Ravenna Park is located in the Ravenna neighborhood at 5520 Ravenna Ave NE, 98105. It is 49.9 acres.
Ravenna Park was a privately-owned, “streetcar destination” park in 1903 when John Charles Olmsted first came to Seattle. The forested ravine was owned by William and Louise Beck as part of a larger land purchase with the aim to create a separate town. The Becks charged 25 cents for admission to the park and advertised its many springs and stands of giant trees. In 1904 the couple started naming some of the larger trees after famous individuals, the largest (274’ tall and 44’ in circumference) called “Roosevelt.”
Olmsted recommended in his 1903 report that Ravenna Park be included in the park system, “since it contains a picturesque ravine and a stretch of original woodland which has been less injured by wood-chopping and by fires than almost any tract of similar area equally near the city.” He continued with a recommendation to extend past the current (in 1903) park boundaries “so as to include more completely both the main ravine and some branch ravines, and in such a way as to provide suitable border streets.”
He repeated his recommendation in his 1908 report but limited the area to the ravine’s western stretch, between 15th Ave (abutting Cowen Park) to approximately 19th Ave. He cited this property as “a beautiful ravine through which flows a good sized stream of water, and is bordered on each side by unusually fine wooded slopes; it is very valuable for recreation purposes and as a scenic park.” The city acquired the park through condemnation proceedings starting in 1909.