Capital Hill

Capital Hill

Capitol Hill is a neighborhood that wears many hats, known as much for the sexual orientation of its residents as it is for the vibrancy of its nightlife. Despite the descriptive name, the hill has nothing to do with being the capitol of anything; though rumor has it the name came from a failed bid to move the capitol of Washington north from Olympia. It does, however serve as a de facto capitol of many things in Seattle, including live music, trendy restaurants and the gay community in the area.

Broadway is the main thoroughfare of Capitol Hill, and, in fact, the original name for Capitol Hill was Broadway Hill. The neighborhood stretches beyond the Broadway area, though. Interstate 5 divides Capitol Hill from Cascade and Downtown on the west; 23rd Avenue is the line between Montlake (further north) or Madison Valley (further south) and Capitol Hill. The northern border is State Route 520, north of which is Portage Bay and the Montlake Cut. The southern border is Madison, dividing Capitol Hill and First Hill or the Central District.

There are a number of different mini-neighborhoods around Capitol Hill. South Capitol Hill is known as the Pike/Pine Corridor and is the live music center of the area. Once home to the famous ‘Grunge scene’ of Seattle, it is now home to a variety of different styles and a great group of clubs that thrive on bringing in local and national acts. This comes to a head each July when the area host the Capitol Hill Block Party, a raucous festival that draws crowds from around the city.

The street of Broadway itself is another mini-neighborhood, known for the LGBT nightlife and services in the area. Starting in the early 80s, Capitol Hill earned itself a reputation as a welcoming place for anyone and the nightlife was only part of the program. As the entire city become more welcoming, things spread out, but Capitol Hill retains its reputation for the best gay clubs in the city. Seattle’s Pride festival is celebrated here each June. Broadway is also known for its variety of budget restaurants and stores.

North and east of Broadway is Millionaire’s Row and the entire 98112 zip code, the wealthiest zip code in the city of Seattle. The enormous homes along tree-lined streets on the north and east side of Volunteer Park make this so. The area was originally a Catholic enclave, and the remnants of that are shown in giant, seven bedroom homes and the like.

Volunteer and Cal Anderson Parks are the center of activity on Capitol Hill, especially on hot days. Volunteer Park offers great grassy areas, outdoor theater and a water tower with an incredible view. The cemetery next door is known for holding the remains of both martial arts star Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon. Across from the cemetery is a lookout with panoramic views of Lake Washington. Cal Anderson Park is a large open space with sports courts and a water fountain.