Waking Up to Seattle's New Density

Census data shows that Seattle jumped Baltimore to become the country's tenth most densely populated city. Is Seattle on the cusp of a changing of the guard when it comes to density and population growth?

February 9, 2016, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Seattle Public Art

moonglee / Shutterstock

"Analysis of census data shows that Seattle — for the first time in its history — ranks among the top 10 most densely populated big cities in the U.S.," according to an article by Gene Balk.

"With 7,962 people per square mile in 2014, Seattle leapfrogged Baltimore into the No. 10 spot among the 50 most populous cities in the country. Seattle’s population density has increased by nearly 10 percent since the 2010 Census. And if current growth rates continue, we’ll bypass No. 9 Los Angeles within five years," adds Balk.

Balk places the new density figures in context of the city's ongoing development controversies, which erupted most publicly with the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) last year. Balk speaks extensively with Branden Born, associate professor of urban design and planning at the University of Washington, about the "D" word (density)—how the public perceives it and how they misperceive it. Born looks around the city and notes examples of density done right, as well as some example of how new development has changed the character of neighborhoods. Born predicts "a changing of the guard is under way when it comes to density and growth."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 in The Seattle Times

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