Ranier Valley

Ranier Valley


The Rainier Valley contains the single most diverse zip code in the United States. This distinction comes from it having been a welcoming neighborhood to all people, including immigrants and mixed race couples throughout its history. Rainier Avenue is the centerpiece to the neighborhood, though Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which it criss-crosses, is also a major thoroughfare. The neighborhood takes its name from the street, however the reason for the naming of the street is obvious on clear day: Mt Rainier seems to sit like a pot of gold at the end of Rainier Avenue’s rainbow.

The area became developable when the building of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the re-routing of the Duwamish River converted the swampy lowland into habitable land. The first to settle here were groups of Italian immigrants whose fragrant cooking in restaurants and homes earned the area the nickname ‘Garlic Gulch.’ Later it became a place for mixed-race couples to move when their own neighborhoods were not accepting of their new unions. Later still the low housing cost drew in the newest immigrants from all over.

Seattle has never had some of the significant ethnic enclaves of other cities, due in part to having only small amounts of immigrants from each country. Instead, the Rainier Valley has acted as the welcome wagon for people of all nations, making it home to many of Seattle’s most recent immigrants. Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Somalian and all types of Middle-Eastern and Asian shops line the streets with signs in a variety of languages.




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