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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (3) Ballard vs. (14) International District

Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!



2012 Curbed Cup winner Ballard is a perennial favorite, making it to the finals just last year. It’s also one of the region’s most rapidly-changing neighborhoods, going from a Nordic fishing neighborhood to a bustling metropolis in very recent years.

As Ballard grows and it gains more and more little bars and boutiques, so does its popularity grow.

“Ballard continues to add to their list of award-winning restaurants,” said Anndrea Dunning, marketing and membership manager at Ballard Alliance, writing in to nominate the neighborhood. Dunning notes that Ballard Seattle's most recently-designated business improvement district.

“What makes Ballard so great is not what is happening today but that its rich history is still alive and well,” Dunning continued. “Ballard remains culturally rich with its hardworking Nordic roots. Small businesses rule in Ballard and we have a close-knit community of business owners and entrepreneurs. It truly is a small town.”

Like other neighborhoods in the competition—looking at you, Capitol Hill and West Seattle—Ballard is full of little sub-neighborhoods. Resident Sue Pierce wrote in to nominate one of them: West Woodland.

“I love Ballard's West Woodland neighborhood because the community feels like a small town within a larger city,” explained Pierce. “Neighbors have access to all the cultural and employment opportunities the City of Seattle offers, as well as a variety of housing choices and transit opportunities. With backyard cottages [and] mid-century duplexes and triplexes nestled among [single-family] homes, neighbors know they can age in place here, and kids can return from college and still find reasonable rentals. We are a model for what open zoning can achieve!”

To some of us, though, it’ll always be the Ballard of the Ballard Driving Academy.

Between Ballard’s loyal longtime residents and new enthusiasts—and impressive Curbed Cup record—the future for them seems bright in this competition.

Chinatown-International District


One of Seattle’s oldest and densest neighborhoods, the International District—and within it, Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon—has some of the richest history and one of the strongest small business communities in Seattle.

It’s the home of the flagship Uwajimaya store, a massive supermarket and food court with an emphasis on Asian food. It’s filled with parks like Hing Hay Park and Kobe Terrace. And it’s one of the most transit-accessible neighborhoods in the entire city, served by light rail, heavy rail, tunnel buses, surface buses, and a streetcar.

Sing the night away at Bush Garden or Venus. Grab some dim sum at House of Hong, Dim Sum King, or Jade Garden—or banh mi at Saigon Deli or Thanh Son Tofu. Practice your pinball at the Pinball Museum, a blank-storefront activation project that was eventually made permanent. Buy some gifts and goodies at Kobo or Modern Trading Company. Drop in for a Lunar New Year celebration, Dragon Fest, or the Night Market and Autumn Moon Festival.

It’s also a neighborhood with a deep history of activism and community-building, from early-20th-century union organizing to ongoing fights against displacement.

Smithsonian-affiliated Wing Luke Museum highlights the life experiences of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States, the only community museum in the country to do so. Appropriately, that’s located in the East Kong Yick building, built with the shared resources of 170 Chinese pioneers in 1910. The Panama Hotel, built in 1910 is an early example of Japanese-designed architecture in the city.

It’s no surprise that it contains one of Seattle’s eight historic districts. But it’s a major surprise that the neighborhood hasn’t appeared in a Curbed Cup since 2013—also competing against Ballard.

Which neighborhood should advance this week? This poll closes Thursday, December 14 at 3:30 p.m., so get those votes in. (Not seeing the poll? Try exiting Apple News or Google Amp.)