Paul Allen's Gifts

Celebrating his many contributions to Seattle and beyond

Paul Allen, photo by Beatrice de Gea, courtesy Vulcan Inc

This festive winter season brings thoughts of giving and sharing. The late Paul Allen left Seattle a richer place with his generous gifts to the community and to the world. The lifelong Seattleite died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October at age 65.

The noted philanthropist cofounded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates, making him one of the richest people on the planet. As one of the most influential people in the world, Allen’s wide-ranging interests and generous support of the community has forever altered the landscape of Seattle. His impact to the region included investments in real estate, science, sports and music. He also gave generously to support social services and the arts in our region.

The benefits of his work to the wider world included addressing the Ebola crisis, supporting many environmental and conservation causes, research on the human brain and artificial intelligence. He assisted developing countries in expanding healthcare systems, infrastructure and diversifying economies.

Allen committed to giving away most of his wealth, and the world is a richer place for his actions. His good works garnered him many awards and recognitions, but he was not one to seek the spotlight. He wrote, “Our net worth is ultimately defined not by dollars but rather by how well we serve others.”

Bill Gates said of his friend: “Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, ‘If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.’ That’s the kind of person he was.” His sister Jody Allen said of his passing, “My brother was a remarkable individual on every level.”

Perhaps your holiday activities and ventures into the new year will include some of Allen’s lasting legacies to our region.

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  1. Paul Allen’s 1997 purchase of the Seattle Seahawks saved the team from moving to Los Angeles. He is also owner of the Portland Trailblazers basketball team and part-owner of the Seattle Sounders soccer team. His purchase of the Seahawks was instrumental in the development of CenturyLink Field. Here Paul Allen is seen waving to the “12s” during the Super Bowl parade and rally at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field in Feb 2014, courtesy Vulcan Inc.
  2. Paul Allen’s Vulcan real estate company was instrumental in Seattle’s South Lake Union development, including Amazon’s campus—the biggest urban corporate campus in the country. Allen’s original vision was to create a huge urban park in the area (the Seattle Commons) but voters turned down the idea. Photo courtesy Vulcan Inc.
  3. Paul Allen was an accomplished musician and longtime fan of Jimi Hendrix. His love of music led him to develop Seattle Center’s Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPop (originally called the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum)
  4. In 1998 Allen began acquiring and preserving the iconic armor and warbirds – the last of their kind – that you can see at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum on location at Paine Field in Everett. Photo by Eric Friedebach
  5. In 1999, Paul Allen saved the iconic Cinerama Theater in downtown Seattle (which opened just a year after the Seattle World’s Fair) by purchasing it and providing a multi-million-dollar rejuvenation

There are many more examples of Paul Allen’s generosity to the Seattle area, including the annual Seattle Art Fair, Seattle’s Living Computer Museum and Labs, the Upstream Music Fest, the Allen Institute (dedicated to answering some of the biggest questions in bioscience and accelerating research worldwide), education (ApexLearning.com), investments in aerospace (Stratolaunch “Space is closer than you think”). His generous donation to the University of Washington created the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering at the UW.