Rainier Playfield

Rainier Playfield is located in the Columbia City neighborhood at 3700 S Alaska St, 98118. It is 9.5 acres.

John Charles Olmsted recommended 8.8-acre “Columbia Playfield” – today’s Rainier Playfield — for acquisition in his 1908 report, which had been prepared to identify playfields and parks in the newly annexed areas of the city so as to equalize the distribution of parkland throughout the city. 

Columbia Park, as originally platted in 1891, included the property that is now Rainier Playfield. The park incorporated a ravine draining into Wetmore Slough (now Genesee Park) and Lake Washington. One year later, however, the county vacated the property east of present-day Rainier Ave, allowing that corridor to undergo rail and street improvements.  When Columbia City was annexed in 1907, the parkland west of Rainier Ave was retained as a park, whereas the land east of Rainier was platted for development. Olmsted recommended the city re-acquire this land in his 1908 report, noting that it “is fairly flat and by a moderate amount of grading can be made suitable for playfield purposes.” In 1911 all affected property owners waived their rights to the street ROW’s that had been platted here, opening the way for a park to be realized.

The park’s continued existence was threatened in 1964, when a lawyer for the Rainier Avenue Corporation falsely determined that the ROW’s through the park had not been vacated. An in-depth search for the original documents eventually succeeded, and the park was preserved.

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