An alarming number of Yankee fans were at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to watch a thrilling extra-innings win by the Mariners of New York Alki.


In 1851, the Denny party landed on today’s Alki Point. Most of them relocated to the future site of Pioneer Square the next spring. But Charles Terry remained and dubbed the site “New York,” appending “Alki,” from Chinook jargon for “by and by.”

Seattle isn’t the Big Apple, but it has come a long way by and by, and it was founded in today’s West Seattle. This even though it’s a place many Seattleites don’t think about except for stories about the West Seattle Bridge troubles and repairs, or Alki Beach, where the Seafair Pirates land.

But we need to get out more to the peninsula southwest of Elliott Bay.

Nearly one-fifth of the city’s population lives there, according to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. It boasts 10 varied residential neighborhoods and seven business districts, along with parks, restaurants and arts venues. It’s served by the Westside Seattle news site (merged with West Seattle Herald) and the West Seattle Blog.

West Seattle is no competitor to the city’s traditional economic workhorse of downtown. Anecdotal evidence makes it difficult to separate how much the pandemic hurt businesses there compared with the effects of the bridge troubles. But the area isn’t heavy on offices and hotels, as is the case downtown.


Vicki Stevens, a friend who lives there, described West Seattle as having “a special vibe as a homey small town. It is a city in a city but still close to downtown. You don’t feel cut off because it is a short water taxi ride right into downtown Seattle. It is different because it has everything, the water views, arts, theater, restaurants and shopping. So, you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to.

“The other thing is that people who grew up in West Seattle tend to stay here. There are families who have been here for generations because they love it so much,” Stevens said. “It is a tight-connected community.”

A reader tells me, “At one time in my early adulthood, I lived [in] and owned several homes in West Seattle …. It is everything that Queen Anne once was, but more. Two high schools. In the ’80s pre-kids both my wife and I met with a whole bunch of folks in bars there. The Husky Deli is the best deli in the city, maybe the West Coast.”

The deli is still there, in the heart of West Seattle.

“Alki beach is fun,” the reader added. But “Whoever wants to allow for multistory development at the expense of single-family homes should be drawn and quartered. Let them develop Spokane or Wenatchee or Burien or Federal Way.”


Maybe. But others want to add density. A five-story apartment building is planned for 18th Avenue Southwest close to White Center and others would likely follow. But this is south of the single-family-house-dominated part of the peninsula.

People admit the area has suffered because of the bridge troubles, but West Seattle’s fight against isolation goes back decades. The first telephone in the region was demonstrated between Seattle and West Seattle in 1878, and ferry service began 10 years later.

In the early part of the 20th century, it enjoyed streetcar service. In 1937, a streetcar jumped the tracks and fell into West Seattle’s Avalon Ravine, killing two passengers.

Seattle annexed West Seattle in 1907. In 1910, the city established a branch library there.

However, the Seattle Transit Blog points out West Seattle was left out of the rapid-transit lines proposed in the 1968 Forward Thrust vote (the federal government would have paid for most of the project, but it failed to achieve the 60% voter approval necessary). West Seattle would have been consigned to bus service.

Sound Transit wants to build a light-rail line via a tunnel to West Seattle by 2032, but the completion date might be pushed back. Low ridership projections may scuttle the project entirely unless the city presses for more density, something that hasn’t happened.


Some have proposed a high-capacity gondola, which would be cheaper and faster to build, but it’s not being considered by anyone with influence.

My colleague Mike Lindblom, who covers transportation, told me, “It requires far more two-seat rides, transfers, waiting in line to board and [is] bad social equity for people in the White Center and Delridge areas to catch a gondola mid-route. That doesn’t mean the Sound Transit board, consultants or staff have any monopoly on wisdom, however. They are proposing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s not a gondola.”

My two cents: We need a bias for action to build light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, especially with the pro-infrastructure Biden administration. This is true however the post-pandemic normal turns out for downtown offices.

The trains were packed coming and going to the baseball game, a reminder that Seattleites ride convenient transit (and note to Mayor Harrell: Undo the Durkan blunder and build the First Avenue Streetcar).

However city and transportation planners increase access to West Seattle, whether it be trains, gondolas, or bridges that work, it is worth checking out. You won’t be disappointed.