Belltown is home to a thriving retail and entertainment corridor featuring over 250 retail small business merchants, 50 major employers, 14,000+ units of housing, and 25,000 jobs. Growth also brings challenges related to people who need a home, displacement of small businesses and middle-income residents. To prosper during this growth, Belltown United provides a single, focused voice, coordinated advocacy, and a stronger community identity.
The Belltown neighborhood is part of Downtown Seattle, WA positioned approximately between Elliot Bay, Denny Way, 5th Avenue, and Stewart Street. It was named after William Nathaniel Bell, who originally owned the land, though he left the area in 1855. At first Belltown was isolated from the rest of Downtown because of Denny Hill, one of Seattle’s largest hills. This isolation resulted in low rent and underdeveloped economy in Belltown.
In 1892 Reginald Herber Thomson became Seattle’s city engineer. To achieve straight and level boulevards he leveled Denny Hill, thus connecting Belltown to the commerce of downtown. In came new businesses, followed by artists and musicians looking for low rent apartments. The movement of creatives to Belltown can be credited with the neighborhood’s trendy and boho spirit to this day.
In the early to mid 1900s Second Avenue in Belltown was known as “Film Row”. Zoning concerns over the flammability of film restricted theaters to single neighborhoods. The Rendezvous and The Crocodile Café are two of the iconic venues remaining from the age of “Film Row”.
Today Belltown is bustling with condos, boutiques, galleries, cafes, and trendy bars and restaurants. Outdoor highlights of the neighborhood include the Belltown P Patch, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and Cottage Park, the last wood framed residences in Seattle built in 1916.
Board of directors
Tom Graff, Board Chair
Chloe Martin, Board Co-Chair
Valerie Heide Mudra