The narrow strip of land along the western shore of Lake Union is aptly named Westlake, much like it’s brother to the east, Eastlake. Westlake is a major transportation corridor between downtown and North Seattle, filled with a mix of condos, apartments, offices, homes and houseboats.
The history of Westlake is inexorably linked to the growth of Seattle’s coal and timber industries along Lake Union. Transporting coal from Renton and Newcastle to ships on Elliott Bay eventually lead to construction of Seattle’s first railway along what is now Westlake Ave. A large lumber mill at the south end of Lake Union also fueled the need for transport along the lake. The Seattle Electric Railway extended its line to Fremont over a planked trestle hugging the western shore of Lake Union. That route still exists today as Westlake Ave, which was paved in 1906.
Westlake is a very narrow sliver of a neighborhood, sandwiched between Aurora Ave and Lake Union. Three major arterial roads cut through the neighborhood as the main routes from downtown to neighborhoods like Fremont, Ballard and Wallingford. Transport to and from downtown is easy, either via bus, car or bicycle.
Westlake does house quite a few folks in a hodge-podge of accommodations. There are still 100 yr homes mixed in with more modern apartments and condos and even some townhomes. Like Eastlake, Westlake also houses a significant enclave of houseboat dwellers along the northwest shore of Lake Union.
Despite its small size, Westlake is fairly crowded, with parking sometimes difficult on its crowded, narrow streets. It is also the land of urban condo/apartment dwellers with very few kids. There are also quite a few office buildings in this area, including some of Seattle’s most unique offices with parking spots for your boat underneath!
Activities and Attractions
Westlake is home to a number of major attractions. The new South Lake Union Park is a great place to enjoy on a nice day, and from there it is a short hop to Kenmore Air and Argosy Cruises. You can also rent an electric boat or hot tub boat. The first Sunday of the month brings the infamous pancake breakfast at the Swedish Cultural Center.
Lake Union has always been heavy with commercial activity. The lumber and coal transport along Westlake Ave has been changed to marinas, boat maintenance and yacht brokers. If you are looking to pilfer your retirement savings for a boat, you’ll likely end up at an establishment along Westlake.
While Westlake is very urban and convenient, it doesn’t have much in the way of restaurants or stores of its own. It is convenient to the hotspots in Fremont, Queen Anne, Eastlake and South Lake Union, however.
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