The city government provides more utilities than many cities; either running the whole operation, such as the water and electricity services, or handling the billing and administration, but contracting out the rest of the operations,like trash and recycling collections.
As with most U.S. cities, the county judicial system handles felony crimes — the Seattle Municipal Court deals with parking tickets, traffic infractions, and misdemeanors. Seattle does not have its own jail, contracting out 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. After reaching its highest murder rate in 1994 with 69 homicides, Seattle's murder rate declined to a 40-year low with 24 homicides in 2004. By 2006, Seattle's murder rate had increased, with thirty murders that year. Auto theft is another matter: Seattle has until recently ranked in the top ten "hot spots" for auto theft; the Seattle Police Department has responded by nearly doubling the number of auto theft detail detectives, and started a "bait car" program in 2004.
In 1981, Seattle held a contest to come up with a new official nickname to replace "the Queen City." "Queen City" had been devised by real estate promoters and used since 1869, but was also the nickname of: Cincinnati;Denver;Regina, Saskatchewan;Buffalo;Bangor, Maine;Helena, Montana;Burlington, Vermont,Charlotte, North Carolina, and several other cities.The winner of this contest, selected in 1982, was "the Emerald City". Submitted by Californian Sarah Sterling-Franklin, it referred to the lush, thickly forested 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. It has also been known as the "Portal to the Pacific", a phrase enscribed on the arches of the tunnel leading westward into the city from the Interstate 90 floating bridge over Lake Washington.
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. On October 20, 2006, the Space Needle was adorned with the new slogan "Metronatural." The slogan is a result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by the Seattle Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The official bird of Seattle is the great blue heron, named by the City Council in 2003.
Bertha Knight Landes, mayor from 1926 to 1928. She was the first woman mayor of a major American city. She is to date the only female mayor of Seattle.
Bailey Gatzert was mayor from 1875 to 1876. He was the first Jewish mayor of Seattle, and narrowly missed being the first Jewish mayor of a major American city (Moses Bloom became mayor of Iowa City, Iowa in 1873). He has been the only Jewish mayor of Seattle to date.