Top Hat: Like Monopoly With Downtown Views

Part one of our series looking at neighborhoods that might not be neighborhoods.

Shaped nothing like a top hat, the ridiculously named Top Hat is actually a working-class neighborhood in West Seattle between Burien and White Center off Meyers Way. Just don’t ask me any specific follow-up questions about where it’s located (the borders are a little vague).

You’re probably wondering why it’s called Top Hat. The legend goes (it’s not a legend) that the name is based on the somewhat-giant top hat on top of Warner Transmission on Meyers Way, which used to be a gas station and became a bit of neighborhood landmark over time. “I’ll meet you at the top hat,” the kids probably used to say. When I saw it I thought it would look good on the Fremont Troll, but I don’t have the resources to make that happen. Maybe the engineering department at UW could figure it out.

There are actually three businesses with the name “Top Hat” in Top Hat, including Top Hat Novelties, Top Hat Mini Mart, and Top Hat Market. None of them actually sell top hats, which is a little disappointing. Sorry for using the words “top hat” so often. A few more paragraphs and we’re done.

Though it’s primarily residential, the neighborhood is also home to many spots that don’t use the eponymous name, including Lakewood Park, Cascade Middle School, Hicklin Lake (Hicklin?), NimBim Pot Shop, Evergreen Community Aquatic Center, Greenbridge Cafe, and various places of worship. It also bleeds a bit into the White Center area, so Top Hat can appropriate all those features as well if it wants to.

An ongoing issue has been whether the North Highline area—comprising Top Hat, White Center, and Arbor Heights—should be annexed by Seattle or Burien. So far no deal has been reached. It’s just like when LeBron James was deciding between Cleveland and Miami, except involving tax incentives and police coverage.

Should you move here? Top Hat isn’t a loud, flashy neighborhood like Maple Leaf, but it’s a nice little blue-collar spot with some good intermittent views of downtown Seattle. And check this out: Down the way from the giant top hat is a giant barrel, which was originally a Triple XXX Drive-in built in 1963, and now houses Bombay Grill, an Indian restaurant. Between the top hat and the barrel, you’ve almost got a full set of Monopoly pieces. That’s got to be worth something.

NeighborHuh is a four-week series helping would-be gentrifiers find Seattle’s more obscure neighborhoods to destroy.

More in News & Comment

A Canadian safe consumption site in Lethbridge. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
County Plans for Second Safe Drug Site Put on Hold

The move follows intense resistance to the proposal from the suburbs.

David Swaintek stands in front of his junk removal truck. Photo courtesy of Hanna Swaintek/JDog Junk Removal Lake Union
Veteran’s Junk Removal Franchise Strives for Environmental Sustainability

In light of China’s recent recycling regulations, JDog Junk Removal could help reduce the burden on landfills.

Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Bans Chewing Tobacco in Sports Stadiums

Advocates say the ban will keep youth athletes from using dip.

King County Council Passes Renter Protections Bill

The legislation is intended to prevent landlords from discriminating based on the source of a prospective tenant’s income.

Westin Hotel workers hold up signs in support of housekeepers’ rights. Photo by Hannah Long-Higgins
Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative Still Awaits Full Rollout

Over a year after voter approval, the law’s framework remains unset and open for public suggestion.

Activists Begin Collecting Signatures for Carbon Fee Initiative

Following inaction from state legislators, supporters of I-1631 are aiming for the November ballot.

An artist rendering of the Tateuchi Center in Bellevue. Courtesy of the Tateuchi Center
County Funding for Eastside Performing Arts Center in Jeopardy

Bellevue’s long-planned Tateuchi Center could lose $1.2 million.

Photo by Atomic Taco/Flickr
What’s Next After I-940?

Police reform advocates pivot their focus to officer’s interactions with people in mental health crises.

Most Read