West Seattle

West Seattle

West Seattle is a huge strip of land, a large hunk of the western coastline along the southern end of Seattle. It encompasses a variety of different mini-neighborhoods, including Admiral Junction, Morgan Junction, Alaska Junction, Delridge, Highpoint, Alki, Fauntleroy and even sub-neighborhoods like Westwood or Arbor Heights. To the south, West Seattle borders White Center, an unincorporated bit of King County, to the west is Puget Sound, to the east is the Duwamish River and to the north, Elliott Bay. West Seattle became a part of the rest of Seattle in 1907, by which time it already had a long history, having been the first white settlement in the area.

Prior to the Denny Party’s arrival in Alki in 1851, West Seattle was a significant area for local Indian tribes. When they arrived, Chief Sealth, for whom the city was named, a leader of the Duwamish tribe, among others, was there to greet them. The spot where the Denny Party landed also just happened to be part of the tribe’s burial ground, but as settlers were wont to do, they paid little heed. Access to West Seattle by car from the rest of the city is not a simple feat. From downtown there are two bridges, the high bridge and the low bridge, that connect. Further south, the Duwamish can be crossed via State Route 509. From the south West Seattle is much easier to access, but there are still now freeways, making it slow going to travel around the area. Many Seattleites consider West Seattle to be almost a suburb because of this disconnect.

Getting to West Seattle by boat offers two more options. From Vashon Island or Southworth, Washington State Ferries run car and passenger boats to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. To downtown, there is the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, which runs from the south end of Alki to downtown Seattle in the summer months. Near the Fauntleroy dock is Lincoln Park. One of Seattle’s largest parks, Lincoln contains acres of forested walking trails, beaches and many amenities available to the public. It is also home to an outdoor, heated, saltwater pool in the summers.

Through the Admiral, Alaska and Morgan Junctions, California Avenue is the main street of West Seattle. Both sides of the street and often the surrounding blocks are entirely commercial storefronts at street level. The stores offer an interesting mix of old school five and dime type shops and modern new restaurants and buildings. West Seattle’s long history has been retained in many of the older shops, while the neighborhood welcomes with open arms the newer businesses as well.

The water tower at High Point is an accurately named point of interest in West Seattle, as it is the highest point in the city of Seattle. High Point is a mainly residential area, but continuing further south on 35th, a major street in the area, is Westwood Village, a large outdoor shopping mall. Just northwest of Westwood Village is the South Seattle Community College, West Seattle’s beacon of higher education.