Columbia City is one of Seattle's most diverse and intriguing suburbs. From humble beginnings, the district has come to be an example of the tenacity and cultural openness of the Greater Puget Sound Region.
Located just south of the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Mt. Baker, Columbia City looks out on Lake Washington to lovely Mercer Island. Home to the beautiful, old-growth forest of Seward Park and a thriving downtown along Rainier Avenue South, no region of Seattle has developed quite as quickly as Columbia City, or with as much character.
Named after Christopher Columbus, many of the streets in Columbia City bear the names of famous explorers, such as Ferdinand Magellan, Henry Hudson and Amerigo Vespucci. American Indians first settled the region prior to European colonization of North America; the earliest iteration of Columbia City was a center for the lumber industry, and then later briefly served as a lake harbor.
Events in the recent history of Columbia City have served to rejuvenate what was once a poor worker's town. A large influx of artists and commuter professionals took advantage of Columbia City's affordable housing in the 1980's, establishing a cultural artisan feel that persists to this day. The city of Seattle has even taken measures to curb the inflation of housing costs in suburbs like Columbia City, though a 1990's building trend led to several expensive regions popping up in the neighborhood. Today, prices have begun to level out and there is a mix of housing options, ranging from single-family homes to affordable apartments.
Much of the business in downtown Columbia City is of the boutique variety. The owners have a reputation for friendliness and the residents for their enthusiasm for local attractions. In addition to several bars and well-regarded restaurants that draw people from all around Seattle, Columbia City boasts the beautiful renovated movie theater Columbia Cinema, as well as the Columbia City Theater music venue. The downtown has its own art gallery, the Columbia City Gallery, and is just a stone's throw from the thriving art community in the Georgetown neighborhood. Columbia City has a number of friendly community events, such as the weekly farmer's market on Wednesdays and the monthly Beat Walk featuring art shows, live jazz music and other open house events from May through October.
Columbia City has a very low crime rate and has a variety of options for education. On the south side near Seward Park there is the popular Graham Hill Elementary School with its well-regarded Montessori program, as well as the more traditional Orca at Columbia K-7 School. Most high school students in Columbia City attend Cleveland High School.
Columbia City is one of the south side neighborhoods that will see service with Seattle's new Light Rail expansion, allowing for an easier commute north into downtown and south to the Sea-Tac region. In addition to this, there are several other developments launching soon, including rejuvenated mixed-use buildings, new condominiums and an environmental learning center at Seward Park.