Out at Night in Belltown

If you spend any time with the people who live, work, or hang out in Belltown, you'll figure out quick that there's more to this arts and nightlife community than simply the cluster of bars and restaurants that you see passing by. For decades, Belltown has been a haven for artists, musicians, and working people from every corner of the globe.

Music legends like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and others were often birthed in the basements of Belltown, some of which have since turned into bars and music venues.

Sitting in the heart of a triangle formed by Pike Place Market, the Seattle Center, and the Amazon Campus, Belltown is a crossroads of culture, class, and people.

The long gritty history of Belltown has fostered an eclectic diversity of bars, restaurants, live music, arts space, and small businesses.

But perhaps the most enduring legacy of its past is that Belltown has become a home to genuine, real-world communities. People like to say in Belltown that "every bar is a Cheers bar" and for the most part they wouldn't be wrong. With a disproportionate number of bar and restaurant owners who themselves came from the service industry, it's maybe understandable when the bars on the Block are still full of regulars on a snowy Sunday night in the dead of winter.

As part of our community efforts to showcase how critical it is to have communities like Belltown in the heart of our city we sometimes interview tourists that we've discovered lounging in the patio spaces on the block.

Q1. Why are you in Belltown?

A. Visiting from DC, and we just got finished being touristy at the Space Needle, and wanted something authentic, so we came here. If I lived in Seattle, this is where I would come.

Q2. Favorite thing about Belltown?

A. I'm very much evaluating Seattle for a move, in the next year. Belltown is where I would feel the most home. These would be my people. It's quirky. It's cool. Everyone one of these bars here, we think hey, maybe we'd wanna go into this one too. This is my energy.

Q3. What's your message for the Mayor and Council about Belltown?

A. As someone who's a tourist, and a prospective new resident, it would be stupid to change this. This place is what I was attracted to. This is what brought me here. Don't f*ck it up. If I get back here, and it's all a bunch of high rises, it isn't gonna feel like home. If you wanna have a city that welcomes everyone, you can't just have high rises.

Q1. Why are you in Belltown?

A. I landed at the Seattle airport and drove up to Seattle with my co-worker. Went to that market down there cause it's famous... And I shit you not, within 20 minutes of talking to locals, they were like "you gotta go to Shorty's. It's an institution and you gotta see it while it's still there." So I've been in Seattle for ten hours, and six of that I've been playing pinball and talking to people finding out what makes Seattle interesting, and where I should go.

Q2. Favorite thing about Belltown?

A. You wanna talk about what makes a city interesting, and gives it character.. Character is defined by age and experience. You walk in here an you can feel the texture. It's in the walls. I've been living in Scotland for the past five years, and there everything is a thousand years old. It's rare to find a place in America that can hold a candle to that kind of thing.. with character and community. So when you find it it has an impact. What I love about Belltown... I don't wanna be to philosophical, but human beings are a tribal species.

In the last six hours, not five minutes have gone by without somebody I was sitting with taking to, saying hi to somebody walking by, BY NAME. Which is INSANE for a city this size. You don't get that in New York London Glasgow Edinburgh Paris Rome, F*ck! ANYwhere! Name a f*ckin city, it doesn't happen. I've been traveling all my life, and I've never experienced anything like what I've experienced sitting on this chair. It makes me wanna move here! There's always someone within arms reach that you know and have a relationship with.

Q3. What's your message for the Mayor and Council about Belltown?

A. So first... go f*ck yourself if you ruin this place. Second.. and less vulgarly. It should not be incumbent upon the people who make your city great, to maintain your city FOR you. They're already producing the commodity that brings people to your city: the history, the love, the community, the character. They've paid their dues by putting in the work that creates the environment that you have the honor of governing. It's your job to protect them. Not let them drown.

You can follow @RiseUpBelltown on Instagram for regular updates, or sign-up for our periodic email updates. This post was written by Rise Up principle organizer Evan Clifthorne, with help from the members of the Belltown Oversight and Advisory Team. If you'd like to help shape these blog posts, we'd love to hear from you! :)