University District

The University of Washington was founded in 1861 on a plot of land near today’s Paramount Theater in Downtown Seattle. In 1895 it moved to its current location adjacent to Union Bay. Today the only remnants of the University’s brief downtown stay are four pillars standing near the Paramount, the original University Book Store at 4th and Seneca and the busy downtown street named University.

Many of Seattle’s early settlers graduated from the school and believed it was the most important asset to Seattle, even more so than the state capitol. “Capitol Hill” was the original spot for Washington’s state capitol, but prominent Seattle residents pushed to have the University instead, sending the capitol to Olympia.

The beautiful University campus overflows with cherry tree blossoms in spring and offers a great view of Mt Rainier as a backdrop to Guggenheim Fountain. The main drag near the school is University Way, known as “The Ave.” It is lined with coffee houses, trendy stores, ethnic restaurants and movie theaters. Down the hill from the school campus is the upscale University Village shopping center. The Burke-Gilman hiking trail crosses through this neighborhood and connects with Wallingford to the west.

Traffic can be slow along 45th St, where the Safeco Insurance building is located, and along Montlake Blvd, especially when Husky Football games draw thousands of spectators to cheer on the local team. Street parking is very difficult to find during the day when commuting students and faculty fill spots.

The “U District” consists mainly of students and faculty members attending the university, but also a mix of young professionals and artists call the University District home. The vast majority of residents rent, although a few families own homes further north.

Fun Stuff
In May, the U District thrives during the opening of boating season. On opening day, locals gather at “The Cut” between Lake Washington and Union Bay to watch the crew races and view the festive boats that participate in this event. During summer the University District Street Fair takes over a few blocks near the campus for a weekend and festivities go on throughout the day. When football season arrives in the fall, the Washington Huskies become the main focus for many in the area.

Average Rent: $$

Primary Housing:

Small Apartment Buildings

Medium Apartment Buildings

Rooms for Rent


Commute Times:

Downtown 10-15 minutes

Eastside 20 minutes, 40 minutes with traffic

Rental housing in the University District is focused on meeting the needs of the students at the University of Washington and those employed at and around the University. Sporadic development of new medium-sized apartment complexes continues, but the development of rental housing in this area primarily occurred between the 1940s-1970s.

You will find a large concentration of small- to medium-sized apartment buildings developed with mid-century styling. Many of the large homes developed between the early 1900s through the 1940s have been converted into housing to accommodate those looking for rooms for rent and often contain rental rooms that share a common bathroom. This offers an affordable housing option for students with restricted budgets and that are looking for leasing that offers greater flexibility with the duration of their lease.