Tag Archive for 'neighborhood'

Neighborhood street project fund recipients announced

The city has announced which neighborhood projects would receive funding in the upcoming year. From the city’s press release:

Mayor Mike McGinn today announced 11 projects that will be constructed through the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Project program. Utilizing funds from the voter-approved Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, the city will invest $4.7 million over the next three years in these new projects.

“The Neighborhood Street Fund is a great way for neighborhood leaders to identify and fund small projects that can make a big difference locally,” said McGinn. “Every neighborhood plan identifies safe and walkable streets as a high priority – this fund supports that priority.”

Here is the list of projects:

(Hat tip Seattle Transit Blog)


Walk Score – Seattle

Most pedestrians out there are well familiar with Walk Score, the Seattle-based online walkability calculator. For those of you who aren’t, Walk Score calculates the walkability of an area based on its proximity to services (shopping, grocery, entertainment, etc). It doesn’t determine walkability in terms of pedestrian amenities (e.g. sidewalks and signaling), but is a good gauge for how easy it is to get around an area by foot.

Since the data relies on Google Maps, it’s changing all the time, so even if you’ve done it before, go ahead and check out the Walk Score of your home again. It seems that ours has gone up a few points since I last checked.

For a broader look at walkability within Seattle, Walk Score has determined the Walk Score for every neighborhood in Seattle. Seattle rates as the 6th most Walkable city in the county. Walk Score counts 77 different neighborhoods in Seattle, ranging from the most walkable (Pioneer Square – score of 99 out of 100) to least walkable (Blue Ridge – score of 32 out of 100).

Some neighborhoods have very walkable centers but include a lot of land that isn’t close to those centers (see Capitol Hill). That said, you can look at the map of Seattle walkability to see patterns of the most walkable areas. Of course, downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods incorporate the largest, most walkable area of the city. There are also scattered islands of walkability that correspond to various neighborhoods (e.g. Columbia City, Georgetown).

One way that Walk Score can be especially helpful is when looking for a place to live – to help you determine how easy it will be to walk to the places you want to go. You could even use it look for jobs – walkable areas are usually full of places that employ people and usually make for a wide array of lunch options.

It’s wonderful to live in an age where information like this is available to people who can use it to make decisions, and it’s great to live in a walkable city.


Walking Downtown Fremont

Enjoy the quirky local landmarks along this stimulating urban walk.

View Walking Downtown Fremont in a larger map

Start at N 34th St and Fremont Ave just on the north side of the Fremont Bridge. The area is well served by several bus routes, including the 26, 28, 30, 31, 17, and 46 (weekdays only). If you’re driving, there is some garage and street parking in the area – click for driving directions.

We start by Waiting for the Interurban, a piece of public art that’s always changing based on the clothes that residents put on it. This aluminum sculpture was created in 1979 and is named after the Seattle-Everett Interurban railway that ran along Fremont Ave. The sculpture is on a large concrete median that separates the eastbound bicycle lane and westbound car traffic from eastbound car traffic coming from Fremont Ave N.

Walk south along Fremont Ave N toward the Fremont Bridge. The Fremont Bridge opened in 1917, the same year as the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge does not open for boat traffic during rush hour, but otherwise is raised 35 times per day on average. The blue and orange colors for the bridge were chosen as a result of a poll taken in 1985. Continue across the bridge and enjoy the view to the left toward Lake Union and the George Washington bridge.

Once you reach the intersection, notice the 1930s transit stop at the SE corner of the intersection at Westlake Ave and Dexter. Cross Fremont Ave N (you’ll have to cross two separate roadways).

Head back north along the west side of Fremont Ave N. From this side of the bridge, you can look west along the tree-lined ship canal. There are trails for walking and biking on both sides. After crossing the canal, look for the stairs on your left that will take you down to the popular Burke-Gilman Trail.

Burke-Gilman Trail

Head west along the trail and be careful to keep to the right so that bikers can pass. While you could take this trail all the way to the Ballard Locks, stay on it for only two blocks before turning right on Phinney Ave N. The cross streets aren’t easy to identify from the trail, so just pay attention to the parking lot that the trail goes beside – the parking lot will curve toward Phinney Ave, which is where you want to turn.

At the intersection with N 35th St is the Theo Chocolate factory, which is the “only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States.” The factory offers public tours 7 days a week.

On the opposite side of Phinney Ave is a large wall painted with the likeness of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, stars of the classic film Casablanca.
This is the Fremont Outdoor Cinema, which shows outdoor film screenings in summer.

Continue for another block and turn right at N 36th St. This is a busy arterial street, but has street parking and buildings along the sidewalk that make this a comfortable place to walk. It’s also a long block, so there won’t be any motor vehicles crossing your path for a little while. The houses to your right were built in the early 1900s and have been converted to commercial use. You’ll pass the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, whose office was built in 1901. Many of the more industrial looking buildings were built in the 1920s. Continue walking on this side of the street – you’ll see some coffee shops and places to eat on the opposite side of the street as well.

At the next intersection you’ll see the Statue of Lenin. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, this statue was almost melted for its bronze. However, a resident from the Seattle area who was teaching English nearby managed to have it shipped back to the US. The statue is for sale, but has been displayed in Fremont since 1995 and has become a local landmark.

Statue of Lenin

Communist Vladimir Lenin towers over this intersection in Fremont

Continue along the main road, which changes names to Fremont Pl N. There are many places to eat around here. You’ll see the Fremont directional sign to your left as you cross 35th St.

Directional sign


Continue on to 34th St. Turn left and cross Fremont Ave N along 34th St. Then reverse direction and head north along Fremont Ave N.

There are more places to eat and shop as you head up the hill. At N 36th St, turn right. This section of Fremont is mostly residential, though you’ll pass Fremont Baptist Church, which was built in 1924. Troll Ave N is at the next block, and to your left is the famous Fremont Troll, which was built in 1990 to help clean up the area under the bridge, as it had become used for illicit activities.

Turn right and head downhill along Troll Ave N, which runs under the Aurora Bridge. Cross N 35th St when you can and turn right toward the west. On your left will be the Fremont Public Library, which was one of several Carnegie Libraries in Seattle and opened in 1921. Just past the library is A. B. Ernst Park, which opened in 2004. Go through the park and stroll back down to N 34th St.

At 34th St, just across the street is the J.P. Patches statue, dedicated to popular local clown J. P. Patches. Turn right at N 34th St to head back to our starting point at Fremont Ave N. Or, if you’d prefer, from here you can start our Fremont Walk along the Burke Gilman Trail.

highlights: quirky local landmarks; places to stop to eat, drink, and shop; historic architecture; Burke-Gilman Trail; public art; not many interactions with vehicles; vibrant urban environment

lowlights: sidewalk can get crowded; some backtracking; crossing busy street along Troll Ave N


Walking Phinney Ridge

This neighborhood near Woodland Park Zoo is a pleasant neighborhood that’s worth a stroll through.

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Start near the zoo along Phinney Ave N. The 5 bus will take you right there. There is also street parking in the area, click for driving directions.

Head north along Phinney Ave. The zoo entrance is on your right, and there is also a large water tower. Soon, you’ll walk along a short bridge over 57th St.

This area was served by a streetcar starting in 1906. The street is lined with historic apartment buildings, stores, churches, and houses.

Home along Phinney Ave N

Home along Phinney Ave N

Despite a being such a narrow street, 65th St is an east-west arterial, which you’ll cross over shortly.

Shortly after that you’ll reach the Phinney Neighborhood Center, which is housed in the original Allen School building. The Center hosts various community events, including art exhibits and classes.

Follow the road as it veers left and aligns with Greenwood Ave N. You’ll pass by the original location of Red Mill Burgers, one of the more popular burger joints in town.

On the left, you’ll pass Espresso Dental – a uniquely Seattle kind of a place.

Continue walking for several more blocks. At 80th St, turn right and continue for another block to turn right on Dayton Ave N.

This section of the walk is residential with occasional views to the east toward Green Lake. Watch carefully for cross traffic as the hills can make these intersections dangerous.

Green Lake from Dayton Ave

Green Lake from Dayton Ave, watch out for traffic

Be especially careful crossing 65th St. Pedestrians do have the right of way here. Go left along 65th for half a block, before turning right back along Dayton Ave N. After a block along Dayton Ave N, turn right on 64th and left again to stay along Dayton Ave N.

Enjoy the landscaped houses that you walk past and continue to N 59th St and turn right. Then, turn left on Phinney Ave N and return to your starting location.

highlights: places to eat and shop along Phinney Ave, peaceful neighborhood, nicely landscaped homes

lowlights: many intersections to cross


Walking through Eastlake

Eastlake is a relatively quiet and historic neighborhood on the east side of Lake Union that is nice to stroll through.

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Start at the south end of the University Street bridge. You can find street parking nearby, or arrive here by the 70, 66, 71 (local), 72 (local), or 73 (local) bus.

At the east corner of Eastlake Ave E and Fuhrman Ave E is the location of the original Red Robin restaurant (now closed). At the south corner is the Martello, Eastlake’s most architecturally significant building in Norman French style. It was was built in 1916 as a private residence and converted to a furniture store in 1920. It currently houses Romio’s Pizza and Pasta as well as condominiums.

Head south along Eastlake Ave E on the west side of the street toward the I-5 bridge. Several condominiums have been built along Eastlake Ave on the north and south ends of Eastlake.

Harvard Ave splits off from Eastlake Ave to the left and heads toward Capitol Hill. Keep walking and you’ll pass Lake Union Cafe and a Psychic Palmist.

After crossing E Allison St and passing the Eastlake Bar and Grill, you’ll approach a wooded area on the right. This is the upper part of Fairview Park. Feel free to take a seat at one of the benches, though the trees obscure the view somewhat.

Head down the stairs toward the lake. If you desire an easier walk, feel free to continue along Eastlake. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the stairs, turn left to take the sidewalk along Fairview Ave. You’ll pass by the Eastlake P-Patch and then the sidewalk will end. Cross Fairview Ave where the sidewalk continues along the water.

At E Hamlin St, turn left up the hill back to E Eastlake Ave. Turn right at E Eastlake Ave and continue toward the heart of Eastlake. At E Roanoke St, you’ll see Rogers Playground, which was named after a former governor in time for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exhibition. You’ll soon pass a few restaurants and other local establishments.

You can turn around wherever you wish, but our route will end at Garfield St where you can cross and walk back along the other side of Eastlake Ave.

highlights: street-level retail, lake view, historic architecture, quiet, few traffic signals to wait for

lowlights: steep hill to the lake shore, not as many places to eat or things to do as other neighborhoods


Walking Madison Park

Madison Park on the shore of Lake Washington is a peaceful place to walk with a small village of shops and restaurants.

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Madison Park used to be a popular destination for Seattlites in the early 20th century. A cable car ran from downtown to the lake. Until 1950, there was a ferry that took passengers across the lake to Kirkland.

Start at E Madison St and E McGilvra St. There is street parking in the area, or you can get here by the 11 bus.

Head northeast on Madison St along the southeast side of the street, passing retail establishments on both sides of the street. At E Blaine St, turn right. You’ll pass by the tennis courts of Madison Park on your left before reaching 43rd Ave E.

Cross 43rd Ave E before turning left. On your right is the Madison Park beach. Feel free to stop at a bench or walk down to the water for a view across lake Washington toward the Cascade Mountains and Bellevue.

Then, continue north along 43rd Ave E until you reach E Madison St. This intersection is a little unclear for pedestrians, but traffic should be light. Cross over to the northwest side of E Madison St when you can and head southwest along E Madison St.

Feel free to stop and enjoy a meal or drink at one of the restaurants you walk by. Otherwise, continue through this main part of Madison Park back to our starting point at McGilvra Blvd E.

Our short walk ends at McGilvra Blvd E & E Madison St, but feel free to explore the nearby upscale residential area or head back to the park and the water before heading home.

highlights: view across Lake Washington, quiet tree-lined streets, restaurants, park

lowlights: may be a little too upscale for some, park is a little small, can become crowded on a summer weekend day


Walking NW Market St in Ballard

NW Market St passes through the heart of Ballard and is an enjoyable street for a stroll on your way to the popular Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

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Start at 17th Ave NW and NW Market St. There are several buses that serve Ballard, and the 44 and 46 take you right to our starting point. There is street parking in the area, and you can click here for driving directions.

Head west along NW Market St along the north side of the street. You’ll pass by several retail storefronts, including the Ballard Sip & Ship, which sells coffee and provides mail services.

Soon you’ll pass by the Ballard Carnegie Library, which opened in 1904 and operated as a library until 1963.

You’ll then pass by the Majestic Bay theatre which first opened in 1915 showing vaudeville stage shows and silent films and was converted to a three-screen theater in 2000.

After crossing 22nd Ave NW, you’ll walk by the old Ballard Building in the heart of Ballard.

At 24nd Ave NW, cross NW Market St and continue west.

After another couple blocks, the sidewalk will veer left along 54th St toward the locks. Pass the Lockspot Cafe and the red telephone booth and turn left toward the fence and entrance for the Hiram M Chittenden Locks.

As you walk along the main path toward the locks, there will be a garden on your right and a rather interesting museum & gift shop on your left. Keep going toward the locks and spend some time enjoying the grounds before heading back.

The return trip through Ballard will be the same, except for variation I’d suggest staying on the south side of Market St until you get to 22nd Ave NW, at which time I’d cross back over to the north side of Market St.

Ballard Building

Ballard Building on Market St

Our walk ends where it started, at 17th Ave NW and NW Market St.

highlights: historic buildings, street-level retail and dining, Locks, garden and museum on locks grounds, wide sidwalks through heart of Ballard, longer blocks allow for less interruption from cross traffic

lowlights: intersection of Market St, 22nd Ave, and Leary Way can take some time to cross; opposite side of Market St not as enjoyable to walk along in some places, narrow sidewalk in some areas


Walking The Ave

University Way, known as “The Ave” is a busy pedestrian street with many shops and many more restaurants. It’s a good walk if you want to take in an active streetscape and find somewhere new to eat along the way.

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The Ave was originally called Columbus Avenue and then 14th Avenue, before being changed to University Way in 1919. The street doesn’t have a lot of fast-moving traffic, being only two lanes, and the road is separated from the sidewalk by parking and bike racks, which helps the walking experience. The groups of students and panhandlers can slow you down sometimes, so be patient or go early in the day. The blocks are long but there are several mid-block crosswalks.

Start at University Way NE and NE 41st St. There are many buses that will get you there, or you can click here for directions (finding parking is another matter).

Head north, up the slight incline. We’ll start on the left side of the street and then turn around and walk back on the other side of the street.

The first part of the walk is a little quieter than the rest of the street. You’ll walk past a parking lot before passing the first of many places to eat.

As you approach NE 42nd St, you’ll begin to see more restaurants. You can find many different types of food to eat – including Indian, Mediterranean, and all types of Asian. Feel free to stop to eat anywhere that looks appealing and you’ll likely pay less than $10 for your meal. You’ll also pass coffee shops, bookstores, clothing stores, and various other retail establishments. There are also some establishments along some of the cross streets, like 42nd, 43rd, and especially 45th, so feel free to explore before continuing north on University Way.

Between 43rd and 45th Streets, you’ll pass the Varsity Theatre, which has been operating as a movie theater since 1940 and added two upstairs screens in 1985.

As you walk, look up at the streetlamps. There are ornaments provided for some of the local establishments (for example, a tub of popcorn for the Varsity Theatre).

Looking north along University Way NE

Looking north along University Way NE

Continue on to 50th St. If it’s a Saturday, feel free to continue to the University District Farmers Market. Otherwise, cross University Way and head south. Even though we’re backtracking, you’ll see a lot of new things that you didn’t see on the first leg of the walk.

On the way back, you’ll pass a few neat stores, including Gargoyles Statuary and Shiga’s Imports. We’ll end where we started, at NE 41st St and University Way NE.

highlights: many international and inexpensive places to eat, shopping, sidewalks are insulated from the road

lowlights: can be busy with college students and vagrants, sidewalks too narrow for the amount of pedestrian traffic, no open public spaces


Walking First Hill

The tree-lined streets of historic First Hill are great for a pleasant walk, though the steepness of the hill can make walking here a little more difficult for some.

View First Hill Walk in a larger map

Start at Boylston Ave and Madison St near Swedish Medical Center. You can find street parking on the weekend or get there by the #2 bus.

Proceed downhill on Madison. Feel free to grab a smoothie from Jamba Juice to have on your walk. Continue past Boren Ave and be sure that you’re on the south side of Madison Ave. At Terry Ave and Madison St you’ll see the historic Sorrento Hotel, which opened in 1909. Turn left on Terry Ave.

Sorrento Hotel on Madison St

Looking along Madison St at retail and Sorrento Hotel

Continue a few blocks. You’ll pass O’Dea High School and Frye Art Museum on your left. The Frye was established in 1952 and is a free-admission museum featuring painting and sculpture from the 19th century to present.

Turn right once you get to James St and continue on James for a block before turning right on 9th Ave.

After a few blocks, you’ll see St James Cathedral on your right. The cathedral was dedicated in 1907 with a domed roof, but in 1916 heavy snowfall caused the dome to collapse and it was not rebuilt.

Turn left on Marion St and head downhill for a block. Turn right at 8th Ave and walk past the M street grocery.

Cross Madison St and walk along shaded streets past a couple old apartment buildings. After crossing Spring St, you’ll see Town Hall Seattle, a community culture center, in the former Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist.

Turn right on Seneca St and walk a block uphill and turn left at 9th Ave. These buildings are part of the Virginia Mason Medical Center.

At the end of 9th Ave is an entrance to Freeway Park, which spans I-5. Feel free to stroll through the park or to continue along University Ave.

Cross Boren St and cross Minor Ave. Feel free to stop and rest at First Hill Park before going SE on Minor Ave. On your left is the Stimson-Green Mansion. This part of First Hill is pretty quiet and residential. Cross Spring St and continue on to Madison St. Turn left on Madison St and return to where we started.

highlights: shade, architecture, old buildings, history
lowlights: not a particularly engaging streetscape, some hospitals break up the streets and the feel of the neighborhood, can be steep in some parts


Walking through Belltown

Belltown is the densest part of the city outside of downtown and makes for a good place to walk. This route goes along the two most active streets in Belltown – 1st and 2nd Aves.

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Start at 1st and Virginia and head Northwest, parallel to Elliott Bay. This part of Belltown has the most shopping and, being close to downtown and Pike Place Market, is an easy starting point. Walking along either side of the street is fine, but the right side has several small parking lots that interrupt the streetscape.

The first parking lot you pass has a wall decorated with one of the larger graffiti-style urban art projects in Seattle (go here for pictures from the Hideous Belltown blog).

As you continue walking, you’ll see lots of historic low-rise buildings and will pass more retail, including an Army/Navy Surplus Store. At Battery St, you’ll pass over highway 99 and will have a view of Elliott Bay. On the other side of the street you’ll see some more old Belltown buildings, including the Austin A Bell bldg from 1890.

Historic buildings in Belltown

Old architecture from 1889-1890

Continue walking a few more blocks and turn right at Vine St. Vine St is a relatively narrow street lined with trees but without much for retail or dining. Vine isn’t a major street, so you won’t have a crosswalk or a traffic light when crossing Belltown’s Avenues, so be careful. Pedestrians can legally cross any intersection, but some drivers may not know that. Unless you’re doing this walk at a busy time of day, you should be able to cross easily during a break in vehicle traffic.

Turn left at 5th Ave and walk a block in parallel with the monorail. You’ll arrive at Tilikum Place, a shaded outdoor plaza with a fountain, surrounded by a few places to stop and eat.

Tilikum Place

The trees offer shade and there are benches to watch the fountain in the summer months

Feel free to stop and rest or continue and walk southwest along Cedar St. At 3rd Ave, you’ll see a large mural on your right on the building of New Horizons Ministries.

Mural at New Horizons Ministries

Colorful mural at 3rd and Cedar

Belltown has a diversity of architecture to enjoy. The buildings on the eastern side, away from the water, tend to be shorter and are less likely to be inhabited by any street-level retail or dining. As you continue towards the water, you’ll see more recent development and high-rise condo buildings. We’ll turn left at 2nd Ave toward downtown.

2nd Ave is a 3 lane street with relatively few traffic lights, so it does have some fast-moving vehicles. However, the parking and trees insulate help to insulate pedestrians from the street, and curb-bulbs at intersections make it feel a little safer to cross the avenue. As you continue southeast, you’ll encounter more bars and restaurants, especially once you get to Battery St.

Feel free to stop at any one of these restaurants or bars for something to eat and drink, or stop for a game of pinball at Shorty’s.

A few blocks more and we’ll end our walk at 2nd Ave & Virginia, just a block away from where we started.

Highlights: continguous urban streetscape, density, restaurants and bars, stop and rest at Tilikum Place, coffee shops, diverse architecture, wide sidewalks

Lowlights: a few parking lots, some dead spots without much to look at, can be rough at night, not much retail outside of 1st Ave, lack of designated crosswalks