A peaceful green island in a sea of traffic, Denny Park lies on the central business district's northern fringe, and is surrounded by major thoroughfares. Broad pathways planted with rhododendrons and azaleas lead to a central circle surrounded by thick crowned maples, pines, and other trees shield the grass and its sprawling occupants from city noises until it's time to return to the working world. The central offices of the Parks Department are at the west end of the park.
Denny Park lies on pioneer David Denny's land claim, and was first donated to the City by Denny and his wife in 1864 as a cemetery. In 1883 the Dennys drew up a new deed rededicating most of the cemetery property to become a public park with the gravesites to be removed at the City's expense. Ordinance 571, approved by the Common Council of the City and Mayor H.G. Struve on July 10 1883, converted, dedicated, and set apart the land donated by Denny as a public park.
In 1894, due to the surrounding increase in urbanization, plans were prepared for improvement of the park. Included in the plans were walks, lawn and planting areas, tool sheds along the north side, a fountain and pavilions with restrooms. By 1903 the park was in the midst of a residential area so it was replanted in formal design, a shelter and tool house were added, swings, teeter-totters, and a sand court and playfield were installed.
In 1910 a regrading of the downtown area was threatening Denny Park. Despite pioneers' demands that the park remain as an early day landmark, by 1930 Denny Park was flat. A cupola from the recent Denny School was placed in the park as a historical relic. A new formal plan was prepared by the Parks and Recreation Department, and new planting was placed and new restrooms were built.
In 1948, because of the Parks and Recreation Department's growth in staff (including the new position of Park Superintendent) and stature, a permanent Administration Building (before the department had moved around in rented offices) was built, despite the objections of the Denny family, on Denny Park. The building was designed by Young and Richardson, Architects, and won the AIA Grand Honor Award. (edited from the files of Don Sherwood, Park Historian, 1916-1981.)
The project includes replacement of the park's pathways and paved areas. In addition, storm drainage, sanitary sewer and irrigation systems will be replaced and upgraded. Potential modifications to the central plaza area may be included in the project and would improve pedestrian circulation, enhance ADA accessibility and provide a more functional community gathering space. Other proposed improvements may include a new central raingarden feature, new benches and planting bed modifications.
Temporarily Closed beginning August 29, 2016. Denny Park Off-Leash Area
This off-leash area of .105 acres is located at 100 Dexter Avenue North in the north-central sector of Denny Park, off John Street. Denny Park was created in 1883 and is the City’s oldest park; influenced by the Olmsted Plan. The park has large trees and is carefully landscaped with grass and an assortment of plantings. There is a children’s play area, benches and recently installed lighting. The off-leash area is temporary until a permanent site is located in the South Lake Union neighborhood. This park and the off-leash area is wheelchair accessible. There is a 4’ tall fence that encloses the off-leash area and double gates at the entrance to ensure your dog’s safety. Surfacing in the off-leash area is granolithic gravel.