A ZIP code might be a somewhat useless piece of information in the web-o-sphere age, but in Seattle and its environs—an area swelling with hyperlocal neighborhood pride—those five numbers still speak volumes. Make the mistake of assuming a Queen Anne resident lives in 98109 when he or she is a 98119-er and, trust me, you will get an earful.
When we set out to survey our landscape for the first time in 20 years, since this magazine last reported on the demographics of ZIP codes in 1993, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. (Here’s a time-capsule snippet: Sleepy Ballard is home to sweet, aging Scandinavians! People in Ravenna drive Volvos!). This city has changed so much that even what people generally consider to be “Seattle” has changed (Burien, you’re in!).
Once we settled on a “faces of the neighborhoods” approach to illustrate the story, we put out a call on social media and with just a day’s notice, almost 90 people showed up at our studio to be photographed by staff photographer Hayley Young.
They came with dogs (natch). And children. They came from Beacon Hill, Issaquah, Pioneer Square, West Seattle, Belltown, Fremont, Eastlake, Shoreline, the University District, Leschi, Bellevue and many other spots, all vying to be the face of their neighborhood. Even a few local notables showed up: Clothing designer Michael Cepress (he’s dressed Macklemore), artist Stacey Rozich, antique-style portrait photographer Dan Carrillo and “Awesome” front man Evan Mosher brought their neighborhood pride.
We asked them to tell us what they like about their neighborhoods. They gushed about green spaces, trees, easy access to beaches, mountains and feelings of community, but a few of their comments especially caught my eye.
Greenwood resident Ben Katt wrote that his favorite thing by far is the eastern edge of the neighborhood—Aurora Avenue. “[It] has a lot of character and is filled with resilient, hopeful people,” he wrote.
Melissa Woerner of 98122 (border of Capitol Hill and the Central District) writes “When I walk down the street, there are children riding bikes and playing; an elderly woman sitting on the porch and people my age passing by; I definitely live in a neighborhood full of people of all different ages and backgrounds and I love that.”
Michael Brandt of 98004 (downtown Bellevue) loves that “with all the new businesses and major corporations, there’s a great energy with all of the workers through the day that leads into the night.”
Perhaps my favorite: Tyson Berry of Vashon Island loves how “you sleep great here.” (Insomniacs, take note.) See more portraits and read the responses online at seattlemag.com.
Are we defined by where we live? Finding one face for each neighborhood was impossible. And in some cases, those faces were a surprise (see Naomi Ishisaka’s study of the demographic shift in the Central District on page 114 of the print issue). But it’s still the individual neighborhood pride that binds us together as a city.