Seattle Parks and Recreation Information:
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ABOUT THE PARK
Jefferson Park, the sixth largest park in the city, offers unparalleled views of the Duwamish River, the city and the Olympic Mountains. The Olmsted inspired path system flanked by trees offers a wonderful respite from city life along with many active opportunities. The covering of the reservoirs and two voter-approved Park levies transformed the park into a great community gathering place for southeast Seattle. It is the home to the Jefferson Park Golf Course, the Jefferson Community Center, Jefferson Lawn Bowling, Jefferson Skatepark and Beacon Mountain.Acreage: 45.2
Since the first days of the park in the early 20th century, several diverse elements have called this site home. The City of Seattle purchased the State school land in 1898 for a reservoir and cemetery that were later sited elsewhere. In 1908, the City named the park to honor the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
The Jefferson Park Golf Course, Seattle’s oldest municipal golf course, opened for play in 1915. The area occupied by the golf course and adjacent park was part of the original Seattle park master plan developed by the Olmsted brothers in 1903, and the golf course and the park roadway on the west side were built as planned. Other features of the master plan west of Beacon Avenue were not implemented (source: Seattle Parks and Recreation Historic Resource Plan, 2004).
The Jefferson Community Center was originally constructed in 1929. An addition was built in 1949, and in 1972 the center was remodeled and expanded. In 2012 Parks completed seismic and electrical upgrades. The building now operates as an official emergency shelter.
The northwest portion of the park site was transferred to the Water Department in 1935 for construction of a reservoir. The unused portion of the Water Department site was developed into a playground by permit with Seattle Parks and Recreation.
There is lawn bowling green in the southwest corner of the park. Constructed in 1944, it has been operated by the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club under an agreement with Seattle Parks since 1945.
In the late 1990s early 2000s, with substantial community participation and in collaboration with Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, Seattle Department of Transportation, the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Neighborhoods. Parks undertook planning and design for park improvements. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) decommissioned the north reservoir and reconstructed the south reservoir as a buried reservoir with a hard cover.
The 2000 Pro Parks Levy provided funding for improvements to the park. The new play area and tennis courts opened in 2010. Parks removed construction fencing from around the lidded reservoir in 2011. This area now provides opportunities for scheduled ball sports including cricket, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee.
The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy funded additional improvements including the Jefferson Park Skatepark completed in January 2012. The features of the skatepark include a deep bowl alongside shallower bowls, a shallow hexagonal elevated dish, and streetscape features.
In July 2012, the community celebrated the opening of more park amenities at the Jefferson Jubilee. These amenities include:
Beacon Mountain, a community initiated project intended to be an ecologically oriented playscape. The Mountain is envisioned as a climbable collection of slopes and boulders with on-grade slides and a spraypark sprinkler for summer cooling and fun.
Solar Picnic Shelters with solar panels rooftops were constructed by Seattle City Light. One location is adjacent to Beacon Mountain, and the other adjacent to the sportsmeadow/lid. The solar energy feeds into Seattle City Light's electric grid. As with all grid-tied energy sources, the electrons will be used by the nearest load (meaning it will help power the park's lights, and possibly the community center). Essentially, this means less energy from traditional sources brought in to meet the local demand.
Jefferson Park Playfield is another park component funded by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy. The renovation includes a synthetic turf field with lighting.
During the 1920s, Japanese-American residents used the park for picnics and related leisure activities. The opening celebration in July 2012 for the park marked the 100th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. Planted in Washington, D.C. in 1912, these cherry blossom trees have become a symbol of the warm relationship between Japan and the US. The Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival Committee donated 25 cherry trees to be planted at Jefferson Park.
(edited from the files of Don Sherwood, 1916-1981, Park Historian)
To learn more about Seattle Parks and Recreation, including historic landmarks, military base reuse, and the Sherwood History Files, view our Park History.
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PROJECTS & PLANNING
Neighborhood Matching Fund
Parks & Green Spaces Levy