Seattle Neighborhood Spotlight: Portage Bay

Seattle’s Portage Bay neighborhood is a hidden gem just south of the Eastlake Bridge. This area’s residents enjoy a lakeside setting in the heart of Seattle. From spacious parks to sunsets over the Seattle skyline, this neighborhood has a lot to offer!

Portage Bay Boundaries
Portage Bay is located south of the University District and north of Capitol Hill. With I-5 separating this neighborhood from Eastlake and 520 as its southern boundary, Portage Bay is a residential area with easy access to downtown, Bellevue, and other business hubs.

History
While most Seattleites are used to Lake Union flowing into Lake Washington, Seattle’s lakes were not always connected. In the late 1800s, they were actually separated by land. Portage Bay got its name from this space’s initial use: “Portage” refers to transporting water vehicles by land to access another body of water — and at the turn of the 20th century, commercial mariners had to take their cargo onto land before continuing into Lake Washington. In 1916, the Washington Ship Canal was built, connecting the two bodies of water, but the bay between these two lakes kept its name.

This neighborhood’s population grew rapidly in the early 1920s and continued to grow into the 20th century. Today, this area has a mix of houses and apartment buildings and is also home to one of Seattle’s largest houseboat communities.

Things to Do
While Portage Bay is mainly a residential area, this neighborhood puts you in the center of some of Seattle’s favorite shops, restaurants, parks, and more. Residents often make the most of a summer lunch or dinner on Eastlake Bar and Grill’s patio or enjoy a taste of France at Le Fournil Bakery. If you’re seeking bars and breweries, neighborhood favorite Roanoke Park Place is one of Seattle’s oldest bars and Mammoth is a popular option for craft beer and delicious sandwiches.

If the outdoors are your calling, this area gives you easy access to Interlaken Park, Roanoke Park, and Boren Park. Many residents also walk or run along the lake’s shore and embrace one of Seattle’s many ways to get on the water!

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