POLL: Should W.C. Chamber Abolish Proposed ‘Rat City’ Marketing Campaign?

Click image to see larger screenshot of the Chamber's new website.

A new marketing campaign that calls White Center “Rat City” is getting some recent attention, according to an email sent out Monday (June 11) by White Center Chamber of Commerce President Mark Ufkes.

“I have received strong negative input from five long standing White Center businesses about the marketing emphasis on ‘Rat City’ for our new web site,” Ufkes said. “Let’s have a discussion at the luncheon tomorrow (Tuesday June 12) at the Salvadorian Bakery (Roxbury and 17th SW). There will be folks at the meeting who have a very strong negative view of this ‘Rat City’ emphasis.”

There’s also a new business organization called the Rat City Business Association.

Far as we know, the origins for the phrase ‘Rat City,’ stem from two possibilities:

  1. There was once a prolific rat problem here in the 1940s.
  2. ‘RAT’ might have been an acronym for Restricted Alcohol Territory, which Seattle was designated as during WWII.

Regardless, some residents find the term offensive. We’re wondering what our Readers think – please take our poll below (and drop by the Chamber luncheon Tuesday at Noon with your thoughts):

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


13 Responses to “POLL: Should W.C. Chamber Abolish Proposed ‘Rat City’ Marketing Campaign?”
  1. Brad says:

    dumb dumb dumb how can this possably help the reputation of our neighborhood. I will not spend one dime on advertising or be involved in any way other then making this go away. Sorry not a good ideah there are many more productive ways to describe White Center without calling it Rat City.

  2. TcB says:

    I never heard that there was once a prolific rat problem in the city. Is there actually a historical record of this? It seems more likely to be the acronym. If anyone can remember and report of when they first heard the term (I assume these individuals might have to be in their 80’s or 90’s) then we can find some more facts about it. As a marketing ploy, it might work on the hipster crowd, as some of the business there now are marketing themselves as hipster friendly. I think it wouldn’t work on the older crowd who find the term offensive. There is currently no rat infestation. I think the use of the name now is probably ironic and “cool”. I guess it’s up to the people who live there to try to keep or get rid of the name. Maybe you could convince the Rat City Roller Girls to drop the name, especially since they don’t even play there any more.

  3. Actually, rats have nothing to do with the nickname Rat City…

    “White Center also garnered a new nickname during the war: Rat City…The local wartime military establishment was called the Reserve Army Training Center or the Recruitment and Training Center…Often the military would designate an area out-of-bounds for servicemen, and these areas were designated Restricted Alcohol Territory. Some people recall that the youth at the Southgate Skate Center were known as rink rats. Whatever the source, the name Rat City was coined and stuck, and many in White Center hang on to the moniker with pride. Rodents had nothing to do with it.”

    And we happen to love it ourselves. Rat City FTW

  4. Teddi says:

    Embrace it! You can abolish it on publications all you want, but it will remain Rat City in the minds of many. It is a part of our history and one of the things that makes us special and unique. We are White Center- Rat City!

  5. Verde says:

    We are Rat City and we like it. And I don’t think you’re going to have any luck getting Rat City Rollergirls (who still do a lot here), The Rat City Brass, or anyone else to stop using it. It has nothing to do with being hip or ironic – we live here, it’s our historic nickname, it’s ours, and we’re keeping it.

  6. Jodi says:

    Jeesh…really? Is this what people have to get upset about?

    I couldn’t agree more that the name Rat City is part of the rich history of this community! It has nothing to do with actual rodents – which is easily found by a simple search. I can’t help but see this as another effort towards gentrification of the area. Exactly who is our target for marketing that we think will be put off by this historical term?

    I’m proud to be a Rat City resident. In fact, the poll shows that only 10% of the people who responded (4 at this point) find it offensive.

    I hope that the business owners who have a “very strong negative view” of the term are willing to come out and own that view publicly. I try to spend my dollars locally – in Rat City – and if they don’t want to be a part of that I’m happy to spend money with businesses who do.

  7. Jane says:

    I am proud to tell people that I live here and see nothing wrong at all with the Rat City nickname. “Cool’ is a matter of opinion, but I happen to think it IS cool, like our town.

  8. Guest says:

    Though you just GOT TO LOVE the alternate marketing slogan:
    WHITE CENTER: Not so white, not so centered.

  9. gg says:

    Okay, had a rat problem? I thought there were still a lot of rats there, Seattle has a lot of rats. I find the name ‘Rat City’ more endearing than offensive. White Center is so pedestrian; that said, do you think that the citizens of Boca Raton( which meansmouse mouth) debated that city name? Embrace your kooky side and accept Rat City!

  10. TcB says:

    It is absolutely all about being young,cool, hip, and edgy. If you’re older and you don’t like it, the new business gurus say “sucks to be you”. The Rat City Business Association Full Tilt Ice Cream, Caffé Delia, Proletariat Pizza, Zippy’s Giant Burgers and Company Bar are all hipster locations and Justin Cline from Full Tilt claims his target customer is 28-35. The perfect age to want to be associated with this name. They don’t want to acknowledge the historical part of the name Rat City, they just want to promote it as “Rat (as in rodent) City. Cause it’s cool, dig?They also are counting on the free publicity that they get from the Rat City Roller Girls although they now do their practicing in Lynnwood and play in Magnuson Park. I guess they show up to pick up trash once in awhile. If you are smart you’ll continue to market the Rat City as hipster central cause they have a lot of money to spend now that American Apparel is about to go under. Oh wait, they shoplifted most of that stuff……

  11. Aaron says:

    Regardless of the historical significance Rat City is not a wise choice for White Center. The use of an actual rat on the marketing is anything but flattering. Rat’s are disgusting disease riden scavengers. Not the image the people of White Center need. Let’s come up with something better.

  12. justin says:

    Glad your getting it TcB

  13. David says:

    White Center, AKA Rat City, should embrace it’s history and culture rather than try to sanitize it. Seattle as a whole has been sanitized to the point that it is nothing but a shadow of what it was…cool, funky, and quirky.

    I have lived in the White Center area for 3+ years now and don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else. The foods, the mix of peoples and cultures. The things that make Rat City are the things that business owners should take advantage of.

    Sure, the area is a little funky in some areas, at some times, but let’s be honest, the oddities are the life blood. Think of Capital Hill, Fremont, or Ballard…as soon as it was “cleaned” up…there was nothing left of what drew people to the area in the first place. In place of the fun, comfortable and affordable townie locations, you end up with high priced hipster bars and restaurants that have no real soul.

    Rat City, keep it real, keep it clean…keep the nickname…

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