Ideas for enjoying the real life of Seattle (that often cost little or nothing).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hidden Treasure – Freeway Park

Tucked behind Seattle’s Convention Center and the Union Square buildings, and over a small cap covering a portion of the I-5 freeway, is Freeway Park, an intricate web of walkways, thick landscaping, and restful cubbyholes hiding in plain sight in the middle of the city's business district. The respite from the downtown streets is over 5 acres in size, but given its inconspicuous location, it is one of those special places in Seattle that you must know about (or be an intrepid and fortunate wanderer) to find.

Above: A bright red information kiosk with map stands among the lush plantings.

The park reflects the highrises of the city by use of a “Brutalist” hardscape using heavy forms of concrete to define the spaces of the park’s many “outdoor rooms.” This architecture is balanced by the dense plantings of evergreens and flowering shrubs, trees and annuals. There are highlights of sculpture and a large waterfall at its south end (only on in the late spring to early fall).

Right: An arbored "hallway" between garden rooms.

The park is strewn with benches and summertime lunch hour finds it packed with office workers reading, napping, or chatting over a brown bag meal. The one drawback of the park is the incessant drone of the freeway traffic. However, it is not overpowering and falls into “white noise” status after a while.

Left and Below: Two sculptures at the north end of the park, near the Convention Center.

Only 4 or 5 blocks from the center of Seattle’s retail district, Freeway Park provides a nice break from the shopping frenzy. To-go lunches can be found in the concourse at nearby Two Union Square.

Left: This Escher-esque edifice is a wall of falling water in the summertime.

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Anonymous Forrest said...

Freeway Park doesn't have the best reputation in the world, but, daylight hours anyway it's a surprisingly beautiful place to be. A nice but very minor escape from the city with trees, grass, flowers, and even a few waterfalls ... you could take a nap on a busy workday and think, for just a split second, that you were camping in the woods.

12:47 AM


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