Columbia City is a neighborhood in the Rainier Valley area of southeast Seattle. It is best known for being a historic district, and one of the few parts of Seattle with genuine ethnic and income diversity (some claim that its zip code, 98118, is one of the most diverse in America) and for being an extremely walkable and transit-oriented "urban village."
Its main thoroughfares are Rainier Avenue S. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. (north- and southbound) and S. Alaska Street (east- and westbound). The surrounding blocks are mostly single-family homes, in many cases older craftsman bungalows, with a handful of low-income apartment buildings and more expensive new townhouses and condos. On the ridge above the business district, where views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains are common, many new expensive homes have been built, and many smaller homes have been expanded and updated. This area is part of a swath of often extremely expensive homes with lake views.
The New York Times recently wrote, "Columbia City still feels like a microcosm of the city itself, a gumbo of art galleries, bike shops, yoga studios and butchers where it’s easier to find homemade tamales or good pulled pork sandwich than a macchiato."
Efforts are underway to extend bike lanes into the neighborhood and slow traffic to safer speeds on Rainier Avenue. Work has already begun on a series of sidewalk improvements. The community is served by the Columbia City Link Light Rail station (approximately 18 minutes from downtown Seattle), and several Metro bus lines, including the 7, 8, 9, 39, and 42.