A Seattle historian loves to point out artwork in the sidewalk at a Queen Anne Hill viewpoint park.
Tales from the Trail |
Locals and lovebirds head to Betty Bowen Viewpoint at Seattle’s Marshall Park to take in the sweeping view of Puget Sound. Queen Anne historian Michael Herschensohn stares at the sidewalk first.
Etched there, at this Queen Anne Hill park, are some of the best-kept secrets in the Seattle art scene, he said. There are nine squares of abstract artwork, created by some of the biggest names in the Northwest art world — Morris Graves, Guy Anderson and Kenneth Callahan, among others.
“These are works from the post-World War II period. These guys really put Seattle on the map,” said Herschensohn, president of the Queen Anne Historical Society.
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And of course, the view from the park, Seventh Avenue West and West Highland Drive, isn’t bad either, especially at sunset, with Blake and Bainbridge islands in the distance, and ferries and sailboats going by.
High on this perch, Herschensohn points below to the railway yard, grain elevators and relics of Seattle’s past. There’s a good perspective of Seattle art and maritime history here with no crowds, he said.
In 1977 famed Seattle architect and urban activist Victor Steinbrueck enlisted some respected Northwest artists to work on the sidewalks here in honor of the late art pioneer Betty Bowen, who lived nearby.
Time seems to have made these mosaic artworks a distant memory. Folks come here, but more to pose for pictures in front of this majestic backdrop, not realizing the artwork at their feet.
Herschensohn, who leads free neighborhood tours around Queen Anne, has made it his mission to bring attention to this underappreciated park, located across from Parsons Garden.
A former executive director of Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry and of Northwest Folklife Festival, the 71-year-old retired Queen Anne resident these days goes on 100-mile bike rides for fun. He took my call while huffing and puffing up a steep hill, preparing for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP).
He also loves this park because it marks the start of historic Queen Anne Boulevard, also known as the “Crown of Queen Anne.” The boulevard is a 3.7-mile route around the edge of the hill, roughly from the corner of Eighth Avenue West and West Highland Drive to Bigelow Avenue North.
It’s one of the prettiest neighborhood jogging and biking paths in Seattle, highlighted by lamppost-lined streets and grand homes from the end of the 19th century.
The street signs along this route are brown instead of green, to make it easier for joggers and bikers to follow. You should bike or walk this beautiful and serene route that connects all the parks in Upper Queen Anne, said Herschensohn — right after you check out Betty Bowen Viewpoint, of course.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.