Seattle/Capitol Hill-Central District

Capitol Hill is Seattle‘s most densely populated neighborhood and the heart of the city’s counterculture. Lying directly east of the downtown retail core, Capitol Hill is unofficially bounded to the east by 23rd Ave, to the west by Interstate 5, to the south by E Union St, and to the north by E Interlaken Blvd. Included here is the neighboring district of First Hill, immediately to the south adjacent to Downtown.

The Central District is located southeast of the downtown area of Seattle and is bordered by the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. It’s the traditional center of Seattle’s African-American population, though recently it has attracted young first-time homeowners from throughout the city because of the undervalued property, creating a boom in new home construction and new business. Nonetheless, it is still the center of Black culture in Seattle and has the highest concentration of black residents in the Pacific Northwest, with African-Americans making up 51% of the population. It also has a significant Ethiopian population, whose restaurants and shops lend the area an interesting character.

Also included here are the chain of small, residential neighborhoods to the east, running along the shore of Lake Washington. From north to south, they are: Montlake, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Madrona, and Leschi. Continuing south past Interstate 90 (partially hidden in a tunnel) leads into South Seattle‘s Beacon Hill and Mt. Baker neighborhoods.

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Map of Seattle/Capitol Hill-Central District

Capitol Hill is the most densely populated neighborhood in the city. Historically, the hill was where you would find the homes of the merchants who made their wealth from Seattle’s early growth, living in grand houses that overlooked the working-class homes of the valleys below. In the 1960s, much of the neighborhood was up-zoned for apartments built to house the influx of visitors expected for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and many of these mid-century modern apartment buildings survive to this day.

Through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s the hill became more bohemian and the center of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, sprucing up the old mansions and creating a vibrant arts and music scene. Capitol Hill has also has been the center of Seattle’s counterculture community for decades, serving as one of the birthplaces of the country’s grunge movement in the 1980s and 90s, with Kurt Cobain and other famous grunge musicians frequenting Capitol Hill establishments. Today, Capitol Hill is still the center of Seattle’s independent music community.

Given its proximity to the downtown offices of many major tech companies, Capitol Hill has become a playground for tech industry people with numerous restaurants, bars and music venues. Famous residents include Ben Haggerty (better known as the pop music artist Macklemore), Jerrick Hoffer (better known as comedy drag queen Jinkx Monsoon), Benjamin Putnam (better known as drag queen BenDeLaCreme) and Dan Savage, an American gay and alternative sex advice columnist who well-represents Capitol Hill’s population of hipsters and homosexuals.

Popular retail districts within Capitol Hill include Broadway, the Pike/Pine corridor, and 15th Avenue E. There are a variety of restaurants, bars, music venues, clubs, boutiques, and other shops here, while the surrounding blocks are filled with condominium and apartment buildings and cafes. There are many grand old homes in “mansionland” to the north, near Volunteer Park. Capitol Hill residents are generally some of the most politically progressive in the country, exemplified by the fact that many of the 1999 WTO protests spilled from Downtown into Capitol Hill, which has had an impact on the mindset of the community.

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