Seattle’s Most Central Neighborhood is… the Central District

When it comes to “location, location, location,” the Central District is poised to outperform many of Seattle’s best neighborhoods for walkability, connectivity, and mobility.

by Eva Otto

88 Walk Score


With a Walk Score of 88, the Central District (taken from 120 20th Avenue) ranks higher than many areas of Ballard, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Ravenna.

For the newbies, Walk Score assigns a numeric value to the time and effort required to walk, ride, or travel. The higher the score, the more desirable the location. For example, Seattle’s Walk Score is 71 while Dallas’ is 44, and New York City’s is 88. So, if you’re want to walk more, drive less, and ride your bike to the Farmer’s Market, think twice about moving to Dallas. If you want the walkability and ease of New York City, the Central District in Seattle has the same Walk Score as New York, 88.

The Nitty Gritty Rather Pretty, Image courtesy Devin Smith. Creative Commons

From the Central District, 20 minutes in a car takes you father, faster. 20 minutes to get from there to Bellevue, SeaTac, Fremont, or Alki Beach. It’s also a 10 minute drive from the Central District to the University of Washington.

Walk Score from 120 20th Ave

Commuting to downtown Seattle take five minutes in a car, seventeen on a bus, and eight minutes on a bike. Go ahead and try to be late.

Google Maps, Central District to Bellevue

Some notable road and infrastructure improvements are also underway. The Central Area Greenways Project is building safer, more efficient and accessible corridors for all road users. And soon, nearby street cars will transport passengers from ‘links’, at First Hill, Jackson St., and Yesler Terrace to South Lake Union by way of the Waterfront.



With physical mobility and proximity to social and economic resources comes increased social and economic mobility. Take for example, the impact of estimated new jobs in the neighborhoods or the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace.

Yesler Terrace encompasses 4.3 million square feet of housing in 5,000 units, and 1,800 subsidized homes for low and moderate-income residents. The graph below shows the location of 120 20th Avenue as a red circle. The green bars represent the amount of new jobs from 2010–2030.

 Projected Job Growth 2010-2030, City of Seattle Data from DRiVE

Pioneering projects such as the HacktheCD (see GeekWire’s article for the full story) and the 23rd Avenue Action Plan are vital community development catalysts for the neighborhood.

.Urban Design Study for 23rd Avenue Action Plan, SRG Partnership

HacktheCD’s model seeks to “incubate new businesses, advance research, and create scalable models that help historically underserved communities around the world thrive in the 21st century.”

The 23rd Avenue Action Plan, is a city-community collaboration to create “a shared vision and action plan to improve the health and equity” of three Central Area hubs — 23rd and East Union, 23rd and East Cherry, and 23rd and South Jackson. The committee, led by City of Seattle, Senior Planner, Quanlin Hu recently published its final draft, that outlines the comprehensive and inspiring vision for the area. The admirable plan represents the participation of over 600 people from people with a varying ages, ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Another key initiative is the Comprehensive Plan, signed on May 15, 2015, which codifies the City of Seattle’s commitment to race and social equity as a foundational value in development.

With Seattle’s unprecedented economic growth spurt, so too, has its approach to community and neighborhood development. Many of the values unique to the sharing economy are in process at the community level. The emphasis is to emerge from silos and “connect” people, share resources, and rally behind the character of the community and the City.

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