Light Rail's Urban Tourists Discover South Seattle Is, Um, in Seattle

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As middle-class whites fall in love with light rail, some are traveling the line to discover foreign lands. Witness a couple strapping Caucasian men who emerged at the Columbia City station the other day wheeling bikes and looking around as if they were college backpackers just landed in Timbuktu. They asked directions to the Columbia City Cinema, and after getting it, responded to a question about where they were from. "Seattle," they said. As if this wasn't. Pressed for where exactly in Seattle, they explained that one lived in Capitol Hill, the other in Eastlake, and that because of light rail, they had decided to spend the afternoon exploring a neighborhood they had only heard about.

This is exactly what Columbia City is hoping for. Neighborhood businesses are trying to entice light rail riders with special deals through September 7th.One likely beneficiary: the Columbia City Cinema, which has had a hard time packing 'em in and has consequently struggled financially. It is, however, one of the city's finest, like a spiffed up version of the Harvard Exit, only with more family-friendly movies (Up, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and without the crowds-- at least until the newcomers catch on.

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