Featured Community: Capitol Hill

Old Seattle charm, thriving urban center. Historians say realtor and land speculator James A. Moore, who was credited with the platting of the Capitol Hill, named it after a similarly named site in Denver. But others say the name stuck after a real estate firm offered space on the hill as part of a proposal to place the area’s capital in Seattle. Whichever the case, by 1908 Capitol Hill and adjacent First Hill had become Seattle’s most fashionable districts. Wealthy bankers, shipping executives and other newly rich called it home. Today the neighborhood is a thriving urban center, and Broadway — the neighborhood’s main drag — serves as its focal point. Broadway is best known for its assortment of radical shops and tattoo parlors. The street has been featured in Hollywood’s “Singles,” where angst-ridden twentysomethings fall in — and out — of movie love, and rap artist Sir Mix-A-Lot immortalized its nightlife in his song about a “posse on Broadway.”

Capitol Hill is a unique counter-culture area. Music and art are prominent cornerstones of the community, with clubs, theatres, restaurants, bookstores and galleries found all throughout the neighborhood.  Internationally renowned Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) schedules showing at the Harvard Exit and Egyptian Theatre on Capitol Hill. Public art displays are also found throughout the neighborhood– a couple of community favorites include the bronze dance steps set into the sidewalk and the Jimi Hendrix statue. Martial arts star Bruce Lee, and his son Brandon Lee, are buried in the Lake View Cemetery north of Volunteer Park, which is a draw to their fans. Starbucks uses this hip, vibrant neighborhood as one of their test markets for new products and café décor.

By Joe Mabel (Photo by Joe Mabel) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Joe Mabel, via Wikimedia Commons
The home styles within the Capitol Hill neighborhood are about as diverse as the residents, although there has been a trend in tearing down old homes to make way for condos. This trend has been quite unfortunate, due to how rich Capitol Hill is with architecturally significant buildings and homes.  You’ll find mansions with Victorian and Craftsman accents. There are Fredrick Anhalt designed apartments, with Tudor influences and central courtyards. The Seattle Box style home can also be found throughout the neighborhood. The two blocks on 14th Avenue E, toward the south entrance of Volunteer Park, is dubbed Millionaire’s Row—this little area contains fairly intact groupings of early 20th Century Seattle homes, many with lovely vistas.  The well-preserved Harvard-Belmont Landmark District is located on the west slope of Capital Hill, and is also mainly residential in nature. The early 1900 homes in built Harvard-Belmont Landmark District housed Seattle’s leading financiers, industrialists, merchants, and businessmen. Back in 1980, Harvard-Belmont residents initiated and received the designation as a preservation district.

Volunteer Park_park and town hall docDuring the academic year, Capitol Hill is filled with backpacking students who go to one of the nearby major institutions of higher learning — Seattle Central Community College and the nationally acclaimed Cornish College of the Arts. Seattle University is on First Hill, but many of its students, faculty and staff work and play on Capitol Hill. The neighborhood (map) is bounded by Fuhrman Avenue East on the north, Interstate 5 on the west, East Pike Street on the south and 24th Avenue East. Seattle School District serves the needs of its younger residents.

The Capitol Hill section of the Seattle Light Rail system is slated to open during 2016. The underground station will be located between Broadway and East John Street, beneath Nagle Place. It’s projected that once in service, this station will see 14,000 boarding each day. It’s conveniently will be located to serve Seattle Central Community College students, Group Health Medical Center employees and patients, along with other Capitol Hill area employers.