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Columbia City station

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Columbia City Station Pictogram.svg
Columbia City
Link light rail station
Platform View Columbia City Station View.jpg
The northbound platform at Columbia City Station
Location 4818 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S
Seattle, Washington
Owned by Sound Transit
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 2
Connections King County Metro
Structure type Surface
Parking Paid parking nearby
Bicycle facilities Bicycle lockers
Disabled access Yes
Opened July 18, 2009 (2009-07-18)
Passengers 1,783 daily boardings (2015)[1]
Preceding station  
  Following station
toward Angle Lake
Central Link

Columbia City is a light rail station located in Seattle, Washington. It is situated between the Othello and Mount Baker stations on the Central Link line, which runs from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport to Downtown Seattle and the University of Washington as part of the Link light rail system. The station consists of two at-grade side platforms between South Alaska Street and South Edmunds Street in the median of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in the Columbia City neighborhood, part of Seattle's Rainier Valley.

The station opened on July 18, 2009. Trains serve the station 20 hours a day on most days; the headway between trains is 6 minutes during peak periods, with less frequent service at other times. Columbia City station is also served by two King County Metro bus routes that connect it to Mount Baker, Renton and West Seattle.


Columbia City station is located in the median of Martin Luther King Jr. Way between Alaska and Edmunds streets in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle's Rainier Valley. It is approximately six blocks west of the neighborhood's central business district and designated historic district, centered on Rainier Avenue.[2][3]

The station is located downhill from Cheasty Boulevard South, a preserved Olmsted boulevard and city landmark running along the east edge of Beacon Hill;[4] other parks in the area include Genesee Park to the east of the Columbia City business district, Columbia Park, the Rainier Playfield, and Hitt's Hill Park.[5][6]

Transit-oriented development[edit]

The area surrounding Columbia City station consists primarily of single-family detached homes with some multi-family units, including some low-income housing at the Seattle Housing Authority's Rainier Vista public housing development.[2] It is noted as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Seattle metropolitan area, with 75 percent of its 5,667 residents identifying as part of a racial minority; the neighborhood also has 1,502 jobs located within a half-mile (0.8 km) of the station.[7] Height limits in the area range from 40 feet (12 m) adjacent to the station to 65 feet (20 m) along Rainier Avenue.[8]

The construction of the light rail station has triggered interest in transit-oriented development by private developers in proximity to Columbia City station.[9] New market rate apartments, the first in four decades for the neighborhood, were opened by Harbor Urban in 2012.[10] The Zion Preparatory Academy sold its campus to developers in 2009 for $5 million;[11] the 6-acre (2.4 ha) site was redeveloped into a six-building complex with 244 apartments by The Wolff Company in 2015.[9][12]


Columbia City was established in 1891 as a streetcar suburb by J. K. Edmiston, the owner of the Rainier Avenue Electric Railway. Edmiston had built the line and a lumber mill on the site of old-growth forests to aid in the rebuilding of Downtown Seattle after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. The 40-acre (16 ha) site was later named "Columbia" and plotted for homes, and incorporated in 1893 as "Columbia City". The city was annexed by the city of Seattle in 1907 after Edmiston sold the railway and left the fledgling town, who felt their tax base was too small to support the area's growth.[13] The Rainier Avenue line would cease operations on January 1, 1937, in order to pave Rainier Avenue;[14][15] service was replaced by motor buses, after an unsuccessful attempt to extend the Seattle Municipal Street Railway to the area.[16]

A modern light rail system was proposed by a newly formed regional transit authority (RTA) in 1995, including a line running on Rainier Avenue between Downtown Seattle and Seattle–Tacoma International Airport that stopped in Columbia City.[17] After the $6.7 billion proposal was rejected by voters in March 1995, the RTA considered building a shorter elevated line on Rainier Avenue, including an option beginning at Columbia City and ending in the University District.[18] In November 1996, a condensed $3.9 billion regional transit plan was approved by voters, including a light rail line between Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport that ran through the Rainier Valley, with an elevated station on Rainier Avenue South at South Edmunds Street in Columbia City.[19][20][21]

Concerns from Rainier Valley residents over blocked intersections, property acquisition and equity led the RTA (later re-branded as Sound Transit) to study a $400 million tunnel through the Rainier Valley.[22] In November 1999, the Sound Transit Board instead selected an at-grade alignment on Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the west of Rainier, with a station at South Edmunds Street.[23]

Sound Transit awarded a $128 million contract to the joint venture of Robinson Construction and Herzog Contracting (forming RCI-Herzog) in February 2004 for construction of the Rainier Valley segment of Central Link.[24] Construction began later that year, with early work on Martin Luther King Jr. Way primarily consisting of utility relocation, property condemnation and reconstruction of the roadway.[25] Station construction at the Edmunds Street station, since renamed Columbia City,[26] began in September 2006 and was completed in 2008.[27] Light rail test trains began running through the Rainier Valley in August 2008, with service expected to start in July 2009.[28]

The station was opened on July 18, 2009, on the first day of Central Link service from Downtown Seattle to Tukwila International Boulevard station.[29] Local businesses celebrated the arrival of light rail by offering discounts and free samples to patrons with light rail tickets.[30]

Station layout[edit]

Side platform, doors will open on the right
Northbound Central Link toward University of Washington (Mount Baker)
Southbound Central Link toward Angle Lake (Othello)
Side platform, doors will open on the right

Columbia City station consists of two at-grade side platforms in the median of Martin Luther King Jr. Way between Edmunds and Alaska streets. The station is accessible from crosswalks at both streets, with the platforms running the entire length between the two. At both of the station's entrances are ticket vending machines and an ORCA card reader; beyond that lies the partially covered platform and waiting area, which includes seating and public art.[31] The station, like others in the Rainier Valley, was designed by architecture firm Arai/Jackson, and incorporates references to Craftsman-style homes that populate the neighborhood.[32][33]

To the east of the station's south entrance on Edmunds Street is a small public plaza with landscaping, seating, and bicycle amenities. The station's "bike plaza" was opened in November 2011, with 46 secure lockers for bicycles.[34]


Columbia City station also houses four art installations as part of the "STart" program, which allocates a percentage of project construction funds to art projects to be used in stations.[35] The main theme of the station is gardening, reflected in three of the four sculptures.[36]

The most prominent piece at the station is Victoria Fuller's "Global Garden Shovel", a 35-foot-tall (11 m) bronze sculpture of a shovel at the northwest corner of MLK Jr. Way and Alaska Street. The shovel's surface is cast from molds of indigenous plants, fruits and vegetables from around the world; Fuller drew inspiration from the number of home gardens she saw in the Rainier Valley and sought to represent the neighborhood's cultural and racial diversity.[37] Gale McCall's "A Relic in the Garden" consists of two large magnifying glasses in the planter boxes on the side of the station platforms, and four bronze baskets at the station's entrances that are illuminated at night. The magnifying glasses have open lenses that are filled with outlines of flowers, guarden faucets, baseball bats, and other "relics".[36][38][39]

At the station's public plaza at South Edmunds Street, two installations from Juan Alonso and Norie Sato create an enclosure of the public space. Sato's "Pride" consists of stone, bricks and bronze lions, in the style of various cultures, that were placed to guard the plaza's entrances. Alonso's "Garden Windows" is on the back wall of a systems building and consists of several glass windows in the brick wall, with abstract depictions of circulatory systems found in the human body, plants and the Interstate highways.[36][38]

The station's pictogram, a dove, references the constellation Columba (named for the dove in Latin). It was created by Christian French as part of the Stellar Connections series and its points represent nearby destinations, including Columbia Park, the Columbia City Library, Rainier Valley Cultural Center, Ark Lodge, and Orca K-8 School.[40][41]


Columbia City station is part of Sound Transit's Central Link line, which runs from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport through the Rainier Valley and Downtown Seattle to the University of Washington. It is the fifth northbound station from Angle Lake and eleventh southbound station from University of Washington, and is situated between Othello and Mount Baker stations. Central Link trains serve Columbia City 20 hours a day on weekdays and Saturdays, from 5:00 am to 1:00 am, and 18 hours on Sundays, from 6:00 am to 12:00 am; during regular weekday service, trains operate roughly every 6 to 10 minutes during rush hour and midday operation, respectively, with longer headways of 15 minutes in the early morning and 20 minutes at night. During weekends, Central Link trains arrive at Columbia City station every 10 minutes during midday hours and every 15 minutes during mornings and evenings. The station is approximately 19 minutes from SeaTac/Airport station and 19 minutes from Westlake station in Downtown Seattle.[42][43]

Columbia City station is also served by two bus routes operated by King County Metro that use bus stops adjacent to the station: Route 38 provides local, frequent-stop service on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South between Route 50 travels east–west between West Seattle, SoDo, Columbia City, Seward Park and Othello station;[44] and Route 106 provides local, frequent-stop service on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South between Rainier Beach and Mount Baker stations, while also serving the International District, Skyway and Renton.[45][46] Prior to March 2016, route 8 served the Martin Luther King Jr. Way corridor, connecting Columbia City station to the Central District, Capitol Hill, and Lower Queen Anne.[47][48]

Metro also runs the Route 97 Link Shuttle, a shuttle service serving Link stations along surface streets during Link service disruptions, between Downtown and Rainier Valley stations.[49] During the annual Seafair, free shuttle buses are used between Columbia City station and hydroplane races on Lake Washington at Genesee Park.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Appendix D: Stop Level Ridership Data". 2016 Service Implementation Plan (PDF) (Report). Sound Transit. December 2015. pp. 169–170. Retrieved August 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Lindblom, Mike (July 11, 2009). "Columbia City light-rail station: Off the beaten path". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  3. ^ Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. "Columbia City Landmark District". Historic Districts. City of Seattle. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Cheasty - Getting There". Cheasty Greenspace. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  5. ^ My Neighborhood Map (Map). Cartography by NAVTEQ. City of Seattle. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  6. ^ Columbia City Station Link Light Rail Parking Management (PDF) (Map). Seattle Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  7. ^ Growing Transit Communities Oversight Committee (October 2013). "Columbia City: Light Rail/Bus" (PDF). The Growing Transit Communities Strategy. Puget Sound Regional Council. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  8. ^ Surdyke, Scott (June 28, 2012). "The key to successful TODs lies in taller buildings". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Levy, Nat (September 3, 2013). "Developers find fertile ground for apartments in Columbia City". Seattle Journal of Commerce. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  10. ^ Lang Jones, Jeanne (September 18, 2012). "First market-rate apartment complex in Columbia City in 43 years opens this weekend". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  11. ^ Pryne, Eric (November 26, 2009). "Zion Prep sells campus in Columbia City to developer for $5 million". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  12. ^ Shapiro, Nina (November 18, 2014). "Where Development Is Not Happening in Seattle and Why". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  13. ^ Stripling, Sherry (March 21, 2002). "Columbia City: Strolling past some Seattle history". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  14. ^ Tate, Cassandra (June 2, 2001). "Seattle Neighborhoods: Columbia City -- Thumbnail History". HistoryLink. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Board Summons Rainier Crews". The Seattle Times. January 3, 1937. p. 8. 
  16. ^ "Valley Line May Receive $50,000". The Seattle Times. December 2, 1936. p. 12. 
  17. ^ "The Regional Transit System Proposal" (PDF). Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority. February 1995. pp. 1–2. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  18. ^ Schaefer, David (January 11, 1996). "RTA ready to unveil new plan: rapid transit proposal's cost, scope downsized". The Seattle Times. p. A1. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Sound Move: Launching a Rapid Transit System for the Puget Sound Region" (PDF). Sound Transit. May 31, 1996. p. 21. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  20. ^ Schaefer, David (November 6, 1996). "Voters back transit plan on fourth try". The Seattle Times. p. A1. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  21. ^ Schaefer, David (November 7, 1996). "Transit plan can trace surprise success to suburbs; new support found on Eastside, in Snohomish County". The Seattle Times. p. B1. Retrieved September 2, 2016. 
  22. ^ Serrano, Barbara; Schaefer, David (January 29, 1999). "Calls get louder for rail tunnel: south end turns out en masse to argue against street-level trains". The Seattle Times. p. B1. 
  23. ^ Fryer, Alex (November 19, 1999). "A milestone for light rail: regional board selects station sites, alignment". The Seattle Times. p. A1. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  24. ^ Hadley, Jane (February 24, 2004). "Sound Transit signs light rail contract". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Initial Segment—Rainier Valley". Link Light Rail Progress Report, June 2006 (Report). Sound Transit. June 2006. p. 27. 
  26. ^ "Sound Transit Motion No. M2005-09" (PDF). Sound Transit. January 13, 2005. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Initial Segment—Rainier Valley". Link Light Rail Progress Report, September 2008 (Report). Sound Transit. September 2008. p. 25. 
  28. ^ Lindblom, Mike (August 13, 2008). "Sound Transit to run test trains through Rainier Valley". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  29. ^ "Link light rail launches new era of mobility for central Puget Sound" (Press release). Sound Transit. July 18, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  30. ^ Vinh, Tan (August 13, 2009). "Take light rail to Columbia City and get deals when you show your ticket". The Seattle Times. p. D12. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Columbia City Station" (PDF). Sound Transit. November 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  32. ^ Rainier Valley Link Light Rail Route & Stations (PDF) (Map). Sound Transit. February 2, 2004. OCLC 49259323. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 8, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  33. ^ Cheek, Lawrence (September 29, 2008). "On Architecture: Light rail stations are on the right track". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008. Retrieved May 27, 2017. 
  34. ^ "New options for bike commuters at Rainier Valley light rail stations" (Press release). Sound Transit. October 31, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  35. ^ "STart Public Art Program". Sound Transit. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  36. ^ a b c "Columbia City Station - Public Art". Sound Transit. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Global Garden Shovel". Victoria Fuller. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  38. ^ a b "STart - Sound Transit Art Program: Guide to Art" (PDF). Sound Transit. April 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  39. ^ Upchurch, Michael (July 12, 2009). "Sound Transit light rail's public art makes a big splash". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Stellar Connections". Sound Transit. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  41. ^ "Stellar Connections: The story of the pictograms at Link light rail stations" (PDF). Sound Transit. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 8, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Link light rail schedule". Sound Transit. March 19, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  43. ^ "Expanded Metro bus service coming; Link light rail ramps up in downtown tunnel" (Press release). King County Metro. September 16, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  44. ^ Lindblom, Mike (April 23, 2012). "Metro bus riders face big changes". The Seattle Times. p. A1. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  45. ^ Ride the Wave Transit Guide (PDF) (September 2016 ed.). Sound Transit. September 10, 2016. p. 15. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  46. ^ Metro Transit System: Central Area (PDF) (Map). King County Metro. September 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  47. ^ Columbia City in Motion (Map). King County Metro. September 16, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  48. ^ "Metro Transit Service Change: March 26, 2016". King County Metro. March 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  49. ^ "No Link light rail service on Nov. 15 for system upgrades" (Press release). Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit. November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  50. ^ McKenzie, Madeline (August 2, 2016). "How to celebrate Seafair this weekend". The Seattle Times. p. E30. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 

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