Last night we snagged a couple of complimentary tickets to Town Hall (thanks, Feet First!) for a talk by Jeff Speck, who just published a book called "Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time." Speck is an urban planner who has dedicated his career to figuring out what makes cities thrive. His answer: walkability!
It was a fascinating talk about what makes cities walkable, and we ended up buying the book - maybe we'll mention it again as we get into it. Jeff Speck mentioned a very cool website called Walk Score, where you can fly over a Google map of Seattle neighborhoods to see a color visualization of their walkability. We highly recommend a visit to the site - it's a lot of fun.
Overall, Seattle is rated the 6th most walkable city in the U.S., with a Walk Score of 74. That score says the city is "very walkable: most errands can be accomplished on foot." Of course individual neighborhood scores vary widely, and that 74 score for Seattle is just an average of all of them. Out of curiosity, we checked which neighborhoods in "Seattle Stairway Walks" offer the highest walkability scores.
We found 15 neighborhoods that meet or beat that overall "Very Walkable" score of 74. Back in the day, stairways often linked residences to public transit and neighborhood commercial nodes. So it's not surprising that Seattle neighborhoods with stairs tend to be well-connected and walkable. Here's a slideshow of characeristic scenes from stairway routes in these especially walkable neighborhoods: