publishing Company, Seattle, 1978

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