travel

Seattle : Around Town - Capitol Hill (part 1)

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Discover one of Seattle’s most electrifying neighborhoods on the long ridge that stretches northeast of downtown. The large gay, lesbian, and transgendered resident population helped to create a vibrant culture reflected in street scenes that hover on the outside edge of mainstream society. But Capitol Hill is much more than a magnet for self expression, although you may see more dyed and spiked hair and imaginatively applied body piercings than elsewhere in Seattle. Abundant shops, clubs, restaurants, and cafés along Broadway, Pike and Pine Streets, and 15th Avenue East draw crowds from all over the city. Key attractions include two vintage movie theaters — the Harvard Exit and the Egyptian Theater — the Cornish College of the Arts, the Central Seattle Community College, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum in the sylvan setting of Volunteer Park. There are quiet streets nearby that boast some of the most lavish private residences in Seattle.

Seattle Pride March

What began as a protest in 1970 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York (which sparked the modern gay rights movement), has become a day of unbridled celebration, outlandish pageantry, music, and politicizing. Although Capitol Hill can no longer accommodate the large numbers that come to participate – the rally now takes place in Seattle Center – the Hill remains an important meeting place for Seattle’s gay community.


Seattle pastime

On most western Capitol Hill streets, downhill is west, uphill is east. Numbered streets run north–south.


Street youth living on or near Broadway’s environs are largely harmless. Use your best judgment if they ask for spare change.


If you’re in Volunteer Park, plant lovers should check out the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Call 206 684 4743 for information.


Sights
  1. Broadway

    If you can buy it, you can find it on Broadway, the nerve center of Capitol Hill. From East Pike to East Roy Streets, storefronts beckon consumers on the hunt for food, vintage and new clothing, music CDs, and lots of coffee. On summer evenings especially, the sheer density of pedestrian traffic along Broadway matches that of midtown Manhattan.

  2. Pike/Pine Corridor

    Bisecting Capitol Hill are two busy streets offering their own flavor and subculture. You can find many of the area’s gay and lesbian hangouts on the blocks above and below Broadway, as well as a great selection of taverns and stores selling vintage housewares and furnishings. Although the city has tried to discourage their postings, you may also notice colorful flyers stapled onto telephone poles and virtually any surface, advertising band concerts in the vicinity. If nothing else, they draw attention to the pulse that keeps this community living and breathing on the edge.

  3. Cathedrals

    Capitol Hill has a number of landmark places of worship, including the grand St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, which be­longs to the Diocese of Olympia. Organ enthusiasts come from afar to play St. Mark’s 3,944-pipe Flentrop organ, installed in 1965. The Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, one of the oldest parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, was founded in 1930 by immigrants who fled the 1917 Russian Revolution. The structure’s ornate turquoise lukovitsa (16th century “onion dome” style of cupolas) and spires rise high above the trees and neighboring homes.

    St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

    • 1245 10th Ave E

    St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

    • 1714 13th Ave

  4. Gay/Lesbian Scene

    Alternative lifestyles are not only tolerated, but encouraged with flagrant same-sex smooching and handholding on the streets. Gay and lesbian clubs proliferate on the Hill, as do shops selling what used to be called marital aids — sex toys in today’s parlance.

  5. Hendrix Statue

    Darryl Smith, an artist once based at the Fremont Fine Arts Foundry, created a lifesize bronze statue of Jimi Hendrix that now graces the Pine Street sidewalk. It shows the musician in his trademark rockstar pose, kneeling in bellbottoms with his Fender guitar pointed skyward. Before Paul Allen built his Experience Music Project, inspired by Hendrix and his music, this installation was Seattle’s best known memorial dedicated to the city’s famous guitarist.

  6. Richard Hugo House

    Writers and readers have enthusiastic support from this institution, named for Richard Hugo (1923–1982) a local writer, instructor, and community builder who became one of the most acclaimed American poets of his time. The center advances Hugo’s vision by bringing innovative and effective writing programs and workshop education to people of all ages and backgrounds. Visitors are welcome to tour the 16,206-sq-ft (1505-sq-m) Victorian house, built in 1902.

    • 1634 11th Ave

    • 206 322 7030

    • Open 9am–6pm

  7. Volunteer Park Observation Tower

    Built by Seattle’s water department in 1906, this 75-ft (23-m) brick tower with an observation deck was designed by the Olmsted Brothers. A short climb of 106 spiraling steps to the deck offers spectacular views of Puget Sound, the Space Needle, and the Olympic Mountains. Volunteer Park is also the site of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

  8. Lake View Cemetery

    This 1887-era cemetery, on a hilltop just past the northern end of Volunteer Park, is the final resting place for prominent Seattleites, and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Tombstones here identify the pioneers whose names now grace present-day streets or area towns – Denny, Maynard, Boren, Mercer, Yesler, and Renton. Lake View also draws the faithful followers of cinema star and martial arts master, Bruce Lee (1940–1973), and his son Brandon, whose sculpted tombstones lie side by side.

    • 1554 15th E

    • 206 322 1582

  9. Neighborhood Homes

    Stroll down the 3-block stretch of Denny between Broadway and Olive Way to scout for charming Victorian and Craftsman-style homes and elegant balconies decorated with hanging flower baskets or off-beat art. Marvel at the opulent mansions on the blocks just south of Volunteer Park. Capitol Hill’s adjacent Central District, south of Madison and north of 14th Avenue East, is a transitional neighborhood but features view properties with gorgeous old homes – best seen by car.

  10. Eastlake

    An entire neighborhood disappeared when Interstate-5 cut a trough at the base of Capitol Hill. The sliver of a community that remains is called Eastlake, named after the main thoroughfare. Today, it survives as a mixed-use residential community at Lake Union’s edge, popular with students, artists, and water-lovers as exemplified by the community of houseboats. REI’s flagship store marks the beginning of Eastlake’s commercial area, and farther north, the neighborhood opens up with taverns, cafés, and stores that revel in the geography – halfway between downtown and the University District.

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