When I moved to Seattle in the 60's the U District's "Ave" (the retail spine adjacent to the University of Washington campus) was a kind of a classy place with its University Book Store, Nordstrom's and other well established retailers like Porter-Jensen Jewelers. On top of that there were some very good restaurants.
Today the book store is still there but hardly any of the original businesses remain. To be sure you can still find good international cuisine there. But the retail core of the neighborhood has seen better days.
Today the U district gets headlines that always seem to be crime related.
So much for the seedy side.
On the other hand you will find some very nice residential areas like Ravenna. Beautiful old money homes surrounding greek row with history that goes back to the days of racoon coats, and Betty Boop, when football was played without helmets.
Upon further review of the UDistrict'ss pluses, there is the sprawling campus with its Red Square , fountain and views of Lake Washington.
And let's not leave out Seattle's favorite walking, jogging, cycling path...the Burke-Gilman Trail.
And there, at the north end of the university's athletic fields and parking lots , stands the little shopping mall that could. University Village.
Who needs an indoor shopping mall in Seattle?
Here you get to be out in the rain with umbrella stations. Hanging flower baskets all over the place. A good place to sharpen you're "hunting for a parking place" skills. Not long ago the owners surgically removed ( to make rooom for more stores of course) one of the largest and most impressive Barnes and Noblesknown to man (some regular shoppers had to see their therapists over this) but losing it's anchor was only a hiccup and the center continues to thrive.
So the University Dictrict has something for everyone. Adventure, intrigue, pricey shopping malls,pubs, hole in the wall eateries, folks asking for bus fare, happy go lucky students, a state-of-the art football stadium and a big book store.