Crossroads Center - Bellevue, Washington, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Crossroads Center - Bellevue, Washington, USA

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The Crossroads Center is an odd amalgamation of shopping mall and community centre located in Bellevue, Washington1, USA. The centre includes:

  • A grocery store and pharmacy

  • Large retail chain stores and banks

  • Small, independent businesses

  • An international food court plus free-standing restaurants

  • A police station and a branch office of the City Hall

  • A public library

  • An open stage adjoining the food court area

  • A floor chess set with 2 foot high pieces, and an adjoining area with tables for chess and other games

  • Space used for art shows, student exhibitions and ethnic festivals

The areas directly adjacent to Crossroads include a community recreation centre, nursing and retirement homes and apartment complexes with relatively large immigrant populations.

Crossroads is located at the intersection of NE 8th Street and 156th Avenue and is easily accessed from both Interstate 405 and Interstate 520. A number of local bus routes also stop off directly at Crossroads; both the buses and Crossroads offer good disabled access. In fact, many regular patrons will praise the accessibility of Crossroads - the tables in the dining area easily accommodate wheelchairs and the walkways throughout the centre are extra wide, allowing easy maneuverability. There are also wheelchairs and infant strollers that can be loaned out at the information desk.


Crossroads has a nice mix of chain and independent shops for a mall:

  • Bookshops. There is a bookstore (Barnes and Noble) and a used bookshop (Half Price Books), as well as an extensive magazine stand

  • If you're shopping for clothes, there is an Old Navy as well as several smaller shops, including some that focus on young children's clothing or one-of-a-kind items

  • Several stores are oriented towards gifts and knick-knacks, including a Hallmark card shop and shops for collectables dolls, stamps and coins

  • Department stores such as the Bed Bath and Beyond store

  • Large arts, craft and fabric shops for those of a creative inclination

  • A large sporting goods store, as well as a small cycling shop

  • Shops specialising in records and video games


The many restaurants at Crossroads present a good cross-section of the diverse ethnic groups in the neighbourhood. In addition to the traditional American eateries, Crossroads has Indian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek, Russian, Italian and Mexican restaurants. Several of the restaurants also offer excellent vegetarian fare. In the traditional mall food court style, the majority of the restaurants are centred around an indoor courtyard with central seating, so that different members of a party can select food from different restaurants and still sit together. The food court area abuts the chess area on one side and the music stage on another, so that patrons can enjoy these activities while dining.

The style is quite casual and family friendly2. However, lunchtime during the work week can be quite crowded, making both parking and seating more difficult. Many people arrive an hour early on live music evenings in order to get their food and seats before the crowd arrives. The dining area is also often used by people studying or reading; as of late, free hi-fi wireless access has also been added to the dining area, courtesy of the onsite library.

Activities and Entertainment

The main community activites at Crossroads are the live music nights, the movie theatre and the chess area, but weekends often find various exhibits or fairs drawing crowds. Annual events include 4-H shows, a multicultural festival and children's art exhibits.


Live musical performances are scheduled every Friday and Saturday night for 'Late Night in the Market', which runs from 7.30pm to 10.30pm and is a free, all ages non-smoking show. Groups audition and are booked far in advance for these shows, which provide a wide variety in styles of music and are very popular with the community. The concerts have been a fixture in the community for almost 15 years. The audiences often include a mix of families on outings, young mothers with infants, teens in groups and couples on dates.

Every Wednesday is also 'Open Mike Night', when groups can sign up on the spot to perform. The performances generally run from 6.00pm to 9.00pm, with sign-ups beginning at 5.30pm. On some weekends dances are held with live music as well.


Like many suburban malls in America, Crossroads has its own cinema. The Regal Crossroads 8 Cinemas mostly shows films aimed at families or teenagers, so this is probably not the place to look for the latest art film. However, it can be a great place to catch movies that are sold out at theatres in urban Seattle - it is not uncommon for people to drive across the lake from Seattle for dinner and a movie at Crossroads.


In addition, there is an ever-rotating group of people waiting a turn at the floor chess set3. There are chess games going on at almost all hours on the adjoining table. If you're alone, it's often possible to walk up to the tables and find an opponent immediately. Many older adults spend much of their day at Crossroads between the chess tables and food court and some of them are more than willing to instruct a newcomer in the basics of the game.

Community and Civic Services

Given the relatively large proportion of the neighbouring community that does not speak English as a first language, the majority of these agencies attempt to make the services accessible in a variety of languages, especially Spanish, Russian and Korean.

The City Hall

The self-titled Mini City Hall provides access to a variety of services for local residents, including assistance with utilities, referrals to social service organisations and information on the local community college.

The Police Station

While some community members were initially concerned about the idea of having a police substation within Crossroads, it appears to have worked out well. The station focuses mostly on prevention, education and communication efforts, but does respond to local incidents.

The Library Branch

The library at Crossroads is relatively small in size but one of the more popular in the area, in no small part because of its convenience. The branch is part of the King County Library System - books checked out at one branch can be returned at any other branch.

Other Services

On a semi-regular basis, Crossroads is also home to a free healthcare clinic sponsored by the Rotary, pet adoption programmes and conversation groups for new English speakers.

1Crossroads is directly down the street from the main Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.2For example, it is not uncommon to see toddlers running between tables or women openly breastfeeding.3As it is strictly first come, first served, it is not unusual to see a six-year-old playing against a 76-year-old.

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