North of Broad Street, where the waterfront turns slightly north, was once a small cove where the Duwamish often beached their dugout canoes...
North of Broad Street, where the waterfront turns slightly north, was once a small cove where the Duwamish often beached their dugout canoes, sometimes to walk a worn path to the fresh waters of Lake Union. We might doubly call this Eagle Cove, first after Eagle Street that ends here and now also for the Olympic Sculpture Park’s soaring piece of public art, Alexander Calder’s Eagle.
The beach is still exposed in the historical scene, which was photographed from the railroad trestle that first crossed in front of the cove in 1887. Here, modest residences, squatters’ shacks and floating homes are scattered about the two blocks between the beach and Western Avenue, to both sides of Eagle Street. But this ca. 1909 scene is doomed. The Union Oil Co. bought and cleared these blocks to install its first waterfront row of tanks in 1910.
After the fuel facility closed in 1975 these predictably polluted acres were scrubbed and then sold at a bargain price to the Seattle Art Museum and the city. The result is a belated fulfillment of two visions: first, of the Olmsted Brothers’ 1903 description of a Harbor View Park running in part through these blocks, and later of parks commissioner Sol G. Levy’s radical 1951 proposal that much of the central waterfront be ridded of its wharfs and railroads and seeded for a park.
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The city got its first central Waterfront Park at the foot of Union Street in 1974, but the greener visions of both the famous Boston brothers and the local Levy are better fulfilled with SAM’s new nine-acre sculpture garden, especially when enjoyed in tandem with Myrtle Edwards Park to the north.
“Washington Then and Now,” the new book by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.