When this land was first reserved as a potential site for a university or even an industrial center, the land developer called it Brooklyn, comparing the area to Brooklyn, New York, because of its position across the water from the main part of the city. Once the UW was established in 1895, people began referring to the area as University Station, and gradually the name Brooklyn fell by the wayside.
The University of Washington was the site of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in the early 1900s, which led to the development of many new buildings, businesses, and the general beautification of the landscape. Much of the architecture still remains on campus, and the developers had the foresight to keep the view of Mt. Rainier unobstructed in many places. University Avenue was the center of the action for visitors. If you’ve been to ‘The Ave’ recently, you know that this phenomenon hasn’t changed in the past 100 years! Nor, probably, will it ever.
True to the predictions of its developers, the University District really is a ‘city within a city.’ It is a hub for public transportation (and just wait until the light rail arrives in a few short years!), has its own shopping center in the University Village
, and houses a ridiculous number of ever-changing restaurants, bars, and shops along The Ave. Suffice it to say that there are enough things to do to keep thousands of college students busy at all hours of the day and night, year-round.
Activities and Attractions
Even if you’re not a student, or in your twenties, the U-District still has tons of stuff that might appeal to you. The University Farmers Market runs year-round and is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Pick up some produce for the week, chat up the super-friendly vendors, and listen to the street performers play their fiddles or didgeridoos (there’s always something different)!
Every May, the U-District Street Fair takes over the Ave in a “country fair meets urban retail corridor” atmosphere. People flock from all over the city to see live bands perform, sample food from local vendors, and peruse the crafts of local artists.
Popping through at a less peak time also has its benefits. Take a walk through UW campus and check out the infinitely cool library building or maybe the Burke Museum. If it’s rainy out (not that it ever is), the neighborhood has several historic theaters, including the Sundance Cinema and Varsity as well as the Neptune, which is transforming to a music venue in Fall 2011. The Historic University Theater specializes in improv shows.
Hungry? Go to Portage Bay Café for breakfast—they have a ‘toppings bar’ for you to doctor up your pancakes and French toast any way you like! Get some Thai food at Thai Tom for lunch, but be prepared to wait in line for one of their six tables. In the evening, hit up the College Inn pub, which was built for the very same Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition that brought all the action to this neighborhood in the first place!
Homes in University District
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The University of Washington campus and the surrounding area is a magnet for the twenty-something crowd in Seattle. But don’t be fooled—you don’t have to be a student to enjoy this lively and funky neighborhood.