Rainier Beach is a set of neighborhoods in Seattle, Washington that are mostly residential. Also called Atlantic City, Rainier Beach can include Dunlap, Pritchard Island, and Rainier View neighborhoods.
The neighborhood is located in the far southeastern corner of the city along Lake Washington. Its primary arterials are Rainier and Renton Avenues South (northwest- and southeast-bound).
Neighborhood boundaries are informal and sometimes overlapping in Seattle; formal designations have not existed since 1910. Rainier Beach blends with the Rainier Valley neighborhood of Dunlap (formerly Hillman City, also called Othello) on the north. On the east is Lake Washington, and the South Beacon Hill neighborhood lies to the west. South of Rainier Beach is Rainier View, bounded by South Bangor Street on the north and the city boundary on its south, east, and west. The Lakeridge and Skyway neighborhoods of unincorporated King County lie to the southeast and southwest, respectively, of Rainier View. The city of Tukwila abuts Rainier View on the west.
What is now Rainier Beach neighborhood has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 BCE—10,000 years ago). The Xacuabš (hah-chu-ahbsh, Lake People or People of the Large Lake) were related to, but distinct from, the Dkhw'Duw'Absh, People of the Inside, tribe of the Lushootseed (Skagit-Nisqually) Coast Salish Nations. Both are now (c. mid 1850s) of the Duwamish tribe. The Xacuabš village of tleelh-chus (little island) was, appropriately, on an island at the southwest shore of what is now called Lake Washington, at their trail through a valley that led to the villages of the Dkhw'Duw'Absh on salt water at Elliott Bay and the estuarial Duwamish River. The Duwamish were dispossessed with the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. The trail became the route for driving livestock to the town of Seattle (1870s), the valley was renamed Rainier Valley, the island was renamed Young's Island (1883), then Pritchard Island (1900), the trail became the route of the Seattle and Rainier Beach Railway (1894), then the Seattle, Renton and Southern; the route became that of Rainier Avenue S (1937), the main road to Renton and on over Snoqualmie Pass until the then-innovative floating bridge of 1940 was opened at the nearby Mount Baker neighborhood.
An electric trolley line came to Rainier Valley in 1891, to Columbia City; to Renton in 1896. Residential development began in earnest. An early sharp operator (beginning in 1896), Clarence Dayton Hillman, namesake of the nearby Hillman City neighborhood, designated Rainier Beach as the Atlantic City residential development (1905) after the New Jersey resort. He included a park area on the cove, built a pier, bath house, boat house, picnic facilities—and sold the land to multiple buyers when he got around to platting the properties snapped up by eager buyers attracted by the adjacent amenities, as well as allowing multiple street naming rights. The tangled street names were sorted out, the property was eventually returned to park purposes (c. 1912) and the park name has stuck. (Hillman was eventually caught and nominally convicted.) The interurban railway remained until 1936, when it was torn up to make way for automobiles.
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