Capitol Hill is the epicenter of Seattle’s counterculture—a community east of the downtown business district pulsing with artists and hipsters. It is the city’s most densely populated neighborhood, the center of LGBTQ culture, and known as the apex of the 1990s grunge scene.
The neighborhood was named in 1901 by James Moore, Seattle’s chief developer, but accounts differ on where the name originated. Some speculate that it was a ploy to move the state capital from Olympia to Seattle. Others insist that Moore named the area after Denver’s Capitol Hill- his wife’s hometown.
Volunteer Park sits at the neighborhood’s highest point, a 48-acre landmark with a water tower that affords a spectacular view of the city from its top. The park is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a five-room tropical plant conservatory built in 1912. Gardens, miles of walking paths, and a reservoir are also among the park’s offerings.
Broadway, the main commercial thoroughfare, is jammed with retro eateries, coffee houses, bookstores, and bars hosting live music. Some of the city’s best-known movie theaters screen flicks from the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival, which is the largest of its kind in the country. The Seattle Fringe Festival, the first and oldest fringe festival in the United States, is held in 29 venues across Capitol Hill and features theatrical performances by groups from across the world. The Richard Hugo House, headquarters for writers-in-residence and literary workshops, supplements the area’s numerous dance studios by hosting frequent performing arts events.
The pride of the Seattle music scene is the neighborhood’s annual Capitol Hill Block Party, a three-day festival in late July that showcases over 60 music groups. In previous years, the festival has seen bands such as The Presidents of the United States of America, Sonic Youth, and Blue Scholars jamming for crowds. Apart from music, the festival hosts independent craft booths and raises money for local non-profit organizations like the Vera Project, an all-ages volunteer-run music and arts venue. The block party has been a yearly music staple of the city since 1997 and drew a record-breaking crowd of 27,000 in 2010.
- Capitol Hill is bounded by Interstate 5 (I-5) to the west; by State Route 520 and Interlaken Park to the north; by E. Pike and E. Madison Streets to the south; and by 23rd and 24th Avenues E. to the east
- Area Resources:
- Government Website: www.seattle.gov/tour/capitol.htm
- Capitol Hill Blog: www.blog.capitolhillseattle.com
- Capitol Hill Block Party: www.capitolhillblockparty.com
- Volunteer Park Contact:
- Location: 1247 15th Ave E, Seattle
- Phone: 206-684-4075
- Website: www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=399