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I Wonder Why...?

KNKX Public Radio

What sorts of things about the Northwest have you wondered about? Attributes you find endearing, odd, even irritating. That's what we explore in our weekly series, I Wonder Why...?


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What sorts of things about the Northwest have you wondered about? Attributes you find endearing, odd, even irritating. That's what we explore in our weekly series, I Wonder Why...?




Remembering True Crime Author Ann Rule

Friends and fans are remembering true-crime author Ann Rule as a prolific writer, a tireless advocate for victims and an expert about enforcement and crime investigation. Rule died Sunday at the age of 83. KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick interviewed Ann Rule three years ago about her life and career. Click on the link to hear the interview.


Why doesn't that part of Washington belong to Canada?

There’s a tiny part of Washington state that is so remote you have to cross an international border twice to get there. Isolated, surrounded by water and Canadians … why did Point Roberts become a part of Washington and not Canada? Read more on 'I Wonder Why ... ?'


Why are Seattleites averse to stepping out in style?

Do most of the clothes in your closet range from hiking fleece to dress fleece, or some variations of plaid and jeans? That’s probably what has fueled Seattle’s reputation as an unfashionable city. Overdressing – something that’s just not possible in many American cities – can become a sort of phobia. Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?


How did the 'City of Destiny' lose out to Seattle?

(This is the second installment of a 2-part series about Tacoma’s designation as the City of Destiny .) Why didn’t Tacoma become the premiere city on Puget Sound? How did the City of Destiny lose out to Seattle? Back in 1873, it looked like Tacoma would be graced with fame and fortune when the city beat out Seattle to become the terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Read more on "I Wonder Why ... ?"


Why Tacoma owes its slogan to a ‘crazy person’

Tacoma has been known as the “City of Destiny” for more than 140 years. And while the city’s slogan is unique because it has lasted for so long (when was the last time you heard Seattle referred to as “Jet City?”), it also comes from a 19 Century “crazy person” who was a relentless promoter of Tacoma. Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?


Why does Seattle have so few kids and so many dogs?

Here’s an odd fact: Seattle’s dog population is estimated to be around 140,000 and climbing. The number of kids? … 93,000 and dropping. Seattle’s not such a bad place to raise kids, but based on the 2010 census, roughly 15 percent of our population is 18 or younger. And, when you compare Seattle to Boston, New York City or Chicago our share of little ones looks pretty paltry. In fact, Seattle is neck and neck with San Francisco, which has the lowest population of children of all major U.S....


Why is "Louie Louie" Washington's theme song?

In the 1980’s, the Washington State Legislature considered making it the official state song. The measure failed, but “Louie Louie” is still listed on government websites as the “unofficial” state rock song. Sure it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to, but is a song about a Jamaican sailor longing for his girl really the best tune to represent Washington State? How did this classic party song become so much a part of our cultural DNA, anyway? Read More on "I Wonder Why ... ?"


I Wonder Why ... Reaction to 'Why is Seattle such a white city?'

Race can be a volatile subject. Still, judging from the reaction to a recent "I Wonder Why ... ?" story, it’s something people are eager to talk about. Charla Bear’s story explored why Seattle is one of the whitest big cities in the country, whiter than such places as Denver, Oklahoma City, even Minneapolis. The response to the report was overwhelming. Read more on "I Wonder Why ... ?"


Why do so many park the wrong way in Seattle?

I just moved here from Chicago, and there’s one thing that has been bugging me – the way people park. In some ways, Seattleites seem to really follow the rules. People don’t jaywalk, for instance. So why do so many people park on the wrong side of the street? In my neighborhood in West Seattle, near Alki Beach, cars are parked higgledy-piggledy. Nose to nose, tail to tail. The streets are really narrow, and traffic runs in both directions, so I can understand the temptation to just zip...


Why are there so many serial killers in the Northwest?

From Ted Bundy to Gary Ridgway, some of the most notorious murderers in our nation’s history committed their crimes in the Northwest. While we may not have the most serial killers, we’ve certainly got that reputation. And that got us to wondering: Why are there so many serial killers in the Northwest? Read the story on "I Wonder Why ...?"


Why are we such gear freaks in the NW?

In the Pacific Northwest, we know that yoga pants, polar fleece and hiking shoes are great for grocery shopping. But when we head into the great outdoors, we love to pile on the high-tech gear. Sure, the weather here demands a certain level of protection from the elements. But what is it that compels people in the Pacific Northwest to want every piece of equipment out there? Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?


Why did blackberry brambles become such a NW problem?

“It just doesn’t like to stop. It’s very tenacious.” If you have property in the Pacific Northwest, there’s one plant you’ve most likely encountered … and battled – The Himalayan Blackberry. It’s enemy No.1 in the Northwest. So, where did this plant come from and why did it become such a pervasive pain in the garden? Read more on I Wonder Why...?


Why can't you see the animals at Woodland Park Zoo?

Have you ever been to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and had a difficult time seeing the animals through all of the trees and plants? Well, it’s supposed to be that way. It’s all by design. The naturalistic animal exhibit was born in Seattle at Woodland Park Zoo nearly 30 years ago. Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?


What's with all of the totem poles in Washington?

With all the totem poles in Washington State, it might surprise you to know the cedar monument isn’t from this region. Though some local tribes now carve them, they didn’t originally. In fact, the first one here was pilfered from another state. Read More on I Wonder Why ... ?


Why is the 'Boeing Bust' still with us?

Maybe you’ve heard the line, "Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights." That well-worn phrase came from a billboard in 1971 as the Boeing Company stalled and then fell into a tailspin. And while the "Boeing Bust" happened a long time ago, that economic slump, almost as much as the most recent one, is still a part of our collective consciousness. Why does it still resonate all these years later? Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?


Why the Alaskan fishing fleet is based in Seattle

On the reality TV show “The Deadliest Catch,” you see the crew of the Northwestern enduring storms and other dangers while crab fishing in the Bering Sea in the middle of winter. You might be surprised to learn that the Northwestern and the hundreds of other boats that make up the North Pacific Fishing Fleet are not based in Alaska. Rather, they travel thousands of miles south each year to tie up in Seattle. So, why is the fleet based here? There certainly are more convenient ports closer...


Did Jesus Christ make Seattle under protest?

You might say Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. Or, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure. Either way, this provocative statement is a big help when you’re trying to get around downtown Seattle. It’s a mnemonic device, a sentence that helps you remember the names and order of the city’s streets. The first letter of each word corresponds to a pair of streets between Pioneer Square and Belltown. Jesus starts with a ‘J,’ which means Jefferson and James come first. The ‘C’ in Christ...


Why does Seattle still care about the World's Fair?

The Seattle World’s Fair – which opened 50 years ago this weekend – was pretty small on the global scale, compared to later World’s Fairs in Montreal or Vancouver, B.C., or Seville, Spain. It would seem tiny next to the immense Exposition in Shanghai in 2010. But the memories of 1962 burn strong for those who attended. And historians and civic leaders say the legacy still matters today. Even if you're brand-new to Seattle, you might have heard that once upon a time there was a World’s Fair...


Why did Costco start in the Northwest and get so big?

The Northwest is home to a variety of companies that have changed how we live our lives. We spend more now on coffee thanks to Starbucks. Amazon is changing the way we read books. And another company with deep local roots has gotten many of us to buy more of everything: Costco. Read more on I Wonder Why ...?


Why do we tint our windows in the rainy NW?

You pull up to a stop light, look over and the windows on the SUV next to you are so dark you can’t see in. Why are we hiding behind tinted automobile windows here in the Pacific Northwest? Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?