This afternoon as I was catching up on Facebook happenings, I saw a link to an article that peaked my interest, “America’s Most Diverse Neighborhood Shows the Way.” Yes, I’m interested in diversity but I’m more interested in the neighborhood in question – our neighborhood. That’s right people, a zip code in Seattle is considered the most diverse in the country. Surprising right? Well, not really.
We have noticed how the neighborhood has changed since we moved back to Seattle. There is a new Somali Community Center going up, lots of new West African stores and so many Caribbean restaurants popping up. Beyond that, 98118 has always been pretty diverse. When Italian and Greek families moved to Seattle in the 1950’s, they moved to Rainier Valley. The area around St. Edward’s Church used to be Little Italy in Seattle. The Seattle institution Borracchini's Bakery is still open and awesome after 87 years. In the 1980’s, the area had lots of Filipino and Vietnamese restaurants and stores and now they have been replaced by Thai stores and Mexican and Central American Restaurants.
I grew up in the 98118 zip code. I lived there until I was 16 years old and went to school in the heart of the area. When we moved to Queen Anne in high school, I missed 98118 – we all did. I went back every weekend to hang out with my family and friends who still lived there. My Mom still went back to the neighborhood to do all her shopping. She still does sometimes. When we moved back to my old neighborhood, I was excited. It’s where I grew up. Living there help make me who I am. For the record though, when I lived in the neighborhood, it wasn’t a trendy place to live. People didn’t know where Columbia City or Hillman City was and if they did, it' wasn’t for a good reason.
When I saw the article, I was proud. I am proud. I love that there are Synagogues, Mosques, a million Christian churches and about 4 Buddhist Temples within 5 minutes of our house. I love that people can still afford to live in my zip code. I love that on the bus I hear about 20 different languages in about 1 minute and best of all, most people on my bus can identify them all despite not being able to speak any of them. And the food. Chinese, Vietnamese, Caribbean, Soul Food, Pizza, Sushi, Italian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Cajun, Somali, Thai, Mexican and American Diner food all available within 7-10 minutes walk from us. And the best part? We live in Seattle. In the actual city. You can drive downtown in 15 minutes. 98118 has light rail, LEED certified buildings, historic neighborhoods and are home to some of the best basketball players Seattle has ever produced (Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Aaron Brooks, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Doug Christie).
I’m really glad Micah was open to moving to my old neighborhood. I’m not sure I’d want to live anywhere else in the city. Would you move back to the neighborhood you grew up in?