Born Again in Seattle
A neighborhood hangout for drug users has been converted into a well-loved park.
By Mark Hinshaw
Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is one of the city’s
quirkiest. Located several blocks east of downtown, the district is the
epicenter of “alternative” lifestyles. Gay and lesbian couples stroll hand in
hand along Broadway, which serves as the neighborhood’s main street. But they
are just one part of the diverse population, which includes hip singles, many
of whom sport amazing hairstyles, tattoos, and body piercings. All manner of
homegrown shops, espresso bars, cafés, and nightspots line the street, which
bustles day and night.
The district is filled with a rich array of artistic
enterprises. In addition to art galleries, the district hosts the annual
Seattle International Film Festival, which packs hundreds of films into three
weeks. The Fringe Theatre Festival is also popular, with venues tucked into
lofts and former warehouses. The immense Gay Pride Parade is frequently led by
the mayor and the police chief.
Until a few years ago, a few hundred feet east of Broadway
at the south end of the district, an open-air water reservoir consumed half of
a city block. Surrounded by chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire, it was
the first holding pond built by the city to draw potable water from a river
many miles away. The other half of the block held a clutch of playfields and a
Though not especially elegant or distinguished, the block
had a provenance. Early in the twentieth century it had been designed by the
Olmsted brothers and dubbed Lincoln Park. By the end of the century, it was a
troubled place. Drug users and dealers had virtually taken it over; the
restroom was vandalized and covered in graffiti. Few residents thought of the
place as a neighborhood amenity. As if to add insult to injury, even its name
had been stripped away and assigned to another park elsewhere in the city.
…To read the entire article, subscribe to LAM!
What's New |
LAND | Annual
Product Profiles & Directory