The University District (commonly called the U District) is a neighborhood in Seattle, so named because the main campus of the University of Washington (UW) is located there. The UW moved in two years after the area was annexed to Seattle, while much of the area was still clear cut forest or stump farmland. The district of neighborhoods grew with the university to become like a smaller version of urban American cities.
The University District is bounded on the west by Interstate 5, on the east by 25th Avenue NE, on the south by the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and on the north by NE Ravenna Boulevard. It also includes, east of these boundaries, a small district on the north shore of Union Bay, bounded on the north by NE 45th Street and on the east by 35th Avenue NE. This extension consists mainly of the “east campus” and extensive parking lots of the University. Its main commercial street, University Avenue NE, otherwise known as “The Ave”, brings the heart of business and social establishments.
There is easy access to downtown via the University Bridge. The Montlake Bridge heads towards Highway 520 or Capitol Hill, and 45th and 50th Streets can access Interstate 5. Another arterial route is 15th Avenue, which runs north-south.
The University Village Shopping Center is on the northeast side of campus, with attractive “open-air” stores. The streets directly north of the university are lined with fraternities and residential housing, filled mainly with students and faculty. More housing lies to the northwest.
Ravenna Park, or half of it, lies in the U-District to the north. It is a 50 acre park with a wooded ravine and several amenities, including a play area, tennis court, wading pool, paths, and sporting fields. Another “park” lies on the west side, next to the interstate. The University Playfield, as it’s called, is around three acres and features a play area, tennis court, and sporting fields.
Some events that mark the neighborhood’s uniqueness are the street fair in May and farmer’s market. This was the first market to hit Seattle, which continues to be the largest local farmers’ event.
Even though the University District predominantly contains students, many in the Seattle community flock here for its diverse options in restaurants, music venues, and small businesses.