Historic U District

Celebrating Our Cultural Legacy

The Historic Ave

Demolition is Forever 
Like natural resources, cultural resources are finite and once destroyed, are lost forever. The Ave is a worthy historic district and should be preserved as our 'main street'; so vital to our unique community.

High-rise buildings up to 20-30 stories are now open or under construction in the core area surrounding the Ave. With the first upzone in 2017, we negotiated a delay along The Ave to study its impacts to small businesses and the buildings that host them.

Maintaining the current building height limit of 65' along The Ave will preserve the human-scaled, vibrant environment that nurtures our unique small businesses, preserves our historic buildings, and reduces residential and commercial displacement.

The Ave became a commercial street after a trolley line was installed by pioneer David Denny in 1891, thus remaining pedestrian-oriented and accessible by horse and buggy. It became a compact and vital main street for the U District by the 1929 stock market crash.

At present, 80% of the buildings between NE 41st and 50th streets were built by 1930 or are otherwise significant. A historic district designation would help retain that streetscape while connecting pedestrians of all ages and abilities with living history.

With the opening of the U District light rail station in 2021, we have welcomed greater density, wishing only to complement it with a worthy destination for dining and entertainment.

Our community is pursuing a historic district designation for five blocks on The Ave from the National Register of Historic Places, to preserve one of Seattle's unique commercial streets. Your help will strengthen our application, so please consider signing our petition

Other Seattle neighborhoods already have protected commercial districts, like Ballard Avenue, Pioneer Square, Columbia City, and Pike Place Market.  Let's add The Ave and show how we can welcome growth while preserving the cultural legacy of our neighborhood for present and future generations to enjoy. 

Help us Save The Ave!
Please subscribesign our petitiondonate and volunteer to make it happen.

Thank you.

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Sign the Petition
Express your support of the Historic U District designation by signing our petition

Offer Feedback
Submit your comments and questions to the team at Historic U District

Other Historic Districts in Seattle

Since 1970, Seattle has established eight historic districts, three of which are featured below*:

Ballard Avenue

"Created by the Seattle City Council in 1976. Buildings throughout the District embody the distinctive characteristics of modest commercial architecture from the 1890s through the 1940s, creating a sense that the street is almost suspended in time."

Pike Place Market

"Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating and most historically authentic public market in the country. When the Market was threatened with demolition and replacement, citizens of Seattle voted in 1971 [to save it]."

Columbia City

"At its center is a 'village green' with a 1914 Andrew Carnegie library branch of the Seattle Public Library. The area preserves the small town atmosphere of its turn-of-the-century roots as a mill and railroad town. In 1978, Columbia City was designated a landmark district."
* IMPORTANT: Whereas the above historic districts have the limitations and protections afforded to city-designated historic districts, we are only applying for national and state level designations, which do not restrict what property owners may do with their buildings. It does, however, unlock lucrative financial tax incentives for property owners to maintain and restore their buildings, including for seismic retrofit. 
Stand with the Duwamish Tribe

Land Acknowledgement

We are compelled and humbled to acknowledge that the land on which the U District exists is the occupied territory of the coastal Duwamish, a people who provided stewardship of the land and water for generations before us. We also sincerely appreciate this precious gift that they share their land and teachings with those of us who are settlers to this area.  

The Duwamish are a Lushootseed-speaking Native American people in western Washington, and the indigenous people of metropolitan Seattle, where they have been living since the end of the last glacial period (for at least four millennia). The Lake People among the Duwamish established a winter village at the mouth of Ravenna Creek (called Little Canoe Channel). Before removing to Lake Sammamish in the 1880s, “Indian Jim” Dzakwús lived at an encampment near the foot of Brooklyn Avenue NE along a small stream (Croaking) originated in a frog pond at the corner of NE 45th Street and the Ave. There was a trail from this encampment to Union Bay and Little Canoe Channel. 

Apart from posts from a fishing weir in the marsh that is now University Village, no Native remains have been uncovered in the district. The first Euro-Americans to settle in the area were Christian and Harriet Brownfield at Pioneer Farm, the quarter-section between 5th and 15th Avenues, NE south of NE 45th Street, in 1867.

U District Tops List of Ranked Neighborhoods

Here’s why: neighborhoods with a mix of home prices are three times more likely to be walkable and have highly rated schools than are purely affordable neighborhoods. The University District in Seattle has a Walk Score of 98, highly rated schools, and a balanced mix of home prices. ​

“I chose the U District when I was able to buy a condo after decades of living here, precisely because of its eclectic and unique charms. There’s genuine community here that, if nurtured, will make it the best neighborhood in Seattle, even as it grows up.”

— William, a resident


Collaborating with The Unity Museum, with funding from 4Culture of King County, the U District Advocates serves as our fiscal sponsor.
U District Advocates
Unity Museum

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