“Rat City” is a term often used to describe a gritty neighborhood--the seedy part of town. But those of us who live in these places wear the negative connotation as a badge of honor. Our beloved Rat City, White Center, is comprised of a diverse community of working-class people living in the area of West Seattle. There are over 150 businesses within a nine block radius, most of which are locally owned, including some amazing taco trucks, bars, Vietnamese restaurants, and coffee shops, to name just a few.

Rat City Circa 1938

Rat City Circa 1938

Depending which local you ask, you’ll likely get a few different answers about how our city became known as Rat City: White Center was home to the Reserve Army Training Center (or the Recruitment and Training Center) during WWII, and the area was deemed a Restricted Alcohol Territory. Some recall the young people at Southgate Skate Center being referred to as “rink rats.” Unincorporated in the city of Seattle, White Center lacks the same regulations and restrictions of the city--part of the reason it is perceived as “untamed and independent” (Richardson). Kuow.org also recently posted an article about Seattle being the perfect breeding ground for rats--one of the best in the United States, in fact--so it seems fitting that just outside those city limits is a little place we lovingly call Rat City. Between the reputation, war history, the people, and the rats, the name stuck. We live in Rat City, we call ourselves studio rats, and we wear our dusty clothes with pride.