This article appears in print in the March 2020 issue, as part of the "Best Neighborhoods" cover story. Click here to subscribe.
Home to the Space Needle and a host of other treasures from the 1962 World’s Fair, Lower Queen Anne has carved out an identity at the intersection of optimistic futurism and historical staying power. For busy, career-driven Seattleites who refuse to sacrifice livability in exchange for a quick commute downtown or to nearby job hubs in South Lake Union and Interbay, it’s a prime place to make a home, even—maybe especially—for those looking to rent. Recent zoning changes now allow the construction of taller buildings in the neighborhood, a shift that’s already sparked the development of a number of new apartment buildings, bringing more accessibility to a neighborhood that’s already in demand.
Unlike South Lake Union and Interbay, both evolving Seattle neighborhoods recently born out of industrial areas, Lower Queen Anne offers the feel of an established city within a city. The neighborhood’s centralility, along with ample historical charm and a degree of commercial resilience, fosters a special blend of work-life balance. Transportation is a breeze: A number of buses run through the neighborhood center around the intersection of Mercer Street and Queen Anne Avenue North; it’s just a 30-minute walk to Pike Place Market; and you can even take the monorail from Seattle Center to downtown for transit with a view.
Saurabh Chaure, a 32-year-old software developer for Expedia Group, purchased his Lower Queen Anne condo in 2018 primarily for its proximity to his workplace in Interbay. “When you have to work late, it’s a no-brainer. You can just put in that extra time and still get home in 15 [or] 20 minutes,” Chaure says. “The work-life balance definitely helps,” he notes, describing the perks of having easy access to everything from multiple grocery stores to waterfront biking.
Old and new businesses sharing a section of Mercer Street. Photo by Hayley Young.
In addition, abundant bars and entertainment opportunities make it easy to orchestrate a last-minute date night or overdue catch-up session when you realize you haven’t seen your friends or significant other in way too long. Lower Queen Anne is the cultural heart of the city, after all, host to traditional and experimental theaters, museums and an independent cinema, among other offerings—the combination of which fuels a steady flow of patrons to sustain the area’s restaurants, cafés and shops.
In the bustling center of the neighborhood sits Mercer Street Books, a used-book shop in a storefront that’s been home to various booksellers for decades. Adjacent to the bookstore is the newly opened Paju, a Korean restaurant dishing out innovative seafood-focused cuisine. Nearby Metropolitan Market, the later incarnation of an independent grocery store originally founded on Upper Queen Anne in the ’70s, hums nearly around the clock just a few blocks from KeyArena, a city landmark undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation to accommodate Seattle’s new professional hockey team, set to debut in 2021.
KEXP's radio headquarters and in-house La Marzocco Cafe. Photo by Alex Crook.
On the tree-lined streets that surround the heart of the neighborhood, homes from the early 1900s coexist with mid-century modern apartment buildings and sleek contemporary structures just blocks below the picturesque 19th-century mansions that characterize Upper Queen Anne. Down here, at the nexus of old and new visions of Seattle, the views are still worth celebrating—whether you score an apartment offering a peek of Elliott Bay or wind up gazing out over a bustling neighborhood in flux.
Best for: Discerning workaholics (i.e., career-driven Seattleites who want a short downtown commute with all-inclusive neighborhood amenities)
Typical home value: $732,907
Typical rent: $2,467
Walk Score: 92
Arts and Culture: On the Boards, SIFF Uptown Cinema, McCaw Hall and Seattle Center’s Festál, a series of cultural festivals held throughout the year.
Food and Drink: KEXP’s studio headquarters, which is also home to La Marzocco Cafe and Light in the Attic record store; Queen Anne Beerhall, with generous happy hours and an extensive draft menu; Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar, where sustainable shellfish is served in an elevated casual environment.
Data in the Neighborhood Snapshot sidebars was gathered from Zillow’s data public relations team (home price, rent) and (neighborhood walkability)