For the Seattle area, the previous decade was a period of tremendous change, but some neighborhoods were affected by it much more than others.
Where were some of the most dramatic transformations?
To find out, I compared newly released data for King County census tracts with the comparable census numbers from 2010, focusing on a handful of demographic factors.
Here are the standout neighborhoods.
Population and income: South Lake Union/Denny Triangle (Seattle)
You’d be hard pressed to find a neighborhood metamorphosis in any U.S. city that compares with Seattle’s South Lake Union/Denny Triangle. Before Amazon consolidated its headquarters here in 2010, this area was, for the most part, a sea of parking lots, light industrial buildings and empty sidewalks.
For the census tract that covers the western half of the neighborhood, the population increased from about 3,900 at the start of the decade to 10,400 in the most recent data — an increase of 169%. (The eastern half of the neighborhood grew by 114%, not too shabby either.)
As a point of comparison, Seattle’s overall population increased by 23%. Other Seattle city neighborhoods with the highest population growth include: Lower Queen Anne, High Point in West Seattle, central Ballard and Capitol Hill from Broadway to 15th Avenue East.
South Lake Union/Denny Triangle didn’t just get bigger — it also got richer. A lot richer. In fact, the eastern half of the neighborhood ranked among the 10 poorest in 2010, with a median household income of $30,300. In the most recent data, income has more than tripled to $100,300. It now ranks among the top third for median household income.
College graduates: Georgetown (Seattle)
Fast-rising incomes are one indicator of urban renewal and gentrification in a neighborhood, but there are others. A sudden influx of people with college degrees is also a telltale sign.
No neighborhood saw a more dramatic increase in highly educated residents than funky little Georgetown in South Seattle, right next to busy Boeing Field. With nearly constant air traffic overhead, the neighborhood resisted gentrification for many years. Not anymore.
At the start of the decade, just 14% of Georgetown residents aged 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the new data, that’s increased to 45%.
Other signs of gentrification in Georgetown: The median household income has increased by more than 70%, and nearly half of the homes are owner-occupied, up from 29% in 2010.
Tech workers: Crossroads/Lake Hills (Bellevue)
If you live in some parts of Central Seattle, it may seem like every other person works in tech. But in one census tract in the Crossroads/Lake Hills section of Bellevue, that really is the case.
In this area — just a stone’s throw from the Microsoft campus and close to downtown Bellevue — more than half (52%) of the full-time employed population works in a computer-related field, up from 21% in 2010. That’s the biggest increase of any King County neighborhood.
(In case you’re wondering, in South Lake Union, 30% of full-time employed residents work in tech jobs.)
This neighborhood has a large population of immigrants from Asia. In fact, about two out of three residents here are foreign-born, the highest percentage of any census tract in King County.
Children: Kitts Corner (Federal Way)
The Seattle area has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that one of the county’s more affordable places to live has seen the biggest increase in residents under age 18.
In the Kitts Corner section of Federal Way, just north of the Pierce County border, children were 12% of the population in 2010. In the new data, that number has increased to 29%. The child population grew by about 900, bringing this area’s median age down by 5 years since the start of the decade.
At the other end of the spectrum, Seattle’s South Beacon Hill could be called the county’s “empty nest” capital. The under-18 population has declined by half since 2010 in this residential neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. In fact, in fast-growing Seattle, South Beacon Hill’s population has dropped by 25%, primarily because of its loss of children.
“Green” commuters: Downtown Bellevue
In a recent column, I wrote about the sharp decline in drive-alone commuters among Seattle city residents. But as it turns out, one census tract in fast-growing downtown Bellevue tops them all in this category.
This area, north of Bellevue Square, almost matched South Lake Union for total population growth. But even more impressive is the increase in “green” commuters — in other words, folks who get to work by transit, walking, carpooling, biking or any other means more environmentally friendly than driving alone. In 2010, 29% of employed residents were “green” commuters. In the most recent data, they make up the solid majority, at 57%.
More than one in four workers who live in this part of Bellevue walk to work on a typical day. And the number of residents who use transit increased by more than fivefold since 2010.