One Foot in Front of the Other

There are a lot of murals in Seattle, but few seem to stay as constant as the ones in Wallingford, where you can find eight notable murals on a short stroll. Many of the pieces along this 2.1-mile walk are neighborhood regulars, often commissioned by the small businesses they adorn.

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Take the 44 bus, head over from the University District light-rail station or drive over and park in a nearby neighborhood to enjoy this Wallingford outing. Start your mural walk on the corner of North 45th Street and Stone Way North — and watch out for bears.

Wallingford mural walk

Round-trip distance: 2.1 miles

Just off North 45th Street, by the corner of North 46th Street and Stone Way North, is a mural next to Blue Star Café and Pub and Archie McPhee that features a number of quintessential Seattle characters, like the Fremont troll and the Space Needle, plus a few zoo animals. Start your walk here and make your way east down 45th.

Stay on the same side of the road headed east for two and a half blocks. On the way, you’ll pass the quintessential Seattle Propane Wallingford sign, which often posts thought-provoking questions, jokes and shower thoughts. Some of my favorite contributions: “Lately life has been all panic and no disco,” and, “Have you ever wondered what your dog named you?”

Arrive at Molly Moon’s at 1622 N. 45th St., right before Densmore Avenue. This blue florals piece is instantly recognizable, with its bold colors with a scoop of ice cream and a cherry on top. The mural was created by Teresa Grasseschi, an illustrator, designer and muralist who grew up in Ballard and often visited this Molly Moon’s location with her friends. After she began working professionally as an illustrator, the Molly Moon’s staff reached out to create this mural.

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When designing the mural, Grasseschi considered a few concepts, landing on a theme: What if ice cream were an insect? The mural has elements of symmetrical Mexican textiles made with colorful Otomi fabric; of Danish design, with its graphic flowers and color palette; and references to European tapestries, too. If you grab a scoop of ice cream, snap a photo with the mural (if you hold it just right, it’ll look like your ice cream has wings) and continue your mural tour.

Continuing on North 45th Street, you will arrive at the KeyBank parking lot at 1710 N. 45th St. to find a richly detailed large-scale piece created for Bottleworks, an eclectic beer shop and bar, as a collaboration between They Drift, Miss Merlot, David Teichner, KSRA and Drake Sign and Design. Created by friends of the shop Leah and Emily, the snake design at the edge of the mural features the Bottleworks logo, and the mural was incorporated into the Bottleworks 23rd anniversary beer design.

Cross the street and continue on 45th until you arrive at what once was The Guild 45th, at 2105 N. 45th St., which has been transformed into an abode for the Be So Bears. Created in partnership by Urban ArtWorks and Be So, who brought this space to life, the mural features 45 brightly colored bears in a Pacific Northwest x Emerald City landscape. From certain vantage points, you can see trees in the art line up with trees in the distance. See how many bears you can count!  

Continue just 0.3 miles on Northeast 45th to 201 N.E. 45th St., home of Golden Oldies, where the Beatles are always in town.

Muralist David Heck has been creating hand-painted murals for 38 years now, and he drew inspiration from the iconic Beatles album “Abbey Road” for this piece. There’s even been a wedding in front of this mural depicting the famous album art.  

Continue one more block on 45th to find another world-renowned Brit featured in this piece off the intersection of Northeast 45th Street and Latona Avenue Northeast. On the side of Frame Central, this fun William Shakespeare mural was created by Mark O’Connell. Notice the interplay of textures and colors on Shakespeare’s hat, neck ruffle and striped background, portraying a historical figure with a twist.

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Keep walking a few hundred feet along Northeast 45th Street until you arrive at 403 N.E. 45th St., at the corner of Fourth Avenue Northeast. Located on the outside wall of Slave to the Needle Tattoo, this mural was created by Alester Forx, also known as Cabron, who took inspiration from a 1940s photo of Danish tattoo artists at Tattoo Ole Nyhavn 17, which claims to be the oldest still-running tattoo shop in the world.

What has shark teeth, long legs and a brain for a body? This brainy mural!

The last stop on this mural tour is a stone’s throw from the tattoo parlor. Located on the east wall of Fitchi House, this piece will have you wondering, “What can I do to feed my mind today?”

The character, aka Brainlington, is one you’ll see in a number of pieces by New York-based artist Mr. EWOK ONE, whose murals, exhibitions and high-profile collaborations have been featured around the globe. See if you can find “EWOK” spelled out in the piece.

Once you’ve admired the mural, extend the walk to explore more of Wallingford and head back to our starting point.

Backtrack on 45th to Latona then walk a block south to Northeast 44th Street. A Seattle Stay Healthy Street runs west from Latona on North 44th Street to Burke Avenue North, then dips down to North 43rd Street, passes Wallingford Playfield and reaches its western end at Interlake Avenue North.

Go a block farther to Stone Way, which will lead you directly north a few blocks back to your starting point. Head on home, or, if you want a longer route, just walk the loop again!