Olmsted Park Plans for Seattle Tour

  • By HistoryLink and Friends of Olmsted Parks
  • Posted 9/29/2004
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7054
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This is a tour of the parks, playfields, and boulevards laid out by famed landscape designer John Charles Olmsted in his 1903 and 1908 plans for the Seattle Parks Board. It was prepared by HistoryLink with Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks to commemorate the centennial of John C. Olmsted's arrival in Seattle on April 30, 1903. Original map art by Marie McCaffery.

The Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm designed the majority of Seattle's parks. The firm's principal designer in Seattle was John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), nephew and stepson of the well-known Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), who designed New York City's Central Park.

Olmsted's 1903 master plan laid out a 20-mile-long greensward of parks and boulevards that ran from Seward Park along Lake Washington and across the city via Woodland Park to Discovery Park. Olmsted also designed the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (on the University of Washington campus) in 1909 and the Highlands subdivision. (The Highlands is a "gated community" on Puget Sound immediately north of the Seattle City Limits.) He is credited with introducing the playground concept to the city.

Information is available on selected Olmsted parks.

1903 Plan

  1. Sunset Hill Park
  2. Green Lake Park
  3. Ravenna Blvd., Ravenna & Cowen Park
  4. Woodland Park
  5. Magnolia Bluff
  6. Queen Anne Blvd.
  7. Interlaken Park
  8. Washington Park Arboretum
  9. Volunteer Park
  10. Lincoln Park (Capitol Hill), later Cal Anderson Park
  11. Madrona Park
  12. Frink Park
  13. Colman Park
  14. Mt. Baker Park & Blvd.
  15. Jefferson Park
  16. Seward Park

1908 Plan

  1. Hiawatha Playfield
  2. Schmitz Park
  3. Lincoln Park

Other Olmsted Plans

  1. Fort Lawton
  2. Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

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