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

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo
Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

Cooper Hawkins (9), Nash Hawkins (16) and Charlotte Hawkins (12) at the Hawkins’ home. Courtesy photo
Mercer Island family raises awareness for rare, undiagnosed diseases

Charlotte and Cooper Hawkins were born with an ultra-rare undiagnosed disease.

Replica of Vietnam Memorial making Enumclaw stop

A local vet has spent six years trying to secure this opportunity.

A proposal to make King County Metro fares free for low-income households could be approved in the coming months. File photo
King County considers free transit for low-income residents

The program would target those at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level.

Federal Way resident Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, 17, died Jan. 27, 2017. Courtesy photo
Law enforcement challenges report on sting operation that killed Federal Way teen

King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s findings rattle Sheriff’s Office, police union.

Unstable housing? Apply for Section 8

Applications open in February for housing vouchers

In 2018, the city of Seattle approved and then repealed a head tax within a month. It would have levied a $275 per employee tax on businesses grossing more than $20 million annually. Sound Publishing file photo
County head tax bill passes committee

Bill would let King County levy a tax on businesses to fund housing and address homelessness.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill of the 2020 legislative session into law. On the right stands the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is wearing a red tie. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gov. Inslee signs tax bill to help fund higher education

Law shifts a portion of the tax burden to large tech companies.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Metro bus fleet will be electrified by 2035

Future base in South King County would house hundreds of the zero-emission vehicles.

Three-quarters of the suicide deaths among children ages 10 to 14 are caused by firearms, according to a new report from the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. File photo
King County studies youth gun violence amid rising suicides

It’s unclear what’s driving the trend.

A King County work crew clears a road near Preston on Feb. 7, 2020. Heavy rains appear to have caused multiple landslides along the road. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
The future could look a lot like this year’s flood season

Climate change is expected to lead to more winter flooding in King County.

High tides, as seen in this file photo of Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Pacific County, could become the norm in the future due to sea level rise. Sound Publishing file photo
UW summarizes Washington climate impact on water

The report localizes information from the United Nations.