Seattle Neighborhood Spotlight: Columbia City

by Washington Federal Team on October 27, 2011

Take a moment to wander the streets in Columbia City, and you’ll notice one thing. These people love their explorers.  In a community named for Christopher Columbus, you’ll find streets dedicated to Henry Hudson, Ferdinand Magellan and Amerigo Vespucci. And that same adventurous, ever-changing spirit defines this diverse neighborhood of Seattle.

Moving and Shaking

Columbia City’s history has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, marked by rapid growth in the early 1900s as Seattle experienced a boom during the Klondike Gold Rush.  Columbia City, annexed by Seattle in 1907, helped fuel Seattle’s boom with strong logging and railroad industries.  During the Great Depression, the area’s business district began suffering a long decline. In the 1970s, efforts were made to recognize the neighborhood’s historic character, and Columbia City traded its industrial feel for a new, trendy vibe.  The character and vitality of Columbia City has been reestablished, and it is now one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the city. Seattle’s new Light Rail service runs through the neighborhood, making it a hub for travelers and natives and providing easy access to downtown.

Farmers Market

Since 1998, the Columbia City Farmers Market has been a defining institution for the neighborhood. The Farmers Market is open once a week from May through October and boasts a wide selection of locally grown produce and prepared foods. There are often cooking demos and even a vegetable vehicle race for kids.

Triple Threat

Columbia City’s triple threat involves art, music and food – a guaranteed hit. Columbia City has an annual BeatWalk and ArtWalk. Art and music are on display from May to September. These two events are unique to Columbia City and add to the rich, community feel of the area. As you stroll down Rainier Avenue, you’ll see that Columbia City has defined itself as a foodie’s paradise. On this one street, you can travel the world’s cuisines from Italian restaurants to Southern barbecue to Caribbean-style dishes. And don’t forget the wine bars and bakeries.

History in the Making

Many of the housing options in Columbia City – whether apartment or homes – were built around the turn of the 20th century. This historic element adds character and nostalgia to the neighborhood.

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