Olmsted Parks and Boulevards Restoration Project

Updated: May 13, 2021

Spring 2021

This essential maintenance project provides funding to rehabilitate Olmsted-influenced and Olmsted-designed landscapes in Seattle's Olmsted Parks and Boulevards. The rehabilitation of cultural landscapes maintains historic character while addressing emerging or ongoing needs for use. The term "rehabilitation" defines a category of historic treatment under the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes (1992).

Seattle's Olmsted Parks and Boulevards began as a dream the City of Seattle had in the late 1800's for a beautiful system of landscapes among urban growth. This vision was implemented in the form of parks throughout the city designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. The basis of design for these parks was to allow access to attractive open spaces and provide peace and respite for people from all walks of life.

Seattle Parks and Recreation used findings from the 2018 Olmsted Parks Study to select three priority sites for improvement based on maximizing improvements to the general safety and health of those in and around each site. Selected sites are Schmitz Boulevard, Magnolia Boulevard, and Lake Washington Boulevard parks -Colman Park.

Three project sites
   1. Lake Washington Boulevard parks
        • Colman Park project seeks to improve the drainage and landscape of the area near the upper bridge. 
   2. Magnolia Boulevard seeks to implement the community vision vegetation management plan for the area, bring back the historically significant Madrona trees, and address slope stabilization.
   3. Schmitz Boulevard project seeks to make permanent an informal pathway up a steep hillside for safety. Construction begins mid-May 2021. See press release.

These three projects were prioritized for construction due to their ability to provide maximum relief to several maintenance concerns. The three sites have suffered from deferred major maintenance due to budget constraints over an extended period of time. Resulting problems have caused health safety and welfare concerns. These concerns include invasive plant species, hazardous large trees, erosive slopes, and poor drainage, among other concerns.

The prioritization was based upon community feedback received in early 2019. Thank you to the over 1300 people who participated in the online survey and helped us prioritize the funding allocation. View the prioritization document and survey results below. This prioritization of project sites was used to select additional projects that are about to begin design in 2021. For each of these projects, the design process will include a reduction from the full scope of work as outlined in the 2018 Olmsted Study to prioritize issues that most strongly relate to health, safety and welfare and rehabilitation of Olmsted site features. This prioritization is necessary because the original scope and budget does not align with the current project funding. These projects are:
   • Lake Washington Boulevard Mt. Baker Slopes
   • Hiawatha
   • Lower Woodland
   • Lakeview Park (pending availability of funding)  


Study funded by the Seattle Park District


Construction: Spring - Fall 2021

Background Information/Documents

Olmsted Parks Study Report - October 2018
Olmsted Park Study Improvement Prioritization - April 10, 2019

Community Participation

The online survey is closed - Thank you to everyone who provided input through the online survey. View the survey results here.

Important Links

For more information on Seattle's Olmsted Parks visit https://www.seattleolmsted.org/