Observatory Courts

Observatory Courts is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood at 1405 Warren Ave N, 98109. It is 0.8 acres.

In 1900, the city purchased this high point on Queen Anne and built two water tanks with an observatory gallery on top. The view platform must have been popularly used, for two years later the city officially named this property “Observatory Park,” and in 1906 the city built a similar water tower with viewing gallery in Volunteer Park.

John Charles Olmsted noted this popular use and recommended the property for a park in his 1903 report, stating that “[e]nough land should be added to the ground of the water tower to secure the west and southwest views and to form a local pleasure ground.” He also proposed a boulevard route atop the hill that led to this spot, though by 1908 that route had been abandoned in favor of one proposed by local residents that generally ringed the hilltop (see Queen Anne Boulevard). In 1911 this property was transferred to the Parks Department, although with the stipulation that fire houses, standpipes, water towers and other appurtenances may be built and maintained on the site. Parks immediately made site improvements with grading and landscaping, including flower beds, of the site. Sometime during this early period, Fire Station #8 was constructed on the site’s northeast section.

By 1934, perceived misuse of the observation gallery was creating too much of a nuisance, so the gallery was closed and the stairway to the platform removed. Later the same decade, in 1939, tennis courts were added to the site. In 1950, a microwave station was added in the northwest corner. Over the years since, improvements and updates to the fire station have caused some tennis courts to be relocated, but these utility uses still co-exist with the tennis courts on this property.

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