Victor Steinbrueck Park
Victor Steinbrueck Park is a 0.8 acre (3,000 m²) park overlooking Elliott Bay from Downtown Seattle, Washington, USA. Located just northwest of Pike Place Market, between Western Avenue and the Alaskan Way Viaduct at the foot of Virginia Street, the park overlaps the former site of the Washington National Guard Armory, built c. 1909, damaged by fire in 1962 during an era where the future of the Market itself was a contentious issue, and torn down in 1968.
Seattle architect Victor Steinbrueck, who was instrumental in the preservation of Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, wrote of this location in 1968, "One of the grandest downtown lookout places is at Western Avenue where it meets Pike Place and Virginia Street. It has been neglected by the city and its possibilities for enjoyment are ignored except by a few habitués and passing pedestrians." Steinbrueck was strongly opposed to the demolition of the armory. "Buildings like this," he wrote, "(and there are very few) offer an irreplaceable tie with the past as well as adding variety and interest to new surroundings. Restoration is not at all impossible or difficult for sympathetic designers. Others can always find practical reasons for destruction."
The city purchased the land in 1968, demolished the remnant of the armory, and transferred ownership to the parks department in 1970. The park was landscaped in 1982 as Market Park. Two cedar totem poles, designed by Victor Steinbrueck himself and carved by James Bender, were added in 1984. After Steinbrueck's death in 1985, the park was renamed after him. Steinbrueck's son Peter, also an architect, would later serve on the Seattle City Council 1997–2007.
The park is a popular gathering place for tourists, but also for the mentally ill, vagrants, alcoholics, and drug addicts. Public inebriation, nudity, and calls for assistance for unconscious individuals are common; a fall-off due to increased policing in the 1990s proved short-lived. There are a lot of drug-related misdemeanors and even minor felonies, though there have been no homicides.
- Victor Steinbrueck Park, official site, accessed online 28 March 2008, says simply that the park is on the site of the armory, but the Sanborn maps of Seattle (volume 2, 1950, plate 128) accessed online through Proquest 28 March 2008, shows the armory as extending as far north as Lenora Street (beyond the northern boundary of the park), and not extending quite as far south as Virginia Street (whereas the park extends considerably south of Virginia Street).
- Victor Steinbrueck Park, official site. Accessed online 28 March 2008.
- Victor Steinbrueck, Market Sketchbook (1968), University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1978 ISBN 0-295-95631-3. No page numbers.
- Public Art Map Seattle, p. 10.
- Casey McNerthney, Solutions sought at crime-plagued Steinbrueck Park, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 13, 2007. Accessed 28 March 2008.