Belltown is a sub-neighborhood, sometimes considered to be a part of downtown, located north of the central business district. Nestled between the skyscrapers of downtown and the sky-scraping monuments of Seattle Center, Belltown holds its own as a neighborhood, with the occasional tall apartment building and an outsize reputation for nightlife and food.

Belltown has one of the more interesting histories of any of the Seattle neighborhoods. Originally this flat waterfront swath of land was one of Seattle’s seven hills, Denny Hill. In the early 20th century, it was decided that the steep hill bordering Seattle’s downtown to the north was detrimental to the city’s economy and the city decided to raze the hill, flattening it to the landscape now known as Belltown. For many years the neighborhood was mainly known as the Denny Regrade Area. It was, to say the least, not considered a savory neighborhood. Known more for the people who inhabited its streets than for the companies that inhabited its buildings, the Denny Regrade had a terrible reputation.

Over the last few decades, the Belltown area has undergone a major clean up and rebranding effort. The name ‘Denny Regrade’ is nearly forgotten, and while crime is still a big problem for the area, it is also a thriving business area. Mainly known for restaurants and nightlife, the zip code has over 100 restaurants alone. Many of Seattle’s top chefs have places in Belltown, earning it a reputation for delicious food. A great number of the restaurants offer happy hour, luring workers north from downtown to end the day with a snack and a beverage. Seattle’s amazing happy hours offer discounts of the cities best food and drinks. Those drinks can occasionally go long, bringing guests to join the evening crowds of Belltown.

The nightlife of the area is big, loud and crazy. While it is well known for being a great place to go out on weekends, it is also well known as a dangerous place to be on weekends, and by neighbors as a very disruptive place to be on weekends. Yet every evening, people crowd the various bars that line First and Second Avenue in Belltown.

During the day, Belltown is home to a number of office buildings, including the headquarters to Real Networks. Other neighborhood businesses include a number of art galleries, boutique shops and salons. During the summer, cruise ships dock along the waterfront side of Belltown and the crowds crisscross the neighborhood on their way to Pike Place Market to the south or Seattle Center to the north. Within the Belltown Confines is the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free nine-acre park that is part of the Seattle Art Museum. Its waterfront grounds are great for wandering, picnicking or simply admiring the many great pieces of outdoor sculpture art. While Seattle’s downtown is not a very residential area, Belltown is fast becoming the destination for people who seek the urbanite life. With condos and apartments aplenty, Belltown offers many of the advantages of Manhattan-style city living. As they go up, taller and taller, there is resistance from old-timers in the area, but the growth has yet to falter.