Akli Beach

Akli Beach

Alki may have the sheen, shine and beachfront property to make it seem brand new, however, it is actually Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. Located in West Seattle, Alki is where the Denny party, Seattle’s original white settlers spent their first winter in the area. By the following spring they had moved on to the Duwamps, now known as Pioneer Square.

Alki was called New York Alki, though the name was then shortened, after the Chinook word meaning ‘by and by.’ It is also the Washington state motto. Partially in honor of the original name, a miniature Statue of Liberty stands at the edge of Alki Beach. The other major feature of note at Alki is the lighthouse, which was built in 1913 and still operates today. It is located on West Point which denoting the division between Puget Sound and Elliott Bay. The lighthouse is a tourist attraction, however, it is not open to the public. Only to its southern edge is Alki bordered by land, where it gradually fades into the greater West Seattle area as it climbs the hill. There is also a monument erected on the beach to the Denny Party, to commemorate their founding of what was then called the ‘Seattle Colony.’

Today’s Alki is a busy, popular place, known as much for the cars cruising its streets and the traffic they create as for the beach itself. A two-mile long strip of classic sandy beach, lined to one side with a path for biking, walking or roller-blading; Alki often seems like it would fit in better in California than under the grey skies of Seattle. During the day the beach is a popular place to sun oneself, at night for bonfires and parties along the shore. At any hour, much of the activity along the beachfront strip is of the ‘’see and be seen’ variety.

While there are a few historic buildings still sprinkled amongst the newer constructions along Alki, they are in the minority. Despite the many shorelines, Alki is the only place in Seattle to be reminiscent of Miami or other seaside cities with tall apartment complexes and various other multi-unit housing structures. Adding to the different feel of Alki from other places in the city is the nature of the restaurants lining the street. Like clamshacks in New England, deep fried food stands dot the landscape of Alki.

Alki is a very popular weekend destination at all times, however it gets especially crowded for the three day Alki Music Festival each summer. The festival is the continuation of a tradition of having concerts on the beach. In fact, the first cable cars that carried people to Alki from downtown Seattle were built for this purpose. Prior to the cable cars, access to Alki was limited to people arriving via boat.