Westlake Park (Seattle)

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Westlake Park.
Building Westlake Park, circa 1987.
Carousel at Westlake Park for the holiday season

Westlake Park is a 0.1-acre (400 m2) public plaza in downtown Seattle, Washington, USA. Extending east from 4th Avenue up to and including a former portion of Westlake Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets, it is across Pine Street from the Westlake Center shopping mall, which is the southern terminus of the Seattle Center Monorail and the northern terminus of the Central Link light rail. The park and mall are named for Westlake Avenue, which now terminates north of the mall, but once ran two blocks farther south to Pike Street through the present site of the mall and park. Westlake Park is considered Seattle's "town square"[1] and celebrities and political figures often make appearances or give speeches from the four-story shopping center's balcony.[2][3]

The southernmost block of Westlake Avenue (between Pike and Pine) was closed to traffic in the early 1960s to construct the original southern terminus of the Monorail. This arrangement continued from the time the Monorail opened in 1962 (in conjunction with the Century 21 Exposition) until the construction of the current mall and park.[4][5]

The park and mall were proposed by the Central Association (now Downtown Seattle Association) in 1968; they took 20 years to come to fruition, with multiple lawsuits along the way.[6] When the park first opened in 1988, Pine Street was closed to through traffic, making it effectively part of the park, and tying the park to the open area on the south side of the mall. However, Seattle citizens voted in 1995 to reopen the street, as part of a deal under which Nordstrom took over the flagship store of the former Frederick & Nelson department store chain, a Seattle landmark half a block from the park.[7] For several years in the mid-1990s Westlake Park was the site of a string of guerrilla art pranks lead by Jason Sprinkle and the Fabricators of the Attachment, culminating in an infamous bomb scare incident that closed off several downtown blocks.[8]

Adjacent to the southernmost portion of the park is the Seaboard Building, another designated Seattle landmark. This 1909 headquarters of the Northern Bank & Trust Co. was one of the first major commercial buildings this far north in Seattle's downtown; all but the ground floor are now condominium apartments.[9][10] Diagonally across from the park at 4th and Pine is a Macy's department store, also a city landmark as the former flagship store of the Bon Marché chain.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Downtown Parks Renaissance, Seattle Downtown Parks & Public Spaces Task Force Report, March 16, 2006. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  2. ^ Executive Sims' National Day of Prayer and Remembrance address, September 14, 2001, King County Executive Ron Sims on the official King County site. Includes video. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  3. ^ Kevin Pelton, Storm Celebrates in Style, storm.wnba.com, October 16, 2004. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  4. ^ Monorail at Westlake Station, Seattle World's Fair, 1962, King County Snapshots, University of Washington Libraries. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Reinhard Krischer, Alweg Seattle Chronology, Alweg Monorail Rapid Transit History, The Alweg Archives. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  6. ^ Alan J. Stein, Seattle's Central Association unveils Westlake Center plans on December 3, 1968, HistoryLink, July 28, 1999. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  7. ^ Patrick McRoberts, http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=1622, HistoryLink, August 10, 1999. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  8. ^ "Westlake: where Seattle goes to fight with itself". crosscut.com. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2013-05-18. 
  9. ^ Ari Kramer, Seaboard Building helps make Seattle 24-hour city, Puget Sound Business Journal, December 7, 2001. Accessed online March 27, 2008.
  10. ^ Lawrence Kreisman, Downtown Oasis, Pacific Northwest magazine, Seattle Times, 2001. Accessed online March 27, 2008.

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