The Jungle (Seattle)

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Coordinates: 47°34′30″N 122°19′6″W / 47.57500°N 122.31833°W / 47.57500; -122.31833

Downtown Seattle from a wooded hill
Downtown Seattle as seen from near The Jungle

The Jungle is a greenbelt on the western slope of Beacon Hill in Seattle that is known for its homeless encampments and crime.

Location and ecology[edit]

The Jungle grows on the steep northern slope of Beacon Hill near the south-end of Downtown Seattle. Being bound by Interstate 5 to the west and Interstate 90 to the north, the land is primarily managed by the city and state departments of transportation. The thin tract of land is about 100 acres (40 ha) and extends south to the Georgetown neighborhood.[1] The wooded area can be entered through Rizal Park, highway maintenance roads, or residential areas on Beacon Hill.

Thick blackberry brambles and vines grow among maple and other trees in the urban forest.[2] Various rodents—including rats—and numerous species of birds are common.


Homeless people may have used the area as early as the 1930s.[1] It gained notoriety in the 1990s when the city began razing the encampments.[3] In 1994, about 50 campsites yielded 120 tons of trash.[4] Seattle's organized tent cities for the homeless are offshoots of illegal communities that formed after squatters were forcibly removed from The Jungle.[2][5] Periodic bulldozing since the '90s by the city or state department of transportation has led the homeless to complain that the city provides little to no warning before enacting cleanups.[6]

The Jungle increasingly became a haven for criminals in the 2000s.[7] Criminal activity has included assaults, rapes, prostitution, and murders.[8] Residences in the Beacon Hill neighborhood have been burglarized by those staying in The Jungle. Gang members basing drug trade in the woods also became a concern.[9] The Jungle is generally considered unsafe at any hour. Weapons, used drug paraphernalia, presumably stolen goods, and human feces are typically seen during the city and state sweeps.[10] In 2007, criminal activity increased when the city suspended sweeps of The Jungle based on criticism of clean-up operations in another neighborhood.

There have been many deaths in and around the greenbelt. Between September 1997 and February 1998, the bodies of three women murdered by a serial killer were found in the area. There have been numerous lower-profile murders. Transients have been killed attempting to cross the nearby freeways. A homeless man was inadvertently killed in June 2007 as workers were mowing a blackberry thicket he was sleeping in.[11]

The city announced plans to revitalize the greenbelt with an extension of the Mountain to Sound bike corridor through the Jungle that opened in the fall of 2011. The trail features a paved path, lighting, and fences.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b Vaughn, Adam (February 16, 2008). "Seattle's Homeless Jungle". One World Report. KBCS-FM. 
  2. ^ a b Martin, Jonathan (October 19, 2003). "Crime in homeless camp sparks cleanup". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ Keene, Linda (June 27, 1994). "`Jungle' For Homeless Will Be Swept Into Extinction -- City Squatters Readied For Move". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Tons of trash taken from 'Jungle'". The Spokesman-Review. August 14, 1994. p. B3. 
  5. ^ Clarridge, Christine (June 11, 1998). "Tents For Homeless Replace Beacon Hill `Jungle'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ Gillis, Cydney (March 17, 2010). "State saves few of belongings called out in policy". Real Change. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ Thompson, Craig (October 22, 2005). "South End positions itself as kingmaker". The Seattle-Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  8. ^ Flick, John (April 29, 2011). "Seattle planning to clean up Beacon Hill 'jungle'". 6:00 News. KOMO 4. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Craig (December 8, 2007). "Homeless camp sweeps needed". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ Brodeur, Nicole (November 30, 2007). "Homeless haven, or hellhole?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ Thompson, Craig (August 18, 2011). "Changes come to 'the Jungle' near I-5 in Seattle". Crosscut Public Media. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ Arcega-Dunn, Maria (June 8, 2011). "City to transform notorious homeless encampment "The Jungle"". Q13 Fox News. Q13 Fox. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  13. ^ Estaban, Michelle. "New trail to cut through Jungle, connect to South Seattle". KOMO 4 News. KOMO TV date=July 14th, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 

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