The giant tract of land south of downtown between I-5 and Rainier Valley is known as Beacon Hill, easy to find because of the old veteran’s hospital that sits atop its peak. Despite its close proximity to downtown and First Hill, Beacon Hill has a vibe all its own.
The key to Beacon Hill is its seclusion from the surrounding areas. This was a problem at first; no one was willing to move to the hill that was just slightly too far away. Eventually the hill was re-graded, making the area more accessible. When a trolley line was finally put in, many immigrants flocked to the neighborhood to farm and sell their produce to others.
In 1909, a jail was built and inmates could “work off” part of their sentence by helping to clear the land for Jefferson park. And when the US Army warplanes came to Seattle in 1918, they had no airport at which to land, so they used this very park as their runway. This prompted the city to build Boeing field at the base of Beacon Hill.
Depending upon where you are on Beacon Hill, you’ll get a different feel for the neighborhood. The busiest section is on the north end, especially where Beacon Hill meets the Rainier Valley. Up at the top of the hill, things settle down into a nice residential area with a small business district. The farther south you go, the more secluded and quiet things get.
Activities and Attractions
Though Beacon Hill is largely residential, there are several pockets of activity in different areas. Beacon Avenue runs the length of the hill, and if you travel from north to south, you’ll get a great view of downtown and then reach a small area with restaurants and stores near 15th Avenue. Stop at The Station for coffee, or Delite Bakery—one of the favorite spots for residents here. If you keep heading south, you’ll go through Jefferson Park, which has a golf course, hiking trails, tennis courts, and kid-friendly play equipment.
Along Rainier Avenue on the east side of the hill, there is an abundance of places to check out. Go bowling at Imperial Lanes or grab food at one of the many ethnic restaurants that line the street.
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