A look at past presidents’ visits to Seattle as the city prepares for President Biden


President Joe Biden is visiting Seattle on Friday, joining a long line of presidents who have come to Emerald City.

Biden will use his Earth Day appearance to discuss his work to “cut costs for American families” and grow the clean energy economy, according to a White House press release last week.

Before heading to Seattle, Biden will travel to Portland on Thursday to discuss the $1 trillion infrastructure package approved by Congress and signed into law in November. The bill will allocate $1.2 billion to Oregon and $8.6 billion to Washington State.

Past visits to the White House have resulted in road closures and increased traffic due to presidential motorcades. The US Secret Service typically does not reveal the exact route in advance, which can make it difficult to predict which roads will be closed.

Biden last visited Seattle in November 2019 while campaigning in the Democratic presidential primaries, attending a fundraiser at the home of Amazon executive David Zapolsky.

His visit on Friday comes 141 years after a president’s first visit to Washington, when President Rutherford B. Hayes arrived by steamboat at Yesler Pier in 1880 – 27 years after the founding of Washington Territory, according to HistoryLink.

After that, the presidents regularly traveled to the Puget Sound area to deliver speeches and go on fishing trips, with Air Force One landing at Boeing Field or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

President Benjamin Harrison visited Seattle in 1891, two years after Washington became a state, and President Theodore Roosevelt visited Seattle in 1903, staying at Washington Hotel during his trip.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower pressed the button that started an electronic countdown timer on November 10, 1958, starting the countdown to the Century 21 Exposition – the official name of the Seattle World’s Fair from 1962.

Then-Vice President Richard Nixon, along with his wife and daughter, rode the Seattle Center monorail during their stay in 1962. President Gerald Ford spoke at a regional convention of restaurateurs and hoteliers in Seattle in 1980.

President Ronald Reagan once received a University of Washington hat and football during his visit to the Seattle Center.

In more recent history, President Barack Obama visited Seattle in June 2016 to campaign for Governor Jay Inslee and congressional Democrats.

Within 24 hours, Obama drove through Seattle and the Eastside in a motorcade and delivered a 30-minute speech at the Washington State Convention Center, mentioning that his mother once lived on Mercer Island.

Obama also visited Seattle in 2015 for a re-election event for U.S. Senator Patty Murray at the Westin Seattle Hotel. Traffic was halted as Interstate 5 and other downtown streets were cleared.

Although Donald Trump never visited Seattle as sitting president, he campaigned in Everett, Lynden and Spokane in 2016.

Before that, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were greeted by typical Seattle weather in 2006 and 1996, respectively.

“I know it’s a little humid in here,” Clinton told a gathering at Pike Place Market, before adding that it had not rained during his previous visits. “I feel like you’ve finally accepted me as one of your own.”

Material from the Seattle Times archive is included in this report.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect date for President Eisenhower’s visit and the incorrect status of Richard Nixon in 1962.

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