Columbia City is one of Seattle’s most historic and diverse communities, offering a small town, Main Street sensibility that is complimented by its numerous urban amenities and which contrasts nicely with its close proximity and easy access to the city center. Its business district, with an eclectic mix of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 for its originality and continuity, and thrives as a landmark-protected community asset. Today, pedestrian friendly Columbia City is one of Seattle’s most creative and energetic neighborhoods, with a dynamic range of new and legacy businesses that includes several bars, restaurants and cafes, a vintage theater, a movie house, numerous live music venues, galleries, assorted retail and an arts center.
Originally incorporated in 1893, Columbia City was developed as an independent town to take advantage of the newly constructed Rainier Valley Electric Railway from Downtown Seattle. As such, its compact and efficient layout can be considered an early version of the transit-based urban village concept so popular today. Columbia City was annexed by the city of Seattle in 1905 by an overwhelming majority vote, and has remained an active neighborhood ever since.
Throughout its history, Columbia City has existed as one of Seattle’s most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods. It has been a welcoming home to numerous minority and immigrant populations, and has long been an African American cultural and professional hub. The community has a remarkable ability to absorb and integrate newcomers with warmth and grace, celebrating its diversity with an array of organizations and facilities that include Bike Works, The Boys and Girls Club, The Rainier Arts Center and Southside Commons, among many. This infectious neighborhood involvement is typified by the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade, the Beat Walk live music series, and by the legendary Columbia City Farmer’s Market.
With historic charm that is matched only by its diversity and the creative energy and commitment of its residents, Columbia City stands as one of Seattle’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan urban hubs.