The Central District is on the east side of Capitol Hill and is considered one of the oldest surviving residential neighborhoods in the city. Throughout its history it has seen many changes in demographics and politics, but has recently seen a period of new construction and community improvement projects.
The area was first cleared for development in the mid-1800s. It was the ideal place to settle because of its close proximity to the business district. Trees were logged and cable cars were installed, and many homes and buildings were constructed that remain historical landmarks today.
At different times, the area was home to different cultural groups. First were European Americans, then Japanese, Jews, and African Americans. The Central District was an area of racial tension during the Civil Rights era, due to housing discrimination. In the years that followed, the community united to restore peace while maintaining the neighborhood’s cultural heritage.
The location of the Central District—well, it’s very central, you see. It doesn’t have a big business district of its own, but it borders Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the Madison Valley, all of which are hopping with activity.
The community is very proud of its diversity; a festival is held yearly to “strengthen community pride, integrity, and spirituality while promoting cultural diversity throughout the Central District.”. Other organizations, like the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, devote their time to promoting the arts and culture of the African American community.
Activities and Attractions
The infamous Skillet food truck expanded to its first actual restaurant here in the Central District—make sure you stop in for some of their crafty cuisine (they have bacon jam—need we say more?). The CD is also home to one of the only Ezell’s Fried Chicken places in the city. There is no shortage of food from many ethnicities, from Ethiopian to Spanish to Vietnamese and Haitian.
The Central Cinema provides a dine-in movie watching experience, showing classic films and hosting cartoon happy hours. Not only are their prices cheap, but you can order food and have it delivered right to your seat (or couch) in the theater!
The Bon Odori Festival is held every year in July to celebrate Japanese culture: arts and craft fairs, traditional music, martial arts, and dance are some of the main attractions.
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