For those who believe Capitol Hill died in 1993, you can stop reading. For the rest of you, below is some of the biggest news CHS covered on and around the Hill in 2015. There were stories of triumph and exciting new things. There were stories of tragedy and troubles. There was a rogue garbage truck. For a neighborhood that has been dead for more than twenty years, it sure was busy up here.
+ Our first look at the new Capitol Hill — the year in development
+ Capitol Hill’s food and drink booms again
+ CHS Pics | This YEAR in Capitol Hill pictures
+ A Capitol Hill bookseller’s list: best books of 2015
CHS YIR: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Capitol Hill Station unveiled: One of the most-viewed news posts of the year was CHS’s report with the first photos from inside the completed Capitol Hill Station. While the light rail extension isn’t slated to begin service until 2016, enthusiasm for the new subway connection ran high in 2015. “Tens of thousands of people will use this as a way to commute to work, to enjoy life when they’re not working. It’s going to make a difference,” Mayor Ed Murray said before his first visit inside the station at Broadway and John. Meanwhile, the ongoing delays for the surface-level First Hill Streetcar became an ongoing joke.
Gun violence: Seattle and, especially, Central Seattle suffered from a wave of shootings and gunfire incidents. A dramatic drive-by shooting in November that injured five at Broadway and Pike got the most headlines while East Precinct shooting deaths included an August slaying in lower Pike/Pine and a deadly July shooting at 24th and Spring. Each of the three incidents mentioned here, by the way, remain unsolved. In all, there were four shooting deaths across the East Precinct in 2015 but across Seattle as a whole, gunfire incidents were trending 27% higher in 2015 vs. 2014. With help from the feds, city officials vowed to address the violence and do more to enable East Precinct officers to focus on serious crimes in 2016.
Losses: In June, CHS dropped the kind of bombshell that longtime readers have gotten unfortunately accustomed to. Broadway favorite Charlie’s was closing. Later in the year, in typical Capitol Hill style, there came the plot twist: Charlie’s would reopen but under the flag of a local sports bar chain. The old Charlie’s is gone. Some said good riddance. Other losses with their own twists included Kingfish Cafe’s January closure, and December’s revelation that not only will it never* return to Melrose and Pine — Bauhaus is closed. Period. Meanwhile, there was no plot twist (yet) for another nostalgic-soaked closure. Capitol Hill’s Value Village shuttered on 11th Ave after one last Halloween.
Rainbow crosswalks: Readers from across the globe visited CHS in June for the pre-Pride unveiling of rainbow crosswalks at six intersections in Pike/Pine. The visual representation of the neighborhood’s place in Seattle gay culture and history inspired other pavement-based expressions of neighborhood pride. City Hall quickly rolled out a new program to formalize the process.
Sawant wins: Despite plenty of enemies inside and out at City Hall, Kshama Sawant cruised to victory in Seattle’s first City Council district elections. The Socialist Alternative party’s biggest name built on her minimum wage victories with a campaign focused on social justice and affordability — but the vote, probably not that surprisingly, came down mostly to income and demographics. As Capitol Hill wrestled with its increasingly well-to-do soul, and the city lurched toward some kind of real solutions for making it so people can afford to live here, Sawant ascended to the top in District 3. Meanwhile, there are other signs the political status quo will be shaken up if not changed in 2016.
#justice4hamza: Late on the afternoon of Saturday, December 5th, 16-year-old Hamza Warsame died in a 60-foot fall from a building at Summit and Thomas. While police said they were not investigating the death as a homicide, concerns about a possible hate crime against the young Muslim student quickly spread. “This was murder, this was not a suicide,” Hamza’s sister Ikram Warsame told CHS as a series of street demonstrations were held . “He was content with his life, he had high hopes for the future.” Faced with the growing scrutiny, police confirmed there was no signs of assault in the case but had not released the medical examiner’s report by year’s end.
Lidding I-5: When we first reported on the project for a $1 billion-plus expansion of the Convention Center in March, CHS was pretty much putting our nose in downtown’s business. But, on the other nostril, Capitol Hill and downtown, in 2015, were close neighbors separated by a traffic canyon. By the end of the year, the framework for attaching to the expansion plan a study for how the neighborhood’s might cover that canyon started becoming real.
May Day: Capitol Hill’s tradition of protest and demonstration was alive and well in 2015 and the annual display of anti-establishment energy vs. SPD’s troubled policing tactics came to a head again on May Day. There were 16 reported arrests and numerous injuries including three police officers as clashes between protesters and police were concentrated on the streets of Capitol Hill for the third May Day in a row. Reviews of the “riot” concluded East Precinct brass failed to adequately document its May Day tactics and that officers were using blast-ball crowd control devices to create “fear and panic.”
Rogue garbage truck: Not every news story is part of a big theme. In October, Capitol Hill woke up to a strange, slow-speed chase across the neighborhood involving a garbage truck. “After colliding with the East Precinct building, he stated that he did not want to stop because he got the urge to continue driving,” the 18-year-old charged with stealing the truck allegedly told police.