North Ballard Parkway (unrealized)

This is one of several parkways, never built, that were recommended by Olmsted in his 1908 supplemental report. The 1908 study specifically addressed recently annexed areas of the city, including West Seattle, Ballard and south Seattle. The network of “pleasure drives” that Olmsted envisioned aimed to extend the connected system of parks and boulevards into these newer city areas, and the routes he proposed responded to the local topography and features of the region to help provide a heightened experience of one’s surroundings. As John Charles penned in the 1908 report, these parkways were to provide “an appreciable amount of informal natural landscape beauty.” These parkways also would have connected and sometimes traversed park parcels dedicated for recreation and/or scenic beauty.

Olmsted recommended in his 1908 report that the parkway “vary in width from 150 to 360 feet,” noting also that it “should be planned with due regard for economy in land takings and grading with the aid of a detailed topographical map.” John Charles suggested the parkway travel due west from the northwest corner of Woodland Park until it hit the crest of Phinney Ridge.  “It would then turn and slant northwesterly down the hillside to the valley, where it would gradually curve westerly and continue, with such curves as might be desirable to accommodate irregularities of the ground, about one block south of the boundary to Ballard Bluff [Sunset Hill] Park.” He further suggested that another connecting “pleasure drive” might extend north and beyond city limits from this spot “by a very winding course, because of ravines, to the new golf grounds [The Highlands] and perhaps further,” should the county or a metropolitan park commission decide to take on this effort. 

For the entire route, he recommended keeping the grade to 4% or less.

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