Marshall Park

Betty Bowen Viewpoint at Marshall Park

Marshall Park is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood at 7th Ave W & W Highland Dr, 98199. It is 0.78 acres.

Originally named Phelps Park, Betty Bowen Viewpoint at Marshall Park was created to capture the expansive view from the southwest summit of Queen Anne Hill. Seattle Park Commissioners hired Olmsted Brothers “for plans and advice for the improvement of Phelps Park” which had been acquired in 1902.  A July 1904 topographic “Working Plan” received by Olmsted Brothers from the City of Seattle shows wood walks running along Seventh Avenue West at the terminus of scenic Highland Drive, above a steep undeveloped hillside. A small sketch on the survey shows possible intentions for a small plaza and lowered walkway.

According to the 1909 Park Commissioners Report, this property “commands a superb view of the harbor and is used largely as a sightseeing point by pleasure vehicles using the magnificent driveways of Queen Anne Hill.” Mysteriously, the park disappeared from the Seattle Parks roster by 1930. Parks historian Donald Sherwood conjectured, “The improvement of Queen Anne Boulevard must have ‘swallowed’ Phelps Place.” Fortunately, the park was reacquired as a donation in 1960. In 1977 Architect Victor Steinbrueck redesigned the viewpoint, which was further enhanced in memory of arts patron Betty Bowen and includes mosaics designed by now-famous Seattle artists. Over the years, trees obscured the panoramic vista and invasive plants overtook the slope below; more recent maintenance practices have restored the view.

Phelps Park fits in the fifth category of Olmsted Brothers’ 1908 parks classification system, “small parks in which landscape beauty is the prime consideration, …they are exceedingly valuable as an important means of making the lives of the people in the neighborhood better worth living.” This small park with its primary useable space being the viewpoint exemplifies Olmsted Brothers exploitation of “borrowed views,” their passion to preserve vistas for public enjoyment and their delight in the outstanding natural setting with which Seattle is blessed.

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