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Seattle WA

Columbia City, WA

Columbia City is a neighborhood in the Rainier Valley area of southeast Seattle, Washington, known either for being one of the "hottest" neighborhoods in Seattle, or for its rapid gentrification, depending on one's perspective. It is best known for being a historic district, being one of the few parts of Seattle with genuine ethnic and income diversity (some claim that its zip code, 98118, is one of the most diverse in America) and for being an extremely walkable (having a 92% "WalkScore") and transit-oriented "urban village."
Its main thoroughfares are Rainier Avenue S. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. (until 1988 known as Empire Way S.) (north- and southbound) and S. Alaska Street (east- and westbound). Efforts are underway to extend bike lanes into the neighborhood and slow traffic to safer speeds on Rainier Avenue. Work has already begun on a series of sidewalk improvements. The community is served by the Columbia City Link Light Rail station (approximately 18 minutes from downtown Seattle), and several Metro bus lines, including the 7,8,9, 39, and 42.
The area was once dense conifer forest, inhabited by the local Salish peoples, until the arrival of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway from Downtown in 1891. A lumber mill was built soon after, and in 1891 settlement began in earnest in "Columbia," named for the Columbia River, which was considered a symbol the Northwest power and bounty, or for Christopher Columbus, or for Columbia the personification of West-looking America, as in the song "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean" (listen) which was popular at the time of the city's founding. Three streets in the neighborhood bear names of other famous explorers, a Columbia Street already existing Downtown: Ferdinand Street after Magellan, Hudson Street after Henry Hudson, and Americus Street after Amerigo Vespucci.