Beacon Hill

In Beacon Hill, it’s not uncommon for doctors and lawyers to live side-by-side with neighbors who are receiving subsidies from the city to make improvements to their homes. Economic diversity may be the defining characteristic of the South Seattle neighborhood, and it’s the one that residents are desperate to hold on to. “It’s one of my favorite parts about this place,” says Dylan Ahearn, an environmental consultant who lives in North Beacon Hill. “We’re all out in the street playing together all day long.”

It’s also the characteristic that might be the most endangered. In the slender strip of land just east of I-5, character-rich homes are still affordable—by Seattle standards—the views of the Olympics and the Cascades are virtually unmatched, and commute times to downtown are remarkably manageable even by bike. But now that the area near the new light rail station north of Jefferson Park is attracting commercial developers, it’s just a matter of time before more urban professionals discover what Beacon Hill has to offer—and what it could have in the future.

So now locals are wrestling with how to keep improving their ’hood without destroying its everyone-knows-everyone vibe. “You have to balance new development with trying to keep the character of the community,” Ahearn says. “It’s nice to have more services, but you don’t want to change the neighborhood so much that you drive people out “