Seattle is a joyful place to live!
A true neighborhood, in my opinion, has a place for everyone. It is a mix of economic, education, social status, age and race that creates a community of people living and working together – usually in harmony and with a mutual pride and concern for the quality of life within their area.
What elements are essential?
As I travel around Seattle – by bus – I am fascinated by the variety of neighborhoods, with distinct personalities, local shops/bars/restaurants serving the local community. They may be interrupted by heavily trafficked highways and Avenues; areas of highly commercial districts; medical facilities, etc. but closely around these districts I see a mix of single family homes, apartment buildings; a variety of small office buildings as well as ground floor commercial shops and offices; small and, often, large parks and recreational areas.
Newer buildings are interspersed, usually in the more highly trafficked areas, offering more up-scale spaces and up-scale commercial shops, banks, Insurance offices, restaurants, fancy coffee shops, pharmacies. Older buildings tend to house older deli’s, coffee shops, small clothing stores, mom&pop shops in all their variety and interest, card shops, liquor stores, dry cleaners, bars and gathering places that are the core of neighborhood services and maintain the character and atmosphere of the Neighborhood.
However, Seattle is changing – perhaps from the center out – as major corporations are making mega investments in the central area. From Elliot Bay to Lake Washington, up hill and down dale, is a finite amount of space so every year the city gets higher, gets denser. So does the traffic. So do the sidewalks. The latest idea is a 102 story tower at 4th Avenue and Columbia Street, rising 1,111 feet – packing in restaurants, shops, a hotel, office space and, towering over the all rooftops, 1,200 apartments. (No word about parking.) I guess this is a neighborhood all in itself!
So, what is a neighborhood in the 21st century urban culture? It will get more crowded as larger and larger buildings encroach on older buildings. Many older structures – especially those deemed “historically important” will be transformed with new uses or incorporated into new, larger structures. At the moment the city is thriving amidst change. In South Lake Union thousands of tech workers join other workers and residents in Art Walks, entertainment and an active streetlife. In Queen Anne traditional bars and restaurants retain the character of a neighborhood slowly changing, and in the Denny Triangle area major construction is underway.
Stay tuned to my blog as I continue to explore Seattle, watch the changing city grow and seek out the many ways the city will change but retain its joyful way of life.