Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

12 responses to “Neighborhood Smackdown: Belltown vs. First Hill”

  1. softwarengineer

    Since I Don’t Really Care for City Road Clog With No Parking and Expensive Real Estate With Limited Listings

    Maybe a 3rd option? None of the above?

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  2. Erik

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1
    I moved to Capitol Hill and I pay a lot for parking. I think my bill will come to $250/mo. You may be better off where you are at. I moved to Capitol Hill because it looks like a pretty fun place and I want to buy my next place in this area because I believe that seattle really is going to San Fran prices.

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  3. Kary L. Krismer

    I used to live on First HIll. It’s nice if you are young or old, but not middle aged. I can’t imagine ever wanting to live in Belltown. About the only draw for me would be the view and being a bit closer to the Seattle Center.

    And yes, you need to own your own parking spot if you own a car–preferably one with some sort of door/gate to keep idiots from stealing your spot. Per they hypocrites of the Seattle City Council, parking boots are only okay if you don’t pay parking tickets, not if you’re a trespasser.

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  4. Ira Sacharoff

    First Hill and Belltown are more similar than different. Congested neighborhoods that are essentially downtown. My pick is neither, but if a loaded gun were pointed at my head and I had to pick, it would be First Hill, but the part not adjacent to the Harborview Psych ward. Belltown tore down most of their cool old buildings, and replaced them with tall new ones. Which are mostly bland and unimaginative. First Hill has a bunch of 3 or 4 story buildings from the 1920’s, which at least have personality.

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  5. wreckingbull

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3 – I just call Angle Grinder Man. Done, done and done.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3112670.stm

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  6. David B.

    Both are in a city that prioritizes building freeways and sports stadia ahead of transit and parks, so neither are that attractive to me.

    But, Belltown has to be one of the most overrated (and overpriced) neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest. I’d almost certainly be able to get something nicer for less in First Hill. Plus, per Ira’s observation, there’s more choice of options in First Hill, too. So, First Hill it is.

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  7. wreckingbull

    One more point that has not yet been discussed. Belltown is really two neighborhoods for the price of one. During the week, it is a busy, downtown neighborhood with ugly condos and decent food. On the weekends it is a borough stuffed to the gills with angry meatheads. Choose accordingly.

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  8. Blurtman

    The neighborhoods are synergistic. Get shot in Belltown. Get treated in First Hill.

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  9. Erik

    I think both places are great. Almost all of Seattle is pretty awesome and the eastside is nice too. It’s the other cities in washington that I dislike. The names of these cities will remain anonymous because the last thing I need is the goon squad attacking me again. I have learned to use kid gloves with them.

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  10. One Eyed Man

    My personal prejudice is that Ira’s right. Its a two way tie for last place. Jump into the Wayback Machine Sherman and I’ll take you on a trip to Belltown circa 1971 and First Hill circa 2001 to more or less explain how I acquired my unabashed prejudice.

    In the summer of 1971 I got laid off from my summer construction job and thru the UW placement office I picked up a job waiting on tables at the Queen City Tavern. It was truly a wino bar then, but now, post gentrification, its an upscale restaurant in the high rent district for rich retirees and yuppies. I think its the same place but I apparently incorrectly remembered the Queen City Tavern as being on 2nd and the Bar and Grill is on First.

    It was a couple days before the end of July when I got hired. The job only went for the first two weeks of August because the patrons would blow their government checks by the middle of the month and business in the last half of the month didn’t warrant extra help.

    I should have gotten hazardous duty pay. One night I had to kick a guy out who broke a beer bottle over the bar and threatened the guy next to him. Another night a drunk and literally toothless whore grabbed my crotch and said she just wanted to see if it was still there. I tried to get a very ill looking old man a bowl of soup to eat one afternoon and he said not to bother cause he couldn’t keep food down. Just like in Leaving Las Vegas, he said he was just waiting to die.

    Another patron was the local expert on working the government entitlement offices and people would drop by and buy him a drink for free advice on how to fix their entitlement problems. And then there was BoBo. BoBo was probably in his 40’s. He could barely walk and talk. He slept in the gutter and urinated and defecated in his pants. He would come in the door and we’d stop him immediately because you could smell him 30 feet away. He’d say “BoBo want wine” and if he had to cash the bartender would give him a bottle of fortified rot gut wine and we’d usher him out the door. They said every month his family would come down and clean him up and get him a room but the next night he’d be sleeping in the gutter again.

    The irony for me is gentrification hasn’t made Belltown significantly more interesting or attractive at least on a per dollar basis. I didn’t want to live in Belltown before gentrification and I don’t want to live there in a post gentrification ant farm with prices starting at $500+/sq ft.

    As for First Hill, you might have a little more diverse citizenry, and the occasional historic structure with unique character, but about half the time when I’m there I find myself looking for the handle so I can flush it.

    My brother used to be a pharmacist at Harborview. One day a rather large, tough guy came in with his girl friend (probably for pain meds) and was upset at having to wait in line. He made some tough guy comments about how he shouldn’t have to wait and my brother pushed the silent alarm. The hospital security showed up and when they told him to wait his turn he mouthed off and made some cryptic sort of threats. They asked him to leave and he refused.

    One of the security people pulled their Taser and told him to leave or they would Tase him. He refused and the security person fired the Taser at the tough guy’s chest. Apparently one of the electrodes hit something in his clothing and didn’t make contact with his flesh. When the tough guy realized this he looked at the security people and began to laugh a menacing laugh. The other security guard immediately drew his Taser, pointed it at the guy’s crotch and fired. Mr. tough guy fell like a rock and jerked around on the floor like the security guard had just landed a tuna. Ironically just like BoBo in Belltown, the tough guy failed to contain himself.

    So in conclusion, as long as I’m lucid enough not to crap my pants, I’m just not comfortable that I’d fit in in Belltown or on First Hill.

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  11. Macro Investor

    Seattle was nice 25 years ago. Does anyone remember? It was about outdoor activities. It was laid back and polite. What happened to that — LA emptied out the trash and sent it north.

    Growth destroys quality of life. If you love a place, fight against growth or it won’t be a place worth loving for very long.

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  12. wreckingbull

    RE: Macro Investor @ 11 – I think the part I miss the most is how Seattle used to have an air of humility about it. This often manifested itself in politeness and kindness, as you note. Now it seems that all we want to do is try to tell the world how awesome we are.

    My dentist told me that he uses his custom-fit dental mouth guard when he sleeps, and when he drives to Seattle. I got a pretty good laugh out of that.

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