Neighborhood Spotlight: Downtown Seattle

downtown seattle

 

The central business district of the city, Downtown Seattle is home to bustling traffic, the city’s transportation hub, some of the tallest buildings on the west coast, and some amazing opportunities for its residents. Easily the most walkable neighborhood in the city, residents enjoy high-end urban living and access to spectacular beauty only the Pacific Northwest can offer.

Seattle’s Third Home

historic downtown seattle

In stark contrast to many other cities in the western United States, Seattle’s earliest origins didn’t actually begin at its current commercial center. Instead, the founding members of the Denny Party first landed at Alki Point in the area now known as West Seattle. After just 5 months at the “New York Alki” settlement, Arthur Denny abandoned the site for a better tract of land along the eastern shore of Elliott Bay in the area known as Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square served as the young city’s central business hub, with shops, stables, and blacksmiths facilitating the gold trade to Alaska in the decades to come. Current-day Downtown Seattle was a residential area considered to be on the outskirts of town, but the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed the entire business hub of the city, necessitating a move further northwest for fresh construction. In today’s terms, the fire caused over $650 million worth of damage to businesses and property.

great seattle fire

A new city ordinance was instigated, requiring a downtown area be built of stone and brick while the street level was raised almost two dozen feet to allow for proper sewage systems. In the year following the fire, the city’s population doubled to 40,000 residents and made it a major candidate in the race to build the Great Northern Railway.

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1987 spurred Seattle’s growth, as the city was the furthest port north for ships, railroads, and speculators bringing gold back from Alaska. It’s never looked back.

Manhattan of the West

downtown seattle upwards Seattle’s downtown is so active and exciting that those critical of the area’s growth in density have dubbed the expansion a “Manhattanization” trend. Skyscrapers began popping up in the city around 1960 and along with the bombastic 1962 Century 21 Exposition (or World’s Fair), the city’s landscape and skyline changed forever. The construction of the Space Needle, monorail, several sporting venues and performance arts buildings established the city as forward-thinking and progressive in both the science and arts communities.

About 65,000 people live in Seattle’s core neighborhood and the area is growing steadily – faster than any other neighborhood, actually. An 8 percent growth from 2010-2014 put added emphasis on downtown and showed the effects of a 2006 vote to increase the height of construction projects in the area after almost 20 years of strict regulation.

City Life in the Northwest

pike place market
Residents of Downtown Seattle enjoy breathtaking views with a unique look at the current changes happening in the city. Construction cranes are ever-present, hovering over soon-to-be skyscrapers to accommodate the city’s growing population and economic interests. Those who live in the center of it all enjoy easy access to public transportation, cultural centers like the Showbox, Benaroya Hall, and the Seattle Public Library, and amazing restaurants from world-renowned chefs.

post alley seattle Pike Place Market is a short walk down the hill from 3rd Avenue, which serves as the primary transportation hub of the city. Residents enjoy walks through the surprisingly affordable and still-bountiful farmer’s market, views of the waterfront, and tourist watching. Access to the Washington State Ferries offer a relaxing trip to neighboring islands along the Olympic Peninsula and points further north. Private marinas and docks adorn several points along downtown, but many residents prefer Shilshole Marina near Ballard or a private dock along Lakes Union or Washington.

Life in Seattle is a rewarding and always interesting experience, leaving nothing to be desired for first-time visitors or live-long residents alike. We hope we can help you find a home in this amazing, dynamic city!

Image source, labelled for reuse
Image source, labelled for reuse
Image source, labelled for reuse

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