Seattle was also one of the rum-running capitals of America during Prohibition. There were many bootleggers, but the most famous and prolific was a former Seattle police lieutenant named Roy Olmstead. Olmstead was fired from the police department after being busted while unloading a hundred cases of smuggled Canadian whiskey from a boat in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. After paying a fine, he devoted himself full time to building the largest bootlegging operation in the area and became known in Seattle newspapers as “The King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers.” He bought a mansion and lived high on the hog until he was finally taken down in 1924 through the use of federal wiretaps.

By the ’50s, Seattle had added Boeing to its claim to fame, but was still a mostly blue-collar burg that was once described as an “aesthetic dustbin” by Sir Thomas Beecham, a short-term conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Present-day Seattle has become a pricey, cosmopolitan center, home to Microsoft and legions of Starbucks latte lovers. The city is now famous as the birthplace of grunge music, and possesses a flourishing art, theater, and club scene that many would have thought improbable just a few decades ago. Yet some things never change-crime being one of them.

Seattle’s evolution to high finance and high tech has provided even greater opportunity and reward to those who might be ethically, morally, or economically challenged (crooks, in other words). Seattle Noir explores the seamy underbelly of this gleaming, modern metropolis known as “The Emerald City.”



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