The city is smaller (~3 million MSA) and tucked away in the Pac NW, but it has so many characteristics that put it in the same league of “gateway markets” such as SF, Boston, DC, NYC, LA, NYC. Such a stunning place with an almost unbeatable natural environ, and it is CLEAN and safe. It’s got a huge port, thriving international communities, 21st century industrial sector/economy, excellent public transit (don’t gripe at me about lack of rail…the busses here are more useful than most rail in America), educated population and universities (UW), parks and amenities, etc.
Still, while this was my first trip to Seattle and I happened to catch a BEAUTIFUL day when I had time to take these pictures, my expectations were so high that I was reminded that it was indeed a smaller city that still had some catching up to do to rival its neighbor to the south (SF) and other East Coast markets (Boston for example). While there is plenty of older building stock, plenty of culture, and tons of infill and urbanity, there is still tons of dead space, empty lots, and a “quieter” atmosphere indicative of a smaller American metro. I guess with the way things are going (read booming economy) and the multitude of development opportunities there (read empty or under-utilized lots), that is why I counted something like 25ish tower cranes up at once in and around the CBD!
My favorite area by far was Belltown…this place is happening! Still, a little difficult to catch a cab (not that SF is actually any better, LoL). Nonetheless, I can really only count on 6-7 fingers cities in America that are more walkable and more urban/vibrant. There is a lot more going on in central Seattle than all of modern America’s current growth cities (aka Sunbelt).
disclaimer: do not make fun of me or Seattle for the music, just shut the fuck up, put it on and enjoy
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The famous Pioneer Square. This area took me by surprise…I had heard so much about all of the development in the area that I didn’t realize that it was still a transitional area that has a ton of homeless/grit. This is where a lot of the city’s best new restaurants seemed to be, as well as art galleries and lofts, and of course they are redeveloping King St Station. I'd call it the "Soma" of Seattle where Tech has sort of provided an impetus for redevelopment/gentrification, with its proclivity to locate office space in older high-ceiling buildings. Everyone else has seemed to follow.
5. The port and the stadiums provide the backdrop for the area.
7. By the time you’ve reached the highway, you’ve already walked up a *massive* hill. Look to the office buildings to the left and notice that you’re halfway up their elevation. Columbia Center and surrounding towers are actually way up on a hill.
9. St. James Cathedral (Catholic, c. 1907)…by now you all know I love churches
24. The famous Olympic Hotel (one of the first Westins…aka Western International, then a Four Seasons for 2 decades, now flagged by Fairmont…it’s Seattle’s established hotel). UW owns the land and the improvements.
30. The view at Columbia Center is only around 900 ft, but with that hill leading up from the water, I bet you're at least as high up off the Sound as JHC is high off the lake in Chicago.
32. Very large port…love cities with ports/shipping trade. Seattle has ferries, PWCs and yachts, container/oil ships, cruise ships, and with Bremerton it has lots of old Navy ships, too…as well as a robust coast guard and tall mast ships docked alongside the harbor/piers.
34. The International District (very Asian, particularly Vietnamese?)
37. Mercer Island, where most of Seattle’s wealthy live, including Bill Gates.
38. Look at that natural beauty!
40. I tend to love cities with ferries (Seattle, SF, NYC, Anchorage, Hatteras, Stockholm, Sydney, Osaka, etc)
46. I couldn’t get a good pic of Rainier…but man is it tall! I learned it was the most dangerous slope to climb in the continental US while I was there.
49. Westlake Center, the hub of Seattle transit (LRT, busses, monorail), tourism (hotels), and shopping (at corner of 5th Ave and Pine across from Nordstrom HQ and flagship).
51. SLU (South Lake Union): Every real estate investor’s wet dream of a submarket.
52. Look at all the tower cranes in the area!!
56. Much better views in my opinion at the Space Needle, but the line is a little ridiculous and it is a ripoff.
63. Now that’s quality infill…guess residents will have to find street parking or take the bus as they probably already do!
66. Lake Union…UW is near the bridge…didn’t make it over there to take pics, but man what a beautiful campus!
69. This seemed like it would be a common site in the area
73. Alto Apartments, one of the newest buildings in Seattle, in the Belltown neighborhood. 1BRs from $1500-$1600 and 2BRs from $2100 for new construction with amenities. I looked at a few apartments while I was there, and I know rents are skyrocketing 10+% annually (expect that to level off with all the new deliveries), but Seattle is still a lot cheaper than other gateway markets (SF, Boston, DC, central Chicago)
81. I tend to love cities with CityTargets