Beacon Avenue

Beacon Avenue is in the Beacon Hill neighborhood and (from Jefferson Park south to Cloverdale) is approximately 3.4 miles long.

The split roadway that Seattle today knows as Beacon Avenue was originally a pipe line road running along the hill’s high ridgeline. Olmsted envisioned a bustling but scenic thoroughfare along the southern extent of this route, for in his 1903 plan he suggested that the “pipe line road in and south of Beacon Hill Park (now Jefferson Park) should eventually be widened and should have three roadways – the western one to be used for ordinary traffic, the eastern one for a pleasure drive, and the middle one to be reserved for a speedway, the top of the ridge for two miles or more being sufficiently level for speeding horses.” He saw this as “desirable, particularly for those interested in fast horses,” and called it the “Duwamish Parkway,” which he suggested lead south from Jefferson Park “to the Driving Park in the flat land adjoining Duwamish River.”

In 1907, the city annexed several more areas to expand its boundaries south, west (incorporating West Seattle) and north, which opened up more opportunities for boulevard connections through and between these areas.  In his 1908 supplemental report, John Charles expanded his recommendations regarding this and other, connecting parkways to propose a sizeable network of scenic routes for recreation and pleasure. In this report he names this ridgeline route “South Ridge Boulevard” and describes its character and connections – the boulevard “would follow, in general, Pipe Line Road from City Park (Jefferson Park) southerly to a point about a mile north [near today’s Graham Street] of Dunlap Canyon. From this point southward the design should change to an informal parkway which would slant gradually down the east side of the ridge to a connection with Rainier Beach Boulevard and Dunlap Canyon [in the vicinity of Cloverdale Street today]. [It] would be so nearly level and would be so little interfered with by crosswise traffic that it would be the best place in Seattle for a speedway. For this purpose it should be made wide enough for a wide soft speeding drive, a wide hard macadam drive for returning to the starting point and for ordinary pleasure driving, for two wide promenades, for two traffic roads and for two sidewalks next to private property, together with wide tree planting strips between each way and the next. The informal parkway would have a pleasure drive and a traffic road with a broad turf area between which would generally be on a slope from one drive to the other.”

According to his 1908 plan, at Dunlap Canyon/Henderson Street the South Ridge Parkway would join with two other parkways – one, “Brighton Beach Parkway,” heading east to Pritchard Island and Beer Sheva Parks; and the other, “Dunlap Canyon Parkway,” traveling downslope to the southwest to cross the Duwamish River and join yet another parkway leading to West Seattle. Most of rest of this system was never built.

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