Rainier Valley

The Rainier Valley is both a neighborhood and a geographical feature that extends six miles southeast of downtown Seattle, almost to Renton. The Rainier Valley neighborhood is generally the upper (north) end of the valley between Beacon Hill and Mount Baker, but the name also refers to the entire length of the valley including communities such as Columbia City, Rainier Beach, Dunlap, Hillman City, Genesee, Mathieson, Orchard Beach, Kildarton, Wildwood, Lakewood, Hawthorne Hill, and Atlantic City.

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Columbia City

The area that became Columbia City was still heavily timbered with old-growth forests in 1889 when promoter J. K. Edmiston began building an electric railway south from downtown Seattle into the Rainier Valley. The railway served the dual purpose of opening the valley to development while providing access to new sources of lumber, which was in great demand after the Great Fire that had destroyed most of Seattle?s business district earlier that year. Edmiston and his partners bought 40 acres of land near the railway?s first planned station, logged it, cleared it, and launched a vigorous advertising campaign promoting the new town of Columbia.

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Rainier Beach

Rainier Beach, located in southeast Seattle on the shore of Lake Washington, was originally a slough, then a farm, then a developer’s dream, then dry land, before the beach became popular. Also called Atlantic City, it includes nearby communities such as Dunlap and Pritchard Island. After several decades of decline, the neighborhood enjoyed a resurgence of prosperity.

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