Columbia City

Just a short drive from downtown Seattle, the historic landmark neighborhood of Columbia City seems worlds away. The wooded hills and farming areas, settled in the late 1800s, were quickly established as an alternative to downtown living. Today, its turn-of-the-century buildings are filled with an eclectic mix of retailers, vibrant dining establishments and a host of entertainment options. With an authenticity that's hard to match, Columbia City is the commercial center for the surrounding neighborhoods of Mount Baker, Lakewood/Seward Park, and the rest of the Rainier Valley.

Columbia City hosts myriad events such as the Wednesday Farmer's Market (May through October), a monthly live music event, BeatWalk (featuring a joint cover to live music at many area businesses the second Fridays, May throughSeptember), hip live music in a historic vaudeville theatre at the Columbia City Theater and Bourbon bar, and first-run movies in a neighborhood cinema.

Columbia City has the highest Walk Score of any neighborhood south of downtown, including the ever-popular “Junction” in West Seattle. Translation: there’s a lot to do here, and it’s all concentrated in one area. The people here love to support the local businesses. For example, I talked to a guy working at a little boutique who not only lived in the neighborhood but also bartended at the pub next door. In fact, he may have just been filling in at the shop as a favor to the owner. The point is: people get along harmoniously here in Columbia City.

The word must be out that this is a great place to have a family; there is a large number of married folks, and the percentage of homes with children, at 30%, dwarfs the city average of 18.2%. But have no fear, singles; there are many of your type here, too. Aside from those statistics, the rest of the demographics are fairly equal. About as many people rent as own their homes, there is a balance between middle and upper income levels, and no one age bracket stands out as the most common.