Light Rail connects this established community of modest homes and a busy small business district to downtown and beyond.

Share story

Population: 3,937

Location: This oddly shaped neighborhood is bordered roughly by Cheasty Boulevard South, then Beacon Avenue South to the west; South Winthrop Street to the north; 48th Avenue South to the east; and South Dawson Street to the south.

Why people move to this neighborhood: Columbia City is a historic and recently trendy neighborhood with a tight-knit and diverse community in the Rainier Valley in southeast Seattle. It’s filled with modest homes; busy plazas; a large park and playfield; and a small business district along Rainier Avenue South that’s home to quaint family-owned cafes, funky vintage shops, art galleries, a nearly-100-year-old theater and a well-known used-bike shop. Link light rail runs vertically through the neighborhood and connects residents to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington campus to the north, SeaTac Airport to the south and points in between.

Distance from downtown Seattle: About 4.5 miles, 15 minutes by car without traffic

School district: Seattle Public Schools

Major employers: Darigold, Pepsi Beverages Company of Seattle, VA Puget Sound Health Care System

Housing: Modest single-family homes, many in midcentury and Craftsman styles, along with some midcentury and a few modern apartment and condominium buildings.

Walk score (out of 100): 80

Transit score (out of 100): 59

Bike score (out of 100): 55

Historical facts: It took two years in the late 19th century to build the seven-mile stretch of railroad tracks from the new city center to the site of today’s Columbia City. In the years since its completion, the small town has built a small lumber mill, followed by a strong marketing effort to draw in more residents. Developers called the town “Columbia City” after Christopher Columbus in an attempt to “link their town to greatness.”

Recreation: The Rainier Playfield on the neighborhood’s eastern edge is its largest easily accessible park, offering basketball and tennis courts, football and softball fields, and a play area, along with a view of the mountain for which it was named. The Rainier Community Center just next door is the second-largest community center in the state and hosts a bevy of events and programs for the public. On the other side of that are the lower Genesee Playfields, also with open, grassy fields, as well as paths and picnic areas. Most businesses, including grocery and department stores, are located along Rainier Avenue South, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. Columbia Park provides a quiet, pocket green space with small paths near the neighborhood’s center.

Zillow Home Value Index: $437,000 (as of Feb. 2016)

Zillow Rent Index: $2,225 (as of Feb. 2016)

The Zillow Home Value Index is the median Zestimate valuation for a given geographic area on a given day. The Zillow Rent Index is the monthly median rent Zestimate.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau,,, Zillow