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Curbed Cup Elite Eight: (4) First Hill vs. (5) Capitol Hill

Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Courtesy of the First Hill Improvement Association

First Hill

This round, we’re seeing two very similar neighborhoods pitted against each other: Capitol Hill and First Hill. Both are dense, walkable neighborhoods adjacent to downtown with fantastic transit access, making them extremely popular. But each has its own thing going on.

First Hill residents nominating the neighborhood lauded its combination of the best of Seattle: Old buildings and high-rises mingle together, combined with what one resident called a “spectacular” tree canopy.

It’s Seattle’s main hospital district, full of medical facilities and senior housing. That may have defined the neighborhood for a while, but it’s grown into something bigger in recent years.

This is First Hill’s first time making it to the Elite Eight—but with the big year it has had, it’s no wonder it scored more nominations in the Curbed Seattle inbox than any other neighborhood. One First Hill enthusiast listed off a few, including the freeway underpass column painting, the $82 million benefit package deal reached with the developers of the Convention Center expansion, an affordable housing project planned for the site where its light rail station was originally supposed to go, and a new low-barrier, 24-hour shelter in the First Presbyterian Church by Town Hall.

That reader brought up another popular feature popular among urbanists: “It is also the one neighborhood that is all multi-family housing, except for one single-family home.”

Separated from Capitol Hill by a slight rise in elevation, First Hill can be less rowdy than Capitol Hill—a feature some of the residents enjoy—while maintaining its own nightlife, from divey Quarter Lounge to the upscale Sorrento Hotel to the dark and art-filled Hideout.

Capitol Hill


Its opponent, while filled with massive single-family houses on the north end, is still one of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods—full of not just apartments and businesses, but micro-neighborhoods that locals know well.

While the area as a whole has its own identity, different spots on Capitol Hill are going to feel like different neighborhoods. Fifteenth Avenue has a smaller-town feeling, with a shorter downtown area of its own surrounded by older brick apartments. The nightlife corridor at Pike and Pine has been dominated by growth while still maintaining some classic spots.

One of the more neighborhoody sections of the city is Summit Slope—nominated as a standalone neighborhood by one resident. “One of the most dense census tracts in Washington, the area west of Broadway, north of Olive Way, East of I-5, and south of [East] Roy [and] Belmont presents a unique identity of urban living, featuring some of the most iconic apartment buildings in Seattle... and some of the best coffee in town,” wrote Urbanist senior editor Ryan Packer.

Like First Hill, Capitol Hill has been incredibly civically involved. The Capitol Hill Community Council, for example, had a large role in the creation of the Renters Commission this year.

The advantage Capitol Hill has over First Hill: The neighborhood is the reason many are moving to its opponent in the first place. Apartment and real estate listings in First Hill will still bill “Capitol Hill,” despite both neighborhoods having their own merits and vibe. Still, some move to First Hill to have a place to go home to away from its neighbors’ perceived rowdiness.

Which neighborhood should advance this week? This poll closes Thursday, December 21, at 12:15 p.m., so get those votes in. (Not seeing the poll? Try exiting Apple News or Google Amp.)