Myrtle Edwards Park

Myrtle Edwards Park is located in the Belltown neighborhood at 3130 Alaskan Way, 98121.

When John Charles first visited the city in 1903, much of the downtown area had already been bought up and/or developed to an extent that made establishing parks through this area difficult. But he recognized and identified a couple of opportunities along the waterfront, stating that a “little harbor front park, with all wharf rights and all rights to land under water should be secured either at the boat house at the foot of Battery Street, or at the foot of Denny Way.” Moreover, he urged the city to act quickly, “as otherwise it will become hereafter a very costly matter to provide playgrounds for these districts, which are comparatively remote from other park advantages, and which will before long become densely populated by a class of people for whom the city ought to provide playgrounds.”

Olmsted suggested the “Harbor View Park” might include “a quiet harbor for row boats and small sail boats,” a “shelter open at the sides, for the accommodation of large crowds of people,” and a “sandy beach for bathers.”

The land was not immediately acquired and, when Olmsted was asked in 1910 to prepare a report addressing playground locations throughout, he wrote again of this site, this time expanding his recommendations to include the nearby bluff, with ideas on how to connect the areas more effectively: “The only improvement that would be immediately necessary would be a walk, along the bluff, the smoothing and planting of the bluff and the planting of some shade trees. . . . Later a double deck pier with a bridge over the railroads and Elliott Avenue to the bluff should be provided.”  To further support this vision, Olmsted averred that this park “would correspond very closely to North End Park in Boston in which the high part is separated from the shore part by Atlantic Avenue, with its freight railroad, over which it was planned to build a foot-bridge. . . . “

Olmsted envisioned a shorter park, extending at most from Bay Street to West Thomas Street, than what Seattle has today. After many decades under various ownership, condemnation proceedings and a couple of lawsuits, the shoreline was finally purchased for park purposes beginning in 1968.

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