FOR DECADES ONE CITY OR ANOTHER HAS DEFINED THE EASTSIDE. First Seattle used the region as its extended bedroom community. Then, in the 1980s, Bellevue Square shrugged its mighty shoulders and an entire downtown fell into place around it. Next Microsoft made Redmond an enormous center of wealth-generating gravity.
Now the picture’s more complicated, with ambitious retail and mixed-use projects erupting from Bel Square’s downtown orbit to Renton and Redmond. Microsoft is not just Redmond’s but downtown Bellevue’s commercial anchor. Maturing suburbs face new urban challenges amidst economic upheaval on a scale not seen since pastures and berry farms dominated the landscape.
In this special section we examine some of those challenges, and the opportunities they bring. We profile a developer who can teach Seattle how to create a vital, livable city. And we spotlight the attractions—from food and sports to art, theater, and, yes, shopping—of the new Eastside.