Seattle’s Olmsted Parks

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John Charles Olmsted of the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects firm developed a park and boulevard system for the City of Seattle between 1903 and 1912. In addition to the system plan, Olmsted and other landscape architects from the Olmsted Brothers firm also developed plans for individual landscapes, including the University of Washington campus, Volunteer Park, the Washington Park Arboretum, Hiawatha Park, and others.

The system plan and these individual plans share a number of Olmstedian characteristics:

  • Parks and boulevards located on hilltops or along shorelines take advantage of views, incorporated as "borrowed landscapes" into the designs.
  • In more formally designed parks, "rooms" consisted of sweeping lawns bordered by planting beds that featured multiple layers, from ground covers to mid-height shrubs to taller trees.
  • Olmsted encouraged the preservation and use of native vegetation.
  • Many parks incorporated playgrounds for Seattle's younger citizens.
  • Paths and drives often follow curvilinear lines through the landscapes.
  • Formal sections of boulevards are flanked by rows of trees, informal sections that travel through woodland parks incorporate the existing vegetation along the street borders.

Kinnear Park

The land for Kinnear Park was a gift to the City by George and Angie C. Kinnear in 1887, and was only the second park property acquired by the City. The park encompasses 14 acres between W Olympic Place and originally extended to the beach at the foot of bluff; the park is now bounded on the south by W Mercer Pl. Improvements to the Park were made by the community with the assistance of the City crew starting in 1890.
The Olmsted Bros. report of 1903 reports that the Park had existing ‘symmetrical paths, green lawns, clusters of trees and shrubbery and flower beds’, along with native madrone tree that had a ‘beauty of color and wealth of foliage.’
The report comments that much of park is ‘so steep as to be unavailable, except to look over,’ but that the pleasing views over the Sound from the park were quite valuable. The report recommended that the Park should be re-designed with its own individuality, moving away from the ‘exotic character’ that had been added. They recommended planting with flowering shrubs that were adapted to the south-facing bluff and well-drained soil and ‘omitting all tender bedding plants.’
The 1903 report also suggests that a branch of the Queen Anne Boulevard should extend from the northwesterly corner of the Park along Olympic Place along the top of the bluff to meet the Grand Boulevard of the Queen Anne Boulevard system.
A service building, comfort station and tennis court were all added to the park in the 1940’s.
Sources: ‘Parks, Playgrounds and Boulevards of Seattle’, issued by the Board of Parks Commissioner, 1909; Don Sherwood files (Seattle Parks and Recreation)

It is located in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood at 899 W Olympic Pl, 98119. It is 14.1 acres.

Kinnear Park Additional Info

Kinnear Park News

Designed

∆ Cal Anderson Park

∆ Cheasty Boulevard

∆ Cheasty GS: Cheasty Blvd

∆ Colman Park

∆ Frink Park

∆ Green Lake Park

∆ Hiawatha Playfield

∆ Hunter Boulevard

∆ Interlaken Park

∆ Jefferson Park

∆ Kinnear Park

∆ Lakeview Park

∆ Lake Washington Boulevard

∆ Madrona Park

∆ Magnolia Greenbelt

∆ Montlake Boulevard

∆ Mount Baker Boulevard

∆ Mount Baker Park

∆ Puget Boulevard Commons

∆ Schmitz Boulevard

∆ Schmitz Park

∆ Seward Park

∆ Volunteer Park

∆ Washington Park Arboretum

∆ Woodland Park

Influenced

∆ Alki Beach Park

∆ Cowen Park

∆ Dearborn Park

∆ Denny Blaine Park

∆ Denny Park

∆ Discovery Park

∆ Golden Gardens

∆ Hamilton Viewpoint Park

∆ Leschi Park

∆ Lincoln Park

∆ Madison Park

∆ Marshall Park

∆ McGraw Square

∆ Miller Playfield

∆ Pioneer Square

∆ Ravenna Boulevard

∆ Ravenna Park

∆ Salmon Bay Park

∆ Sunset Hill Viewpoint Park

∆ Union Station Square

Recommended

∆ Ballard Playground

∆ Beacon Hill Playground

∆ Beer Sheva Park

∆ Boren Park

∆ Cascade Playground

∆ City Hall Park

∆ Fairview Park

∆ Garfield Playfield

∆ Gasworks Park

∆ Genesee Park

∆ Gilman Playground

∆ Greenwood Triangle

∆ Howell Park

∆ Interbay Athletic Field

∆ Kerry Park

∆ Licton Spring Park

∆ Longfellow Creek GS: North

∆ Magnolia Boulevard

∆ Magnolia Park

∆ Myrtle Edwards Park

∆ Observatory Courts

∆ Pritchard Island Beach

∆ Queen Anne Boulevard

∆ Rainier Playfield

∆ Roanoke Park

∆ Rogers Playground

∆ South Park Playground

∆ University Playground

∆ Viretta Park