Downtown Seattle

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Downtown Seattle, from the top of the Space Needle, circa 2005 (looking south). Beyond Downtown is the Industrial District.
Map of Downtown Seattle and other central neighborhoods
Timelapse video of downtown streets from atop a Community Transit double-decker bus

Downtown is the central business district of Seattle, Washington. It is fairly compact compared with other city centers on the West Coast of the United States because of its geographical situation. It is hemmed in on the north and east by hills, on the west by Elliott Bay, and on the south by reclaimed land that was once tidal flats. It is bounded on the north by Denny Way, beyond which are Lower Queen Anne (sometimes known as "Uptown"), Seattle Center, and South Lake Union; on the east by Broadway Avenue, beyond which is Capitol Hill to the northeast and the Central District to the east; on the south by Dearborn Avenue, beyond which is Sodo; and on the west by Elliott Bay, which is part of Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean). Belltown, Denny Triangle, the retail district, the West Edge, the financial district, the government district, Pioneer Square, Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and the western flank of First Hill west of Broadway consist of downtown Seattle's chief neighbourhoods. Near the center of downtown is the Metropolitan Tract, owned by the University of Washington, the location of the university's pre-1895 campus. Downtown is Seattle's finance hub, its commercial maritime hub, its centre of nightlife, and its centre of shopping. (The downtown shopping mall Westlake Center is connected to Seattle Center by way of a monorail). The area is also home to the landmark Pike Place Market, the oldest continually-operating farmer's market in the United States and the core of activity in the area.

Downtown Seattle's Columbia Center has a greater number of floors than any other building west of the Mississippi River, at 76, though there are taller buildings in Texas and California by height. (Smith Tower, in the older section of downtown called Pioneer Square, once held the title of tallest American building west of the Mississippi.) Other notable buildings are the Washington Mutual Tower, Two Union Square, Nordstrom’s flagship store, Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Central Library designed by Rem Koolhaas, and the main building of the Seattle Art Museum (built 1991, expanded 2007), the main facade of which was designed by Robert Venturi. Downtown parks include Westlake Park, Freeway Park, and Victor Steinbrueck Park. The Olympic Sculpture Park was completed on the Belltown waterfront in January 2007.


In the late 1850s, present day Downtown Seattle was just another residential area of the the city. But after the Great Seattle Fire, the business district was moved here. Since that time the area had been filled with commercial jobs. Starting in the late 1960s, Downtown has been being filled with dozens of skyscrapers and most famously for changing the Seattle skyline, the Columbia Center.


Downtown Seattle's population is growing, with a number of high and mid-rise condominium towers being constructed. Most of the new units are priced for the top end of the region's housing market, although efforts are being made to accommodate middle-class earners.

In 1989, building heights in Downtown and adjoining Seattle suburbs were tightly restricted following a voter initiative. These restrictions were dramatically loosened in 2006, leading to the increase in Downtown high-rise construction. This policy change has divided commentators between those who support the increased density[1] and those who criticize it as "Manhattanization."[2]


RealNetworks headquarters

RealNetworks has its headquarters in Downtown Seattle.[3][4] The online photo-editing service Picnik had its headquarters in Downtown until it was acquired by Google.[5]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The United States Postal Service operates the Seattle Main Post Office (also known as the Midtown Post Office[6]) at 301 Union Street at Third Avenue.[7][8] Seattle City Hall is located at 600 4th Ave,[9] adjacent from the King County Courthouse. Downtown is serviced by the Transit Tunnel, in which the Link Light Rail runs through. The terminus for both the Light Rail and the Seattle Center Monorail is located at Westlake Center. A large number of bus lines also run through, with the ones operated by Metro previously being free of charge while in the now defunct Ride Free Area.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Contact Us." RealNetworks. Retrieved on May 26, 2011. "Corporate Headquarters RealNetworks, Inc. 2601 Elliott Avenue Seattle, WA 98121"
  4. ^ "Cantwell's company pulls welcome mat out from under Gorton." The News Tribune. November 1, 2000. Retrieved on May 26, 2011. "[...] in front of RealNetworks' downtown Seattle office after the hour-long tour."
  5. ^ "About Us." Picnik. Retrieved on March 5, 2010.
  6. ^ "Post Office Location - MIDTOWN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  7. ^ Davila, Florangela. "Clock Is Ticking On Filing Tax Returns." The Seattle Times. Wednesday April 15, 1998. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  8. ^ "Appeal of CARL A. CURRIER, JAMES KERNS, DAVID BAR - P.S. Docket No. POB 00-209, P.S. Docket No. POB 00-271, P.S. Docket No. POB 00-272." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.[dead link]
  9. ^ Downtown Campus Map -

External links[edit]