First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide: Everything You Need to Know

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide You Need to Know

First Hill is one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, known for its stunning views, charming parks, and historic landmarks. Located just east of downtown Seattle, First Hill is a thriving community with a diverse population, numerous entertainment options, and excellent educational opportunities. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, navigating the First Hill neighborhood can be overwhelming without a comprehensive First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide. 

In this article, we will provide you with a complete guide to everything you need to know about First Hill, including its history, demographics, housing, transportation, safety, schools, and community events. Whether you’re looking for a new place to call home, a great restaurant to try, or simply want to explore the area’s rich history and culture, our guide will help you make the most of your time in First Hill.

The History of First Hill

The history of First Hill is as rich and diverse as the neighborhood itself. From its humble beginnings as a quiet residential area to its current status as a bustling hub of activity, First Hill has undergone numerous transformations over the years. In this section, we will delve deeper into the neighborhood’s history, exploring its early development, growth and expansion, and its current state.

Early Development:

First Hill was originally home to the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes, who used the area for hunting and fishing. In the 1860s, white settlers began moving into the area, establishing farms and orchards. By the late 1800s, the neighborhood had become a desirable location for Seattle’s wealthy elite, who built large mansions and estates on the hill’s slopes.

Growth and Expansion:

In the early 1900s, First Hill experienced a period of rapid growth and expansion. The introduction of streetcars and the construction of major hospitals and medical facilities helped turn the neighborhood into a center for healthcare and medical research. During this time, many of the neighborhood’s historic buildings, such as the Sorrento Hotel and St. James Cathedral, were built.

Current State of First Hill:

Today, First Hill is a bustling urban neighborhood that combines historic charm with modern amenities. Many of the neighborhood’s historic buildings have been renovated and repurposed into apartments, offices, and retail spaces. The neighborhood is also home to several major medical institutions, including Swedish Medical Center and Virginia Mason Medical Center. Despite its urban setting, First Hill has managed to maintain a strong sense of community, with numerous neighborhood organizations and community events bringing residents together.


Understanding the demographics of a neighborhood is crucial for both residents and visitors alike. In this section, we will take a closer look at the population of First Hill, including its age distribution, ethnicity and race, and education levels.


First Hill is a densely populated neighborhood, with a population of approximately 12,000 residents. The neighborhood has a mix of single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums, making it an attractive option for individuals and families looking to live in the heart of Seattle.

Age Distribution:

The age distribution in First Hill is relatively diverse. While the majority of residents are between the ages of 25 and 44, there is also a significant population of seniors aged 65 and over. Additionally, there is a growing number of young professionals and families with children moving into the area.

Ethnicity and Race:

First Hill is a diverse neighborhood, with a mix of ethnic and racial backgrounds. The largest ethnic group in the neighborhood is Asian, followed by White and Black or African American. First Hill is also home to a significant Hispanic or Latino population.


First Hill is home to several top-rated schools, including Seattle University and Seattle Central College. Additionally, the neighborhood is located within the Seattle Public School District, which offers a range of educational opportunities for students of all ages. The majority of residents in First Hill hold at least a bachelor’s degree, making it a highly educated community.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide: Housing

Housing is a significant factor to consider when choosing a neighborhood. In First Hill, there are various types of housing options available to suit different lifestyles and budgets. In this section, we will explore the types of housing available in First Hill, the average rent and home prices, the amenities that come with living in the neighborhood, and the best places to live.

Types of Housing:

First Hill offers a range of housing options, from historic mansions to modern high-rise apartments. There are also several townhouses and condominiums available for those looking for a more low-maintenance lifestyle. The mix of housing options attracts a diverse group of residents, from young professionals to families and retirees.
First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide

Average Rent and Home Prices:

The cost of living in First Hill is relatively high compared to other Seattle neighborhoods. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $2,000, while the average home price is around $700,000. However, the cost of living is balanced out by the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown Seattle and its wealth of amenities.


Living in First Hill comes with a range of amenities, including access to several top-rated medical institutions, beautiful parks, and a diverse selection of restaurants and entertainment options. The neighborhood is also within walking distance of downtown Seattle, offering residents easy access to all that the city has to offer.

Best Places to Live:

The best places to live in First Hill depend on individual preferences and budgets. Some of the most sought-after areas include the historic mansions on the hill’s slopes, the modern high-rise apartments near Seattle University, and the townhouses and condominiums near the neighborhood’s parks and restaurants. Those looking for a more affordable option may consider the apartment complexes on the neighborhood’s outskirts.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide : Attractions and Entertainment

First Hill is a neighborhood that offers a wealth of attractions and entertainment options for residents and visitors alike. From museums and galleries to parks and outdoor spaces, restaurants and cafes to nightlife and bars, there is something for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular attractions and entertainment options in First Hill.

Museums and Galleries:

First Hill is home to several museums and galleries that showcase art, history, and culture. Some of the most popular museums in the neighborhood include the Frye Art Museum, which features contemporary and modern art, and the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, which provides educational exhibits and resources related to the Holocaust.
Seattle Art Museum

Parks and Outdoor Spaces:

First Hill is known for its beautiful parks and outdoor spaces, which offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Some of the most popular parks in the neighborhood include Freeway Park, which features a unique design and stunning views of downtown Seattle, and the Jimi Hendrix Park, which pays tribute to the iconic musician and features a range of artistic installations.

Restaurants and Cafes:

First Hill offers a diverse selection of restaurants and cafes, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. The neighborhood is known for its international cuisine, with options that include Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and more. Some popular restaurants in the area include Ba Bar, a Vietnamese restaurant with a trendy atmosphere, and Terra Plata, which offers seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine.

Nightlife and Bars:

First Hill offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with several bars and clubs that cater to different tastes and preferences. The neighborhood is known for its craft cocktail bars, including the speakeasy-style bar, Needle and Thread, and the modern tiki bar, Navy Strength. There are also several music venues in the neighborhood, including the historic Sorrento Hotel, which hosts live jazz performances in its lounge.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide : Transportation

Transportation is an essential consideration for anyone looking to live in a new neighborhood. In First Hill, there are various transportation options available to residents and visitors alike. In this section, we will explore the different transportation options in First Hill, including public transportation, biking, walking, and driving.

Public Transportation:

First Hill is well-connected to downtown Seattle and other surrounding neighborhoods through the city’s public transportation system. The neighborhood is served by several bus routes, including the First Hill Streetcar and the Seattle Streetcar, which provide easy access to other parts of the city.


Biking is a popular mode of transportation in First Hill, thanks to the neighborhood’s relatively flat terrain and its bike-friendly streets. The neighborhood is also close to several popular biking trails, including the Burke-Gilman Trail and the Sammamish River Trail.


First Hill is a highly walkable neighborhood, with many amenities located within walking distance of each other. Residents can easily walk to the neighborhood’s many restaurants, parks, and medical institutions, making it an attractive option for those who prefer to get around on foot.


While driving is an option in First Hill, parking can be challenging, especially in the neighborhood’s more densely populated areas. However, the neighborhood’s proximity to major highways and thoroughfares makes it easy to get around by car, especially for those who need to commute to other parts of the city or beyond.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide: Safety and Crime

When looking for a place to live, safety is a top priority for most people. In this section, we will explore the safety and crime situation in First Hill, including crime rates, safety precautions, and community policing.

Crime Rates:

First Hill has a relatively low crime rate compared to other neighborhoods in Seattle. The neighborhood is known for its low levels of violent crime, but property crime is more common, with theft and burglary being the most reported crimes in the area. However, it’s important to note that crime can happen anywhere, and residents should take appropriate safety precautions.

Safety Precautions:

To ensure safety in First Hill, it’s important to take necessary precautions such as locking doors and windows, not leaving valuables visible in cars, and being aware of your surroundings when walking alone at night. It’s also important to have a good relationship with your neighbors and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Community Policing:

First Hill has an active community policing program that works to build relationships between law enforcement and residents. The program includes initiatives such as neighborhood watch groups, community meetings with local police officers, and regular safety walks in the neighborhood. By working together, residents and law enforcement can make First Hill a safer place to live.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide : Schools and Education

Education is an important factor for many families when choosing a place to live. In this section, we will explore the schools and education options available in First Hill, including public schools, private schools, and higher education.

Public Schools:

First Hill is served by the Seattle Public Schools district, which operates several schools in the neighborhood. Some of the most notable public schools in the area include Lowell Elementary School, which offers a diverse and inclusive learning environment, and Garfield High School, which is known for its strong academics and extracurricular programs.

Private Schools:

First Hill also offers several private school options for families who prefer a smaller, more personalized learning environment. Some of the most popular private schools in the area include The Bush School, which offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, and Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, which offers a range of arts and technology programs.

Higher Education:

First Hill is home to several higher education institutions, including Seattle University, a private Catholic university that offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and Seattle Central College, a public community college that offers associate degrees and certificate programs in a variety of fields. These institutions provide opportunities for students to further their education and advance their careers.

First Hill Seattle Neighborhood Guide : Community and Events

Community and events play an essential role in creating a sense of belonging and connection to a neighborhood. In this section, we will explore the community and events in First Hill, including neighborhood associations, community events, and volunteer opportunities.

Neighborhood Associations:

First Hill has several active neighborhood associations that work to foster a strong sense of community and advocate for the interests of residents. These associations provide a platform for residents to share their opinions, stay informed about local issues, and work together to improve the neighborhood.

Community Events:

First Hill offers a variety of community events throughout the year, ranging from cultural festivals to outdoor concerts and movie screenings. Some of the most popular events in the area include the annual First Hill Fidos Dog Walk, which brings together dog owners and their furry friends, and the First Hill Art Walk, which showcases the work of local artists and galleries.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community while also connecting with other residents. First Hill offers a range of volunteer opportunities, including local food banks, community gardens, and senior centers. By volunteering, residents can make a positive impact on the neighborhood while also building relationships with their neighbors.

First Hill has something for everyone

In conclusion, First Hill is a vibrant and unique neighborhood that offers a wide range of amenities and opportunities for both residents and visitors. From its rich history and diverse population to its top-rated schools and excellent entertainment options, First Hill has something to offer everyone. 

With this guide, we hope we have provided you with all the information you need to navigate this exciting neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for a new home, exploring the city, or simply want to soak up the local culture, First Hill is an ideal destination. So go ahead, explore, and experience all that First Hill has to offer.


Posted on

March 14, 2023