Ever since the pioneers first came ashore there in 1851, Seattle's Alki area has drawn people to its beaches and its views of Puget Sound...

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Ever since the pioneers first came ashore there in 1851, Seattle’s Alki area has drawn people to its beaches and its views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay.

Today the neighborhood is more popular than ever. New condominiums line Harbor Avenue, and a string of restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and hangouts lure visitors from all over Seattle. Especially during the summer, the beachfront resembles Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana.

But underneath is a traditional neighborhood with deep roots in the city’s history. Much of it is on display at the Log House Museum, which celebrates the site as the “birthplace of Seattle.”

A walk through Alki, from Harbor Avenue on the east side of the Duwamish Peninsula to Alki Point on the west, reveals contrasts. What once was a picturesque hodgepodge of small houses, cabins and beach bungalows is slowly yielding to blocks of five-story condominiums.


Alki



This West Seattle neighborhood and its popular beach draw residents and visitors alike.

Population: 20,590

Schools: Alki Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Pathfinder K-8 School, Madison Middle School, Schmitz Park Elementary.

Housing: Owner occupied, 56.6%; renter occupied, 39.6%; vacant, 3.8%

Nearby medical facilities: Harborview Medical Center

Shopping: West Seattle Farmers Market (May to Dec.), California Avenue Southwest and Southwest Alaska Street

Public facilities: Alki Beach Park, Mee Kwa Mooks Park, Schmitz Preserve Park, Hiawatha Playfield

News researcher Miyoko Wolf

Houses and condos fetch huge prices. One 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom condo is on the market for $660,000. A nearby duplex of 2,200 square feet is listed at $900,000. And a new four-bedroom, four-bath house is priced at $1.6 million.

In the summer, one of biggest problems residents face is a lack of parking. After visitors fill spaces nearest the beach, they begin searching the residential streets for parking places.

The popularity of the beach also has affected the mix of businesses serving the community.

Peter Jones, who runs a small accounting business from a house half a block from the beach, said more service-oriented businesses — including a grocery, pharmacy and bike shop — have given way to restaurants, which can afford the higher rents that come with higher demand.

Jones’ landlord, Tom Lin, wants to build a hotel on Alki Avenue between 58th and Marine avenues southwest. Some residents, like Jones, believe a hotel would be good for the neighborhood, but many others are opposed. A survey conducted by the Alki Community Council found that of 93 respondents, 29 favored the hotel, 59 opposed it and 5 were undecided.

It would be at least two years before the hotel would be built, Lin said. In the meantime, the lot is the site of a weekend market that opened April 30.