University Way NE, colloquially The Ave (no period), is the commercial heart of the University District and the off-campus extension of the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. Once "a department store eight blocks long,"

Looking south down The Ave from its intersection with NE 45th Street.

The Ave has gradually turned into what now resembles an eight-block-long global food court. The story of The Ave reflects the dynamics of many urban neighborhoods and the social and economic problems of countless American cities, though it is also a crossroads of diverse subcultures. It is patronized by many of the nearly 96,900 students, faculty, and staff of the UW; by the largely white and middle class residents of the U. District; and by a population of homeless or transient individuals, most of whom are youth.

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