Seattle dedicates new park and monument honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on November 16, 1991.

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 1/17/2002
  • Essay 3672
See Additional Media

On November 16, 1991, the City of Seattle dedicates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at S Waller Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. The park features a fountain and sculpture designed by Robert W. Kelly to evoke Dr. King's famous "Mountaintop" address made in Memphis in 1968.

The name of former Empire Way (which originally honored Great Northern Railroad “Empire Builder” James J. Hill) had been changed in 1982 to Martin Luther King Jr. Way as the result of a campaign led by black contractor and activist Eddie Rye Jr. Earlier, in 1974, the Seattle School Board renamed the Benjamin Harrison Early Childhood Center at 3201 E Republican to honor Dr. King at the behest of its students. In 1986, the King County Council adopted resolution 6461 naming the County for Dr. King in place of its original eponym, Vice President (and slave owner) William Rufus de Vane King.

On April 19, 2005, King County was officially renamed in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when Governor Christine Gregoire (b. 1947) signed into law Senate Bill 5332. The signing and ceremony took place in King County Courthouse in Seattle.


Mary T. Henry, Tribute, Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997) pp. 39-42; "State Law Changed to Rename King County," News Release, Ron Sims (King County Executive) website (
Note: This essay was updated on October 16, 2005.

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