Art in the Park


See Freeway Park featured in the PBS documentary 10 Parks that Changed America.

Located between 6th and 9th Avenues, Freeway Park is bounded on the north by Union and on the south by Spring Street. To the east is First Hill, to the west the park overlooks Seattle's financial center. Freeway Park provides a space where residents, shoppers, downtown office workers, hotel visitors and the whole array of people from all backgrounds who make up the downtown population may come together to enjoy the social elements of a city park. 

Jim Ellis has been a lifelong civic leader who led the effort to create Freeway Park in 1976. Ellis also spearheaded initiatives to clean up Lake Washington in the 1950s; to finance mass transit, parks, pools, and other public facilities through "Forward Thrust" bond issues in the 1960s; to preserve farmlands in the 1970s; to build and later expand the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in the 1980s; and to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway along the I-90 corridor in the 1990s. Most of the projects he was involved in happened only after years of opposition and were a direct result of Mr. Ellis' tenacity. Freeway Park was championed by Jim Ellis and built with the Forward Thrust funds in 1976.

The idea for a downtown park over the freeway is as old as the Seattle segment of Interstate 5 itself. By the time the last light through the city was completed in 1966, public-spirited individuals and the city, county and state officials were already talking about constructing a lid over the below-grade portion separating first hill from downtown.

With Forward Thrust bond money, as well as county, state and federal funding, the five-acre park became a reality in 1976.

Finding Freeway Park Project

The Freeway Park Association (FPA) has been awarded Neighborhood Matching Funds to undergo a community engagement and schematic design process to envision and create improvements to connectivity, visibility and public safety at Freeway Park. The Finding Freeway Park project is a team effort with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Department of Transportation and all the neighbors and visitors to the park.

The FPA has hired SiteWorkshop Landscape Architects to lead this process and develop conceptual design recommendations for future use by the City and the Association. We all envision this community design and planning process as the first step to improve access to this hidden gem and to support the needs of the community within the changing landscape of our City.

While all of FPA's programming and coordination on the recent capital work to improve Freeway Park has brought a significant increase in positive activity, the space remains underused. The goals of the project are to improve visibility into the park from its edges and entrances and create a wayfinding through the interior. Many people don't know the park exists. And because of the lovely, yet meandering, landscape others don't feel safe entering it. SDOT's project team is coordinating mitigating design efforts with the Freeway Park Association work. See Neighborhood Street Fund Freeway Park Entrance Improvements.

At this stage in the history of Freeway Park, we seek to re-evaluate its position in the greater city landscape. Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth right now, making our open spaces even more precious especially those in the downtown core. You can find out more about the project on the Freeway Park Association's website.

Downtown parks special events

Center City Parks are full of  arts, concerts, festivals and random acts of urban fun. Our park concierges have information to help you plan your visit and games so that you can play in the park. Learn more about downtown park events on our Downtown and Center City Parks page.