Seattle is getting denser but nowhere near the tightly packed cities of New York, San Francisco or Boston, as these maps show. Also: A Mercer Island seafood seller readies an expansion into other locally produces foods.
We all know Seattle is packing in lots more people. In fact, Seattle — one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities — has climbed up to 10th in the rankings of major U.S. cities with the highest population density.
And yet, for all the consternation about Seattleites living on top of each other, we’re practically a sprawled-out suburb compared to other top-tier cities across the country and the world.
A clever set of new maps produced by the website SpareFoot, which writes about real estate and other topics, uses census data on population and land area to illustrate just how spread out Seattle is by big-metropolis standards.
It shows that if you take the density of cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston and apply it to Seattle’s 84 square miles, you could fit the entire Seattle population of 685,000 people in an area that makes up less than half the city map.
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In other places around the world, the comparison is even more dramatic. With the same density as Paris, Seattle could fit its entire population in downtown, South Lake Union and First Hill.
Here’s another way to look at it: If we had New York’s population density, the existing footprint of Seattle would hold 2.37 million residents. With San Francisco’s density, Seattle’s population would be 1.55 million. With the density of Paris, we’d have 4.62 million people living here.
Still, that’s comparing Seattle to the most jampacked cities. Looking more broadly, Seattle is nearly as dense as Los Angeles and similar to Baltimore and Oakland. And we’re considerably more condensed than Portland, which has a similar population to Seattle but is much more spread-out.
Unlike lots of big cities, Seattle is selectively dense. Almost two-thirds of the developed area in Seattle is reserved for detached single-family homes, according to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability report, with each plot of land typically being used by one household,
That hasn’t changed much during the city’s recent growth spurt. Instead, apartment buildings and towers have crowded into select areas in and around downtown and near transit lines where building taller is allowed by the city.
Mayor Ed Murray and his allies are trying to change laws to allow for more density in other neighborhoods that have traditionally been reserved largely for single-family homes. How those contentious efforts go — starting with the current fight over density in the U District — should determine whether Seattle grows up, or outward toward the suburbs.
Either way, Seattle is getting more crowded. In 2010, the city had 7,251 residents per square mile. In 2015, according to the most recent census data available, that figure jumped to 8,154 people per square mile, making it one of the fastest-densifying cities in the country.
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Market to focus on local products
While many grocery stores these day carry at least some local products, a new store on Mercer Island aims to make 75 percent of its goods local.
Bryce Caldwell, who has operated Freshy’s Seafood Market on Mercer Island since 2010, plans to open a broader store with organic produce, dairy, seafood and meat.
The 2,500-square-foot Freshy’s Local Market debuts on Feb. 9 at 2601 76th Ave. S.E. on Mercer Island.
Meats and seafood will almost entirely come from local fishers, while a local growers’ co-op will deliver produce, Caldwell said. Beers, dispensed into growlers from taps, wine and sake will come from Washington state.
It won’t be completely local. Caldwell learned, while running his seafood market, that customers want items such as ahi tuna, which he buys from Hawaii. And some loose-leaf vegetables will come from Northern California in the winter.
But 100 percent of his produce in the summer will be local and his goal for the store is to get to three-quarters local, he said.
Caldwell’s local focus comes in part from his own background growing up in Ilwaco, Pacific County, where his father was a commercial fisher and where he worked as a fisher in the summers.
Caldwell, 54, had drifted away from that, working for 25 years in the apparel industry. In 2010, after the closure of Asgi Shoes, where he was vice president of finance and operations, “I moved from selling shoes one day to selling crab the next,” he said.
He opened Freshy’s Seafood Market in an abandoned gas station in 2010. The market also has a dining area where it sells cooked items such as fish and chips and fish tacos.
The fresh seafood side of that operation will now move into Freshy’s Local Market, while the dining side will expand in its current location and be renamed Freshy’s Seafood Shack.
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