We all know that Seattle has some major ups and downs (elevation-wise, of course), but no area was as steep as the region just north of downtown. After years of debating, city developers decided to do the most logical thing: remove the hill itself. The project, known as the Denny Regrade, took the better part of a decade around 1910 and trimmed back tons of earth, leaving the slope more manageable. Despite the new topography, growth didn’t happen as rapidly as hoped. Several businesses set up shop there, but instead of the grand hotels and skyscrapers there were car dealerships and warehouses.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that Belltown got a facelift; the area was rezoned for high-rise residences with ample business spaces on street level. Young, trendy folks moved in and made their homes, bringing with them a unique culture that survives today.
Belltown has the second highest Walk Score
in the city at 97 out of 100. What this means is: sell your car. You won’t be needing it. Everything you could conceivably ask for is available within the borders of this small neighborhood. And while the mere mention of the place strikes up my inner techno music (uhnn-tss, uhnn-tss), there is far more to Belltown than its nightclub scene. Even during the day, it’s the place to go if you want the newest, the shiniest, the trendiest.
Activities and Attractions
Oh, where to start? The main ‘strip’ of Belltown is 1st Avenue, running parallel to the waterfront and on into downtown. Along this street, you’ll find a gaggle of places to stop: art galleries, clothing stores, home furnishing shops, jewelers, salons, and of course places to eat and drink.
Some of the classic venues are The 5 Point Café, The Crocodile (closed for a while, but back by demand of live-music-lovers), and the very vintage Cinerama movie theater. Newer, highly popular additions include Dahlia Lounge, List (an Italian lounge), and Bathtub Gin & Co., a delightful speakeasy tucked in an alley. For a little fresh air, scope out the Olympic Sculpture Park to enjoy the many art installations by local artists, not to mention the view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains beyond.
Homes in Belltown
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High-rise condos, swanky boutiques, and a trendy nightlife have helped Belltown earn its reputation as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Seattle.