Chief Seattle Thelma Dewitty Thomas Foley Carrie Chapman Catt Anna Louise Strong Mark Tobey Helene Madison Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

City of Seattle purchases Woodland Park on December 28, 1899. Essay 3529 : Printer-Friendly Format

On December 28, 1899, after much debate, the City of Seattle agrees to purchase Woodland Park for $100,000. The 200-acre tract stretches from the shore of Green Lake to the crest of Phinney Ridge. It was established by developer Guy Phinney (1852-1893), but his widow Nellie (Wright) Phinney (d. 1909) could not maintain the grounds. The park houses a small menagerie which provides the foundation for today's Woodland Park Zoo.

The City paid Nellie Phinney $5,000 in cash and assumed a $95,000 mortgage. Critics of the purchase complained that the park was too distant from the city center, but expanding streetcar service and city annexations soon made it accessible.

From Menagerie to World-Class Zoo

The city expanded the animal collection and opened the Woodland Park Zoological Gardens in 1904. The zoo grounds and Green Lake shore were landscaped five years later according to plans drawn up by John C. Olmsted.

Despite local protests, the zoo was separated from the balance of Woodland Park by the construction of Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue N) in the early 1930s. The City undertook a series of revolutionary exhibit and habitat improvements beginning in the 1970s, and the Woodland Park Zoo is now regarded as one of the top 10 in the nation.

Walt Crowley, The Woodland Park Zoo Guide (Seattle: Woodland Park Zoological Society, 1995); Howard Finny Sr., Finney/Phinney Families in America: Descendents of John Finney of Plymouth and Barnstable, Mass. and Bristol, R.I., of Samuel Finney of Philadelphia, Pa., and of Robert Finney of New London, Pa. (Richmond: The William Byrd Press, Inc., 1957).
Note: This essay was updated on November 10, 2004.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Environment | Seattle Neighborhoods |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Phinney's private streetcar and Woodland Park gate at Fremont N and 50th, Seattle, ca. 1890
Courtesy Woodland Park Zoological Society

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email