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Seattle Parks and Recreation

City Hall Park

 
Address: 450 3rd Ave, 98119 (Map It)
Seattle Parks and Recreation Information:
(206) 684-4075 | Contact Us TTY Phone: (206) 233-1509

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HOURS

6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

ABOUT THE PARK

Bordering on the south side of the King County Public Safety Building, this former battlefield is now a small walking and sitting space filled with grass, trees, benches, small tables, and chairs. A small oak here commemorates the founding of the United Nations, and a plaque with cannonball recalls the 1865 Battle of Seattle, when Indians led by Chief Leschi attacked the pioneer village in a last effort to save their l and. The battle was short lived, however, largely because of the fire power of the gunship Decatur, moored in Elliott Bay. During freeway construction in 1964, several more cannonballs were unearthed below Harborview Hospital. City Hall park, in keeping with its military history, was used as a drill ground for troops during World War II.

(Excerpted from Enjoying Seattle's Parks by Brandt Morgan.)

Acreage: 1.3

HISTORY

What is now City Hall Park was originally known as “Fortson Square”, named for Captain George H. Fortson and other Seattle volunteers who died in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. City Hall Park was also the site of an Indian attack on the pioneer village in 1856. Known as the “Battle of Seattle” it was allegedly led by Chief Leschi of the Nisqually Native American tribe, who was hanged for murder in 1858, and was exonerated in 2004. In 1883 the site was purchased by King County and a frame courthouse was constructed. A second courthouse was built to the east, on “Profanity Hill”, so named by judges, lawyers etc. who climbed the hill daily. This is now the site of Harborview Hospital. The frame building and site were finally sold in 1890 (the 1889 Great Fire did not burn this far) to the City for City Hall. In 1909 city offices were moved to the “Flatiron Building” at 4th Avenue and Yesler until 1951, when the hall was wrecked and the empty lot became a dump. In 1911, Mayor Dilling asked the Park Dept. to improve and maintain “only downtown park”. From 1942 through 1944 the site was a drill ground and outdoor recreation field for Seattle Air Defense Wing Fighter Command with quarters at Frye Hotel on the opposite southeast corner. In 1955 a pin oak tree was planted to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the United Nations, and finally in 1962 city offices were moved into the Municipal Building at 4th and James.

(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.

VOLUNTEER

In our large parks and recreation system, we could not do what we do without you.
» volunteer in a park!

PROJECTS & PLANNING

Thinking about serving a meal in a Downtown Park?
- Feeding the hungry in Downtown Parks




City Hall Park in 1917. Photograph courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives.

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