When I first came to Seattle and started looking for a place to live, I began evaluating neighborhoods based on criteria like proximity to downtown, rent prices, sense of safety, etc, etc, etc…  But in the end, it all came down to the coolness factor, and Capitol Hill had me at hello.  I chose a small-but-comfortable studio apartment at the west edge of Capitol Hill, loving the fact that I could walk to work, walk to the grocery store, walk to any number of stellar cafes, walk to the bars, walk to the park, walk to my art classes at Seattle Central – I had just about anything I could possibly need right at my fingertips.  On average, I must have put about 15 miles a week on my car.  It was fabulous.  Plus, by living in such a hip, urban area, I was able to convince myself that I was actually cool by association (whether this is true or not is still TBD).  Once Shane moved to Seattle and we got married, there was never really any question that we would stay in the ‘hood, and we scored a perfect one-bedroom apartment in a lovely old brick building, just three blocks from where I had been living.  Life was good on Capitol Hill – we went out to dinner at Chez Gaudy or La Spiga on a moment’s notice, I spent my Saturday mornings Bauhaus Cafe, and on sunny afternoons, I would grab my book and head over to Cal Anderson Park to lay on the grass and watch neighborhood residents splash in the fountain.

Nearly a year after we’d settled into our apartment on Union Street, when we started looking to buy a place in Seattle, it was hard to make the decision to leave the Hill and transport all of our belongings four miles south to our spacious-but-not-nearly-as-hip townhome in Columbia City.  In the end, I really believe it was the right choice for us, as we have fallen in love with our home and our neighbors and our greater neighborhood, but still, I think I left just a small piece of my heart back in Capitol Hill.

Which is why, when I found myself with a wide-open afternoon yesterday, I decided there was nothing I would rather do than grab my camera and spend a couple of hours strolling down Pike and Pine, pretending once again that I was one of the cool folks that actually belonged there.  I had read a good review of Porchlight Coffee on 14th, so I started there, then proceeded to wander toward Broadway, detouring through Cal Anderson Park, then Value Village’s book aisles, and slowly making my way back east.  It’s a little disappointing to see several not-so-charming vanilla condo buildings popping up around the neighborhood, but the underlying fabric of old brick storefronts, poster-plastered telephone poles, and trendy coffee shops on every other corner still exists, and that makes me happy.

Cool/uncool, hip/unhip, young/old, etc, etc, I suppose Capitol Hill’s greatest charm is in its ability to draw me in and make me think there’s no where else I’d rather be sipping my latte.