Ballard Parkway (unrealized)

This parkway, never built, first appeared in the Olmsted Brothers’ 1903 report and conceptually was an essential link in the system of boulevards reaching across the city.  The Ballard Parkway would have connected Discovery Park and Magnolia Boulevard to Woodland Park and, from there, a nearly continuous route along boulevards all the way to Seward Park.

The 1903 report describes a proposed route navigating the steep grades on the west slope of Phinney Ridge, recommending the parkway at first run northwest from Woodland Park “in order to gain distance for descending the west flank of the hill on an easy grade.” After running northwest for a short distance, the parkway would then “turn quickly” and run in a line south and a little west to the foot of the slope, and from there run “about southwest to the northwest spur of Queen Anne Hill [near the intersection of present-day Emerson and Nickerson Streets by the southeast corner of the Ballard Bridge], crossing the steam railroad and ship canal by means of an overhead bridge.” An early sketch tucks the majority of the route within the city limits (at 8th Ave NW) of that time. Along the hillside, Olmsted suggested there “be two driveways, one of which should be on a higher level than the other in partial accommodation to the rapid crosswise slope of the hill.”

In drawing the route, John Charles acknowledged it may be difficult to attain: “The parkway from Woodland Park to Interbay. . . will have to be postponed unless the land owners affected by this section of the parkway, as well as others, give enough land or sell it at a sufficiently reduced price to bring the total expenditures within the limit.”

Olmsted’s 1908 supplemental report, which addressed opportunities in Ballard and other newly annexed areas, proposed a North Ballard Parkway running northwest from Woodland Park to present-day 85th Street. Although the supplemental report does not describe the more southerly Ballard Parkway again, a graphic map prepared in December 1908 shows that the thinking was still there. The map shows a proposed parkway route, now eased further westward with the new city limits, extending southwest as a spur from the North Ballard Parkway until it lines up with 14th Avenue NW just north of the canal crossing. This later iteration is what is illustrated on the map.

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