Downtown Seattle includes the areas around Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the Waterfront. It is bordered by another popular area, Belltown, to the north. Seattle was developed after it was selected as the area’s new harbor in 1852. Dr. David “Doc” Maynard was an early settler who opened the city’s first store and hospital. Maynard’s friend, Chief Sealth, was a Salish Indian after whom Seattle would derive its name. Maynard chose the name “Seattle” as an easier-to-pronounce alternate to the chief’s name. Local farmers established the Pike Place Market in 1907, which is now one of downtown’s most visited landmarks.
The International District and the Central District of Seattle are two of the city’s oldest surviving residential areas and are full of historic buildings and landmarks. Over a century old, immigrants from all over the world made their home in these neighborhoods. The vibrant mix of European, African and Asian settlers left an incredibly rich abundance of small businesses and restaurants that derive their influences from the owners’ homelands.
The areas around Pike Place Market are popular with tourists as well as locals. Housing here can be very pricey, as many of the luxury condominium buildings and apartment high-rises claim some of the best views of Elliott Bay. Parking is an issue in downtown, and buildings charge a premium for a reserved space. Coffee shops and souvenir stores crowd First and Second Avenues, along with the Seattle Art Museum. Nordstrom, Macy’s, and other high-end retailers crowd the intersection of 4th and Pike. If you don’t want to search for a spot, try parking at Seattle Center in Queen Anne and riding the Monorail to Westlake Center.
Pioneer Square and the International District have unique, vibrant atmospheres that accompany their rich histories. Many of Seattle’s oldest buildings are located in Pioneer Square and are home to the numerous cafes, galleries and nightclubs that dot the streets. The International District has some of the best restaurants and locally-owned shops in Seattle. Seattle’s stadiums for the Mariners and Seahawks lie just at the south end of these neighborhoods. Pioneer Square is the most busy, bustling part of the city and it can be too noisy for some. The International District, in contrast, offers a quieter spot with similar amenities and locale. In 2001, Seattle was shaken by the Nisqually earthquake, which caused extensive damage to the historic brick facades and buildings in this area.
Residents in the downtown area average between 25-45 years of age. Most are successful professionals, but some areas are mixed with low-income and homeless.
Pioneer Square and downtown galleries stay open late on the first Thursday of each month. Artists with their works spread out on sidewalks and musicians and street performers entertain while you shop. Watch the famous “fish throwing” at Pike Place Market, and pick up some fresh produce or flowers. The original Starbucks coffee house is located in Pike Place Market, and sells souvenir mugs available only at that location. Take in an IMAX movie about Mt. St. Helen’s eruption on Pier 59 and stop by the Seattle Aquarium to see the giant octopus. Feed the seagulls at Ivar’s on Pier 54 (and enjoy some of their famous clam chowder). For a bizarre outing, visit “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe”. Enjoy a concert at “Summer Nights at South Lake Union Park” which recently switched from “Summer Nights at the Pier” (structural maintenance work was required at Pier 62/63, the popular, former venue). The famous Edgewater Hotel on Pier 67 and the former MTV Real World location on Pier 70 are other interesting sites. Enjoy the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59 or a ferry ride to one of the nearby islands. You may want to avoid the terminal during rush hour, where island residents pack the ferries on their commute home. Visit the International District’s Uwajimaya Village which offers great dining and shopping, or take a tour of the stadiums before you catch a game. View the amazing art at Wing Luke Asian Museum or visit the Nippon Kan Theater to watch movies, concerts, variety shows and more.
Average Rent: $$$$$
Medium Apartment Buildings
Eastside 20 minutes, 35-40 minutes with traffic
At the heart of Seattle, the Downtown neighborhood offers an exciting lifestyle and the ability to experience the best of Seattle's urban living up close. For those looking for high-rise condominium and apartment living, Downtown and Belltown are neighborhoods to look in to. In recent years, there has been extensive development in the core of Downtown. There have been numerous high-rise apartment buildings and new luxury condominiums developed. Privately-owned condominiums are regularly available for rent in many of these properties. With its urban setting, numerous amenities and the view many of these units have, the rental units in these buildings reach the highest pricing tier in our city. Parking is at a premium but is usually available. When renting a Downtown apartment, parking spaces are generally rented separate of the unit and additional spots are often available if you are looking to have more than one reserved spot. Owners of condominiums typically have one reserved spot that comes with the unit and in some cases can offer more than one parking spot. If amenities such as gyms, access to conference rooms and concierge services are important features for your living experience, then Downtown or neighboring Belltown are the places to find these amenities. Small apartment complexes and single-family homes are nearly non-existent in the downtown sector.