The University of Washington, with its 643-acre campus and 40,000-plus student population, is the elephant in the neighborhood: It dominates life in the quadrant east of I-5 and north of the Lake Washington Ship Canal up to Northeast 65th Street. The mix of businesses and restaurants, local employment and traffic patterns, high and low culture they are all affected by the presence of the “U-Dub.”
The retail and restaurant scene on University Way Northeast, “the Ave,” is not the scene old timers remember from decades ago. University Village is the place for that.
Yes, the Ave has street kids, as does Capitol Hill’s Broadway East. The University District’s social service outreach programs, mostly invisible to regular folk, constitute an alternative dimension to the local infrastructure. There are a number of good, committed people working to help others here.
Maybe nowhere else in the city, except in the Rainier Valley, would a chamber of commerce luncheon include members of such various backgrounds — clergy, University of Washington faculty, social service workers — with brick and mortar retailers, in an effort to form a more holistic approach to neighborhood issues.
The projected arrival of Link Light Rail in 2016 will connect the U-District with Capitol Hill and downtown, the Rainier Valley and Sea-Tac airport and mark a new phase in the neighborhood’s biography.
• Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture, UW campus, Northeast 45th Street and 17th Avenue Northeast. www.washington.edu/burkemuseum.Another one of those under-sung civic treasures.
• Henry Art Gallery, 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 41st Street on the University of Washington campus. The Henry has maintained a consistently high standard in the last several years. www.henryart.org