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Good News Downtown Turns One!

Every week, we compile stories of a vibrant, buzzing, and exciting Downtown.

To celebrate one year of Good News Downtown and help jog your memory of some of the great things that happened Downtown in 2023, click on the pictures below to see some of our favorite highlights.

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A lively neighborhood

  • According to Downtown Seattle Association’s 2023 Economic Report, a record 104,000 residents now call Downtown Seattle home
  • Seattle Pride brought beautiful colors and energy Downtown in June, with around 300,000 people and hundreds of organizations marching, cheering, dancing, and celebrating inclusion, acceptance, and equality with the annual parade.
  • “This is an example of showing people that we are part of the land and showing the Indigenous people today that we’ve never left… Seattle is our home.” New experiences await in the revamped City Hall Park, as trees turn into monuments.
  • Downtown Seattle has the second-largest amount of residential units currently under construction, with more than 5,500 residents moving to the Downtown area between July 2021 and July 2022, accounting for nearly a third of the city’s population growth.

Exciting retail and dining experiences

  • 10 Seattle Restored participants grew from pop-ups to businesses with long-term leases Downtown.  
  • Sierra Jones was Seattle’s third Seattle Restored activation back in April 2022. With the support of OED’s program partners Shunpike and Seattle Good Business Network, as well as supportive property owners of the program like Unico, she now has a long-term lease on 4th and Union for her homegrown startup – A Space Inside.
  • Iconic Downtown spaces were reborn such as Hometeam, The Monkey Bridge, and Ben Bridge Jewelry.
  • New restaurants and cafés opened in every corner of Downtown:
    • Chinatown-International District: Itsumono, Onibaba, Bellwether BBQ, Kilig.
    • Downtown Core: Fonté Coffee Bar, Mendocino Farms, Bombo Italian Kitchen and the Bar at Bombo, Qiao Lin Hotpot, Alder & Ash, Skillet Diner (Post Alley), Just Poké.
    • South Lake Union: Street Eats, Gyo Gyo En.
    • Pioneer Square: Darkalino’s, Tacolisto, Saigon Drip Café, The Monkey Bridge, Rojo’s Mexican Food.
    • Belltown: Vindicktive Wings, MOTO Pizza, Neb Wine Bar, Just the Tap.
    • SODO: The Press Box.
  • Some of our favorite Downtown spots reopened, including Palace Kitchen and Ludi’s Restaurant.

Celebrate arts and culture

  • Seattle Center saw a 25% year-over-year increase in attendance in 2023, with well over 10 million visits. Over the last 6 weeks of 2023, Winterfest attracted an estimated 1.4 million visitors, which is a record.
  • A free book talk with Seattle author of Lessons in Chemistry Bonnie Garmus was standing room only in the Central Library’s auditorium, the largest turnout for the Downtown location since the pandemic.
  • Songs of Black Folk: Music of Resistance and Hope brought the African American music tradition and world-class musical performances from local and national artists to the Paramount Theatre. 
  • People flocked to the Seattle Art Fair at Lumen Field Events Center.
  • For the first time ever, Seattle hosted a tribal nations summit at City Hall where the City of Seattle joined forces with the leaders of tribal nations to form committees to chart a sustainable pathway for tribal and urban native engagement in public policy.
  • The Waterfront Block Party brought people down to historic Pier 62 with Seahawks Blue Thunder drumline, the Lummi Nation’s Westshore Canoe Family, salsa band Cambalache, kid-friendly activities, and plenty more.
  • The annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition brought 10,000 people to Pike Place Market to enjoy the sounds of caroling for a great cause, the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank.
  • The Liberty Project just announced its first co-hort. These businesses including RLA Engineering, Yesler Market, and The Postman represent a new generation and new opportunity to build a legacy, one that ushers in a truly inclusive, just, and resilient economy.
  • SIFF Cinema Downtown welcomed the crowds back to the cherished Cinerama theater with screenings of Wonka.

Cheer on our sports

A new wave of entertainment

  • More than 10,000 people visited the Westlake Park area to check out the kickoff to the DSA Downtown Summer Sounds concert with R&B sensation UMI. UMI was born in Seattle and brought in one of the biggest turnouts for the Summer Sounds series EVER, and generously stayed for 45 minutes post-show to take photos and sign autographs for fans.
  • Taylor Swift and Swifties took over Downtown Seattle, with 140,000 concert goers pouring in from all over the region. The day before fans were let into the stadium, there were lines for blocks for merchandise. A record 1.15 million people visited Downtown that weekend.
  • During its 2-week run in Seattle, nearly 50,000 people filled the seats of the Paramount to see SIX the Musical.
  • Bumbershoot triumphantly returned after a three-year hiatus with five different stages hosting over 40 different artists and receiving around 45,000 attendees.
  • Seattle is crazy in love with Beyoncé. The Queen performed 40 of her hits to the delight of her glimmering BeyHive of 57,000 in a packed Lumen Field.
  • Coldplay performed “A Sky Full of Stars” and other hits to a sold-out crowd at Lumen Field in the final concert of the season for the stadium. In The Seattle Times review of the show, Owen R. Smith notes that more than two decades ago, Coldplay played at the Showbox in Downtown on their first tour.

A top destination for Seattleites and visitors year-round

Healthy, resilient, and green

  • Nearly 500,000 people visited the Seattle Waterfront in 2023. Some of the most successful events last year were the Waterfront Block Party (6,730 attendees), Waba Korean Festival (5,236 attendees), and Hip Hop 50 (5,150 attendees). In total, Friends of the Waterfront report approximately 70,000 people attended their events in 2023, and 15,000 people boarded the shuttle to navigate down the Waterfront.
  • Over 1,000 people showed up for Seattle Fire Day at MOHAI to meet firefighters, educators, and cadets to learn about home fire safety, watch a search and rescue dog demo, and tour the engine, truck and fireboat.
  • “I think it’s a pretty transformative change.” Construction is progressing steadily on the Seattle Waterfront. KUOW’s Josh McNichols took a tour and shares what he’s most excited about following his visit, including the “Salish Steps.”
  • Plant lovers lined up for hours to catch a glimpse (and sniff) of Morticia 2.0 at Amazon’s Spheres.
  • The new Elliot Bay Connections Project will transform the Seattle Waterfront with a walking and biking path on the east side of Alaskan Way. The 100% privately funded project aims to be completed for the 2026 World Cup.
  • Nearly 6,000 runners participated in the Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon. The marathon is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest, with scenic views of Seattle’s iconic bridges, waterways, and architecture. The course took thousands of runners through Downtown before they entered the I-5 Express Lanes tunnel at 5th and Columbia and headed north.
  • In an effort to make a more pedestrian-friendly Downtown, the Seattle Department of Transportation made traffic adjustments with right turn on red restrictions at more than 40 Downtown intersections.