“You’d never know,” a Seattle resident recently cooed. A drive through Lake City’s charming, tree-hung streets unveils a tucked-away 1950’s neighborhood. It is peaceful, unpretentious, colorful and traditional, with lush gardens and uniquely tended yards.
Lake City gets a bad rap for being the main corridor of Auto Row, strip malls and a clutter of seedy businesses. But jump a block or two off Aurora (the sinful strip that dissects the neighborhood) and you’re in the middle of a varied collection of mid-century homes, bungalows and ramblers, bricks and A-framed add-ons. On the east side of Aurora some blocks evoke Grandma. Other blocks spring forth with tasteful remodels; none of the remodels veer too far outside the traditional aesthetic here. The west side of Aurora has more condominiums and apartments, and the roads twist and turn over a hillcrest into a forested neighborhood.
There is a charming old-town business district on Lake City Way, a line of single-story stores with awnings. This tree-lined street has an eclectic mix of restaurants and small shops. Look beyond the reputation and there’s plenty to admire here.
Over the last couple years, Lake City has been part of a restoration effort. Trees were planted along auto row, and sidewalks have been added to engage pedestrian traffic. Art and public sculptures are in the works to decorate the bus stops. As for the growing community, an influx of immigrants is fast-defining the diversity of Lake City, especially on the west side of Aurora.