Seattle Parks and Recreation Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent
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Seattle Parks and Recreation

Historic Resources Plan

Seattle’s historic park resources are an important and irreplaceable component of the park system. This plan establishes a framework for providing the special attention these historic resources deserve.

Since 1884, Seattle’s parks system has enjoyed several periods of enthusiastic expansion. Perhaps the most influential occurred with adoption of the 1903 and 1908 plans of the OImsted Brothers, which prompted a flurry of park acquisition and development. Thanks to the labor made available by the WPA in the wake of the Great Depression, many of the envisioned buildings and structures were realized. The Forward Thrust bond, passed in 1968, and the Pro Parks levy of 2000 are more recent examples of park acquisition and development.

This robust history has left a remarkable legacy. Seattle’s historic park resources tell the story of the City’s growth and change. While the park system will continue to grow and change over time, it is important to recognize and protect those elements that the community values. Additionally, thanks to the Olmsted Brothers’ vision, Seattle’s parks constitute an integrated network, which magnifies their importance to the City.

Recognizing the importance of historic park resources and the threats and opportunities associated with them, this plan first describes the historic context of park development and then presents an analysis of various categories of historic resources. Finally, the plan proposes the following nine strategies for park historic resource management:

  1. Communicate historic resource policies and practices with other City departments and interest groups.
  2. Conduct a preliminary inventory of historic and cultural resources.
  3. Undertake designation of clearly eligible resources.
  4. Establish guidelines for the treatment of historic resources.
  5. Establish criteria and explore options for establishing multiple resource designations for appropriate categories of Parks and Recreation historic resources.
  6. Establish multiple resource designations for appropriate resource categories.
  7. Designate individual parks and/or elements within the multiple resource designations as opportunities arise.
  8. Ensure that internal design review processes for improvements to parks consider historically significant resources.
  9. Continue to train staff regarding historic resources and allocate resources for adequate maintenance.

To completely address the needs of historic park resources, it is also recommended that a plan similar to this one be completed in the near future to examine more recent influences, such as Forward Thrust and Pro Parks.

Note: You can download the document in its entirety, or in sections.

Historic Resources Plan (6.5M PDF)

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Updated May 3, 2007
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