city slicker Seattle

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The Independent Culture
Twenty-five years ago to the day, Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead. Since then, the city has grown from a regional port into a fast-moving international centre that barely has time to remember its most famous guitarist

Where's Jimi?: He's buried, with a guitar on his headstone, at the Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery - a rare green space in the horrible suburb of Renton, that has far too much tarmac and concrete per capita than is good.

Remembering Hendrix: A few local bars are holding tributes tonight. The biggest event was the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Festival held earlier this month, which featured 20 of America's most stellar guitarists. The only permanent Hendrix memorial is a sculpture in the local zoo. However Paul Allen, number two at Microsoft, is gathering the most comprehensive collection of memorabilia, and this will form the centrepiece of the Experience Music Project, a multimedia exhibition dedicated to musicians of the northwest, due to open in a couple of years.

Musical heritage: Others from Seattle to have shaped modern music include Ray Charles, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and, er, the Muzak Corporation - the firm that supplies the tunes to supermarkets, elevators and restaurant toilets, is based here.

Seattle's pet hate: California. One reason might be that there are so many coming up here to the "rural northwest" that the place could soon turn into an LA-like sprawl.

Food: Read seafood. There are so many great seafood restaurants in the city, but you can't go wrong at either of acclaimed local chef Tom Douglas's two establishments: the $50-a-head Dahlia Lounge and Etta's, where herb- crusted king salmon, pit-roasted over alder with grilled shitake relish and cornbread pudding, is the signature dish.

Drinks of choice: Strong coffee. A Seattle-style double espresso, available on every street corner. In bars there's no reason to drink weak lager: the Pacific Northwest boasts some of the best small brewery ales in a country that's rapidly turning its back on yellow fizz.

Room with a view: The only downtown hotel right on the Puget Sound is the Edgewater Inn. Residents used to be able to fish out of their rooms, but this facility was withdrawn around the time that the Led Zeppelin entourage came to town, landed a sand shark and tried to get a groupie to... Ah well, you can imagine the rest.

Skyline: Dominated by the Space Needle, a spindly thing built for the 1962 World Fair, that has become the city's symbol and one of the best- selling designs in the dozens of downtown T-shirt shops. It does look good lit up at night, but a more pleasing landmark is the broad-shouldered 4,392 metre-high beast that is Mt Rainier, some 95 miles southeast.

Seeing Seattle from home: Increasingly easy as the area gains appeal among movie directors looking for an alternative to crowded California. Films shot here include Sleepless in Seattle, Disclosure and Singles, plus TV's Frasier. For an idea of the surrounding countryside, watch Free Willy and Northern Exposure.

Other big plus point: A close proximity to another great northwest city, Portland Oregon: also a target for let's get-back-to-the-country Californians.

Seattle's British equivalent: Manchester. Both are in the Northwest, get lots of rain, and are famous for rock music. But America's Pacific Northwest, with its ocean, islands and mountains, is just a mite more beautiful than the Lancashire coast, the rain at least creates lush temperate rainforests, and Pearl Jam sold more copies of their last album in a week than Manchester's Oasis did in an entire year. Another difference is that there are plenty of jobs. Boeing has more than 70,000 on its payroll, while the software giant, Microsoft, employs 18,000.