Pritchard Island Beach

Pritchard Island Beach is located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood at 8400 55th Ave S, 98118. It is 8.8 acres.

Before Lake Washington was lowered in 1917, the southern portion of this park was underwater and known as Dunlap Slough. The promontory just to the east was called Pritchard Island.  John Charles recommended that Pritchard Island, the slough separating the island from the shore, and some of the main shore, with their “very notable landscape advantages, . . . be secured. . . as an objective point for the Lake Washington shore drive. . . .” In his 1908 supplemental report, Olmsted envisioned extending a shoreline parkway south of Seward Park to this location, and from this point turning westward to make inland connections to Beacon Hill, South Park and West Seattle.

At this time, the City was busy implementing the 1903 Olmsted Plan for Parks and Playgrounds in preparation for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and so there were no immediate plans to acquire this property. In his 1910 report, Olmsted again prompted purchase of this property: “We have heretofore urged that this most important landscape feature, together with the marsh between it and the main shore be secured at an early date before it becomes too expensively improved in private occupation and before the remaining trees are cut or injured.”  

In 1920, concerns for providing a suitable bathing beach in this area (the cove at Atlantic City Park was unsafe due to nearby sewer outfall) prompted Parks to build a bathing pier several blocks south, at the end of Keppler Street. But by 1927, the shoreline area at the north end of Island Drive was also being used informally as a bathing beach, and efforts renewed to purchase the area as city parkland. Parks acquired the shoreline property in 1934 and the former “slough” property, to be used as a plant nursery, the following year.

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