Seattle often occurs on lists. Of different kind. I am sure the one the city takes most pride in is Most Livable City in the U.S. according to Forbes. 2015 Seattle was ranked nr. 6, but has had higher numbers earlier on. The list of Worst Traffic might leave the city in shame though, nr. 7.
Now, for the first time, Seattle ranks in the Top Ten for population density. With 7,962 people per square mile in 2014, Seattle leapfrogged Baltimore into the No. 10 spot among the 50 most populous cities in the country. Seattle’s population density has increased by nearly 10 percent since the 2010 Census. And if current growth rates continue, Seattle will bypass No. 9 Los Angeles within five years. Here is the list:
- Nr 1 New York City 28,056 (per square mile)
- Nr 2 San Fransisco 18,187
- Nr 3 Boston 13,586
- Nr 4 Miami 11,997
- Nr 5 Chicago 11,959
- Nr 6 Philadelphia 11,635
- Nr 7 Washington DC 10,793
- Nr 8 Long Beach, Calif. 9,416
- Nr 9 Los Angeles 8,383
- Nr 10 Seattle 7,962
Now, is this a good thing? Well, it depends on who you ask. Worst Traffic, bad, that’s something nobody is arguing against. Most Livable, yes, that’s a nice thing. Population Density, somewhat unclear.
Looking at the Seattle map, Capitol Hill is the most populated. Still, the area is mostly true to it’s modern origin. Old beautiful brick walk-ups, may be four stories, garden apartments at the lowest level, the neighborhood fabric is wonderful. You can walk to the grocery store, there are parks nearby. That’s some of the densest part in the city, yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s very human-scale. The densest part of Capitol Hill packs in about 55,000 people per square mile — actually comparable to Greenwich Village in New York.
The fastest growing area in Seattle is South Lake Union, and we all know who to blame. Amazon. Invading a sleepy warehouse and small business area transforming it to a crowded glass and steel construction. That’s the general opinion, which makes it ok to to say density is a bad thing.
Then again, we have neighborhoods like Madrona which needs people to make it’s little center going. That’s where I stayed my second visit in Seattle summer 1995, and I loved the cafés, the barber shop and the cute restaurants on 34th Avenue, all in walking distance. But of course you need a loyal crowd for the business to work.