These 5 Seattle Stories Will Even Keep History Buffs Scratching Their Heads

Setting the Speed in World Hydroplaning

When one thinks of “hydroplaning” they might get precarious visions of a car swerving on a freeway during torrential rain or falling from a wakeboard and taking an elegant skip across a lake’s surface. They might even remember the amazing daredevil who decided to hydroplane his motorcycle down a 20ft wave in Tahiti. However, what they may not know is that hydroplaning history was made in Seattle. During one September afternoon in 1950, with help from Seattle residents, a speed racer named Stan Sayers was able to build a boat that won him the world record for fastest hydroplane. Ironically called “Slo-mo-shun,” his boat proved to be anything but slow, and helped him beat the old record by 18mph! Way to go Stan!

The Great Seattle Bank Heist

Back when banks lacked high tech security cameras and laser beams (Do they even have laser beams, or is that just in the movies?), there was a group of robbers who decided to take their chances on Pioneer Safe Deposit Vaults during President’s Day weekend in 1954. The two vaults, located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, were notoriously foolproof and had already withstood fire damage and an attempted burglary using dynamite. However, with the right equipment and precautions, this group of bandits escaped the scene with $200-$500k of cash. What was their secret? They were somehow able to weld a small hole in the vaults, which they used to pass through the 400 safety deposit boxes located inside. By leaving everything but the cash behind, they were untraceable to the authorities.

When the Cold War Russians Invented the Donut

In an attempt to relieve Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the Soviets decided to organize a trip into the “homes” of America by sending over 10 Russian architects, headed by Alexander Vlasov, to survey American buildings and construction. Their 30-day, 13-city tour became especially memorable when they arrived in Seattle. Here they confused motels for underprivileged housing, claimed they had invented the telephone, and dubbed donuts as “pouchki,” a Russian dessert. Needless to say, they left a lasting impression.

The Hometown Hero Hits it Big in Boxing

On August 22nd, 1957 amateur boxer, Pete Rademacher, went head to head against reigning champion Floyd Patterson. Although the fight sounds exciting, the most impressive part of the story was the fact that Pete, a Washington local, was able to organize such a big event in a town that had no sports team, and on top of that, with the current title holder. How did he do it? Riding off the momentum of his Olympic gold win, Pete was able to get investors to back a corporation called Youth Unlimited, which he used to fund the event. Pretty resourceful if you ask us. In the end, 26,000 people came to watch the match at Sick’s Stadium, and although he lost, Pete became the first amateur to make a direct transition into a pro title fight.

A Bear-y Close Call

The 50’s were the age of Mad Men, and while billboard and magazine ads were saturating the market, some companies had to get their name out using more unconventional methods. This is exactly what happened on October 12, 1957, when a Washington man thought he’d use the town’s Christmas tree and a bear costume to get the word out about a local event. He dressed up in the bear costume and climbed to the top of the tree to shower the townspeople with flyers for the event. Unfortunately, people mistook him for a real bear and attempted to shoot him down until a deputy recognized that this bear was wearing shoes and safely got him down. We bet he stuck with magazine ads after that.

Visit Seattle and Discover the Scenes Behind its Quirky History

If Portland is weird, Seattle is quirky. That’s why we recommend staying at a hotel to match this city’s unique personality. For a taste of Art Deco that will transform you into an old Hollywood star, book a room at the Hotel Deca, a Seattle gem that opened back in 1931. Located in the heart of Seattle’s University district, this full-service boutique hotel is the perfect spot to explore the best of Seattle’s past and present.

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