Still Funky After All These Years

Fremont

“We’re a quirky little lot.”

That’s Jessica Vets, executive director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, reinforcing what you thought you knew about the nabe’s notoriously funky folks. Except she’s not referring to nude bicyclists or guerrilla artists or people who dress up like a gorilla for kicks. She’s talking about the vein of creativity and diversity that runs through the population and the business district. In the last six months alone, Fremont has welcomed a new pie shop (creatively named Pie), a salsa dance studio (Salsa con Todo), and an upscale salon (Adele). Add that to an existing collection of tech titans (Adobe and Google) and creative types (Fremont Fine Arts Foundry), shake it up with a shot of booze (the forthcoming Fremont Mischief Distillery), and you’ve got a potent mix of uniquely Fremontian flavors.

Fans of Fremont’s commercial and artistic eclecticism (this is, after all, the home of the annual Solstice Parade) are so ardently supportive of the community’s current momentum, they’re coming from outside its borders to get involved. “There are a lot of people who call Fremont their home even though they don’t live here or work here,” Vets says. Maybe they’d like to live and work there but can’t afford to; rents and home prices remain high in the desirable section of Seattle just north of the ship canal. But whether they live there or not, they all seem to have the same goal: keeping Fremont weird.

Happily Hidden

Maple Leaf

It’s easy to overlook Maple Leaf. Wedged into the upper reaches of North Seattle and bordered to the south by destination nabes like Greenlake and Roosevelt, it tends to fade into the background. Not that that bothers the people who live there; businesses along Roosevelt Way Northeast like Reckless Video and Cloud City Coffee are little gems that regulars would just as soon keep to themselves.

Once the ongoing development of Maple Leaf Park (which includes burying the Maple Leaf Reservoir and adding an off-leash area) wraps up in the next few years, though, it’s only a matter of time before dog walkers and stroller pushers weary of the shoulder-to-shoulder congestion along Green Lake begin to venture north.

Unexpected Diversity

Laurelhurst

Laurelhurst has a reputation for being a ritzy, exclusive little burg in Northeast Seattle, and with good reason. The southern tip is all waterfront, and home prices are appropriately high. Many of those homes are, in the words of Laurelhurst Community Club president Jeannie Hale, “majestic and beautiful.” Bill Gates used to live there, and his dad still does, for crying out loud.

But once you’re there, you’re family—even if you aren’t a millionaire. Neighbors look out for each other (they’ve invested in a private security service to patrol the streets), and they’ve consistently supported ballot measures for low-income housing. “I think the perception is that everybody is very wealthy, which is far from the truth,” Hale says. “There’s a much broader mix of people, a broader diversity than many would think.”

Kids Are All Right

North Admiral

A message from the residents of North Admiral to the rest of Seattle: We’re not as old and white as you think we are. “When I moved to West Seattle six years ago, people would raise an eyebrow and say, ‘Oh you live in North Admiral,’ says Katy Walum, president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association. “And I’d say, ‘Yeah, but my house is at the more proletariat end of the street.’ There are all kinds of people who live here.”

Walum and the association’s members are trying to blow up the city’s perception of the neighborhood as a stuffy, elitist community, and they launched a free summer concert series three years ago to help get the word out. It’s working: Last summer, local acts like Pearl Django and Caspar Babypants (Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States of America) drew crowds from all over the city.

And dispelling the “North Admiral is old” myth has as much to do with promoting the nabe’s kid friendliness as it does with claiming it’s hip. “There are so many families here now,” Walum says. “We’ve got kids coming out of the woodwork.”