Our Belltown is an interview project created to celebrate the variety of voice and experience in our Belltown community.  

Read some of our local residents stories below — or check out our @belltownunited Instagram. 

And, if you would like to share your story with Belltown United please send a note to info@belltownunited.com 


I feel that my business is a bit niche. And so in some ways, we aren't as dependent on any given neighborhood, except that Belltown has been a good place for us because it's been fairly central for the services we offer...I feel like the location for our businesses is prime.  I think, from a community perspective, things like the Belltown Artwalk, really highlighting the amount of art and creativity that is happening, that kind of gets pushed under the surface a lot. And our neighborhood I feel has really started to rise to the top like, I feel like we're all kind of the cream, and we're like slowly rising to the top. And that's my my favorite part of the neighborhood, there's just so much possibility"


When I first moved here, Belltown was kind of how it is now with lots of small independent businesses, which is super nice. But you know, that was 23 years ago -- and a lot has changed. But is is actually still a really cool place to just hang out, listen to music, play shuffleboard at the lava lounge. Many of the small businesses have either turned over or changed names (or they've closed and so the pandemic) but even through that hard time were connected to each other. I really think that's what's special about Belltown is that the business owners are just really want to uplift one another"


I've been frequenting Belltown since I was old enough to come down here and enjoy this wonderful vibrant scene. But, I would say that I had a bit of a blind eye to some of the challenges that Belltown was experiencing and still is with respect to public safety, vandalism, open air drug use. It really I had an awakening in September 2020 (right in the middle of the pandemic), everything was at its worse. But that's when I started, We Heart Seattle to be part of a solution by taking some action. And so it's kind of hard for me to compare, it was so great in the 90s, it was a great 10 years ago, and I'd say it's still great. I just think that they're the challenges that our community is facing can be resolved through community response"


Let's see I've lived in Belltown since, oh, gosh, since 1999. I love it. It's it's really just a small community. Although I know it's the it's the densest part of the city. I think originally, [the community] was much closer in terms of community, you know, it, it has gotten really dense. And I think a lot of people move in and now and don't recognize it for the community that it is. And don't take advantage of some of the things such as the Artwalk, or the first Friday, wind shear, and things like that, that would introduce them to how really nice a community that it is"


There is such a camaraderie among people who own small businesses in Belltown. I mean, we really all see each other and take care of each other and there really is a community that comes out to support. It would be easy to think there's some sort of competition where people are vying for attention or clientele, but I really enjoy the other businesses around or they are our clientele and vice versa. That's one of the wonderful things about it is that we've just had so much support and encouragement, particularly bars and restaurants in this area. Really, it's almost feel like we couldn't have done it without their support. So, thank you to everybody that runs a restaurant or a bar in Belltown, you guys have been fantastic."


I first settled out here back in 1988 and it was a total different Seattle. I mean, the city was almost like a box, where nothing really filtered -- different from what we have today inundated with drugs and homelessness.  But being in a northwest, it was always about outside people never really respecting this area, they thought Seattle was just grunge and Nirvana, you know, plaid shirt wearing stereotypes, especially when grunge took off....and today people are working so hard, and they want a little bit more quality. And [Belltown] has that, you know, whatever mood you're in, you can just walk out of your door, and it will exceed your expectation"


“Moving here a decade ago was really fun, but it really looks different now, because the pandemic changed [everything].  So it's the retail landscape has changed an the housing landscape has changed. I mean, this is a residential neighborhood. and it's really cool to see that so many people live here. And the businesses that working class gritty, I love that the arts community has really taken off, and now it's you know, more art centered, which is fabulous. And new groups of people [show up], just like with any city and you see the underbelly from time to time, but Belltown is kind of like our New York, it's raw, it's gritty, it's a little funky. And there are gems everywhere and you just kind of have to look a little harder"


I would say that the neighborhood has changed in a couple of ways, multiple projects that were just beginning, particularly along the battery corridor. They had just broken ground, you know those kinds of things. And so as we walk everywhere, to the pharmacy, to our hairstylist to my manicure and nail salon, we watch those projects go up and watch so many, vibrant citizens come into the downtown area and live and work here.  So that's been a substantive change. But, I would say, during COVID, we've had some real challenges and in the past year,  Bruce Harrell [mayor's office] has very quietly done a lot of things to get folks the help they needed, and into avenues and pathways for them to become, you know, successful again"


It's so clear here in Belltown, that the mentality here is rising tide lifts all ships, and from the bar that's directly beneath us to the other food places around the neighborhood. People have just gathered around us and supported us in ways I couldn't believe people bringing us food during our build out. It's been undeniable, we're so lucky to have this awesome community here in Belltown and I can't thank the neighbors and the business owners in this in this area enough, it's amazing to open up a restaurant. -- within your first three weeks, you've already got regulars, every single week without failure, and they're still coming in today. I just think about how lucky we are to have people who are who are that engaged with us"


Belltown is not a very safe place right now. There's a lot of crime really have to pay attention to when you're out walking. It didn't used to be that way. We'd walk down the street, we'd see our neighbors, you know, we'd sit and chat. Now it's like, go where you need to go. Keep an eye out, and then come, you know, come right back. I'm sorry to see a lot of the little shops being sold and high rises going in. It's really changing the flavor of of our neighborhood. I would like to see Belltown become a healthy, safe, invigorated area for commerce, where people could come and enjoy a good meal, go out to music, hear music and hopefully, once Belltown comes back, and it's safer and cleaner and healthier. We'll see more of that"


Well the community is supportive, but I would say that you also have to make your own luck in Belltown. I had to speak up and pursue things nothing landed in my lap. I would say it was just luck. But I also did make my luck and made the most of all the opportunities that came through. I'm not sure that others in Belltown are able to get what they need. I think that's not just a condition in Belltown. But all the way up and down the Northwest, we have behavioral health problems, addiction, mental health problems, you know, things are just falling apart economically. And so some of those people can't be housed and can't be helped for reasons that I am not an expert to explain, I think sometimes it's better to be lucky than good"


Belltown stands out to me as somebody who has lived in Seattle since 1990.  To me it's part of downtown are the Center City that feels connected to the central business district, but is a residential neighborhood with long term community members who see this part of downtown as their neighborhood. I love working in Belltown, I love my walk commute through Belltown to get to my office every day, because it feels like a real neighborhood. It is a real neighborhood with a large number of people who live here and care about the businesses and sidewalks that I'm walking on. You can just feel it when you walk through the neighborhood and go into the businesses"


This is a great opportunity for us because Seattle and Belltown is a coffee capital. And this is a great place to work for coffee business. And so it's not widely selling coffee, but interacting with the customer who has very good idea about coffee and serving them a really good coffee. So that's our goal. And so this special, we want to introduce our coffee to the best coffee drinker in the world. And the coffee business is very competitive. And we learn from our competition, and we learn from our customers. So it's like life is never ending learning process. So it's very interesting. We like being here. Yeah, that's keeps on, keep going. And we are really happy to be here"


“I want us to get a lot more independent stores coming in here. I want to see the integrity of Belltown maintained, I don't want to just have storefronts, and then have this extension of a really tall, modern building. I feel like the essence of Belltown is being lost and we're taking away all these great historical brick buildings. I think if we take care of this, it's somewhere where people will gravitate it because it looks different from everywhere else. I mean, you look at Boston, you don't think about the high rises, you think about the market you think about around the common and all these old buildings and historical places -- and if you keep these little things you'll get more support, as in a community"


“My first impression has been extremely good. I’m very impressed with the way I've been treated here. It's made me feel so welcomed. It's been a long time since I've had just a really good feeling, weight lifted off my shoulders, a smile on my face and people I don't even know saying, 'hey, welcome. I haven't seen you around, and welcome.  [Belltown] has been so impressive to me... I'm just basically looking to get back on my feet and get going, and I'm seeing a lot more potential here of doing that. I've had a lot, job offer wise, and I'm just dwindling it down to what I can do, and what is going to offer me full time so I can survive and keep going."

Our Belltown is created by Belltown United filmmaker Tatyana Kurepina with support from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON).