South Lake Union
SLU is one of the fastest-growing areas of the city—but it’s been transforming that rapid growth into a very deliberate neighborhood. The Saturday Market, seasonal little sibling to Fremont and Ballard’s Sunday markets, is becoming a popular weekend destination. The South Lake Union Discovery Center hosts everything from pickup games to outdoor movies.
Of course, the area existed before Amazon. The Cascade neighborhood was a traditionally blue-collar community, and the rapid change in the 2000s, as tech companies and eventually Amazon moved in, was one of the most dramatic neighborhood overhauls.
Now, it’s a blue-badge community. But some neighborhood classics still remain, like the Center for Wooden Boats. The Museum of History and Industry hasn’t always been on the Lake Union waterfront, but the longtime museum set up shop in a historic navy building.
Along the southeast corner of Lake Union, yachty Chandler’s Cove has somehow endured through South Lake Union’s changes since the mid-1980s (although it’s about to get an overhaul), and houses longtime nautical businesses like Chandler’s Cove and Duke’s, plus a newer second location for El Chupacabra.
Still, it’s the newer stuff that really stands out about SLU.
“South Lake Union is growing constantly and bringing new and exciting things to Seattle,” said Natalie Dewey-Smith, marketing and engagement manager at the SLU Chamber, writing in with her nomination. “With Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch, Amazon, Facebook, Vulcan, Juno Therapeutics, and so many more—South Lake Union is becoming the neighborhood of the future.”
Neighborhood of the future, indeed: This is, for better or for worse, where Amazon tries out most of its new stuff, like its Amazon Go store.
And because SLU is basically getting revamped from the ground up, the neighborhood can make a lot of specific decisions about its fabric. Packs of new office towers are full of public open spaces, like the plaza with the banana stand. Developers are also starting to embrace adaptive reuse of the neighborhood’s oldest buildings, too, like the Troy Block.
It’s become a neighborhood that epitomizes New Seattle: a dense, high-tech, urban area that’s still surrounded by Seattle’s natural features.
The neighborhood has grown in mainstream popularity recently with the opening of the Link light rail station in 2009. But its history goes much deeper.
The station exits to Plaza Roberta Maestas, which, while new, is a nod to Beacon Hill’s history of activism and social-justice work. El Centro de la Raza was founded in the early 1970s, when “activists connected with Seattle’s Latino community” peacefully occupied an old Beacon Hill school. The city eventually leased the property to them for a dollar a year, and since then, they’ve been a resource for the city’s Latinx community and beyond.
The 13,000-square-foot plaza, named for El Centro’s co-founder, is open to the public, and is surrounded by murals, food carts, and an affordable, transit-oriented development. It’s also the frequent site of community gatherings—and it’s one of the ways Beacon Hill’s community is harnessing the growth to serve the neighborhood.
Also by the station is the appropriately named The Station coffee shop—and not too far away, The Station Wine Bar—which both seek to celebrate the neighborhood’s diversity.
Other Beacon Hill highlights: McPherson’s is one of the best places to buy produce in Seattle. The Beacon Food Forest hopes to “grow an edible forest garden.” Dr. Jose Rizal Park provides green space alongside stunning city views. The Pacific Tower is one of the city’s most iconic Art Deco marvels. It’s full of incredible Mexican food, including El Quetzal and Carnitas Michoacan.
Which neighborhood should advance this week? This poll closes Friday, December 14, at 1 p.m., so get those votes in. (Not seeing the poll? Try exiting Apple News or Google Amp.)