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Fall for Columbia City, Washington: In Seattle's Rainier Valley, a neighborhood enjoys its rapid rise from dumpy to desirable

by Ali Basye and Pat Tanumihardj

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There's a humble, aw-shucks mentality permeating Columbia City that's hard to not be smitten with.

Friendly and proud (if also somewhat bewildered) over the sonic-speed real-estate boom in their south Seattle burg, locals are eager to pay it forward. At the movie house, owner Paul Doyle is quick to recommend a theater show down the block. A new restaurateur, unprovoked, raves about the eatery across the street.

For visitors, a simple Saturday shopping trip often extends into an evening out.

Retroactive Kids: Spinning tops and Fisher-Price record players share space with kids' saddle shoes at this new-and-vintage toy-and-clothing store. Sift through racks of colorful duds at the neighborhood's latest hot spot for fashionable tots. INFO: 4859 Rainier Ave. S.; 206/932-3154.