Trip Report: North Capitol Hill City Walk

This report covers one of the walks featured in the book “Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City” by David B. Williams. I committed to walking all of the walks in the book as part of a fundraiser for Mountaineers youth programs (this link will remain active during the summer 2017 fundraiser).

The walk begins at Louisa Boren Park, a tiny park with interesting public art pieces and an amazing peek-a-boo view of Lake Washington and the Laurelhurst neighborhood across the water.  The park is nearly directly across the street from the entrance to the Lakeview Cemetary.  The cemetery is not featured in the book but is a worthwhile stop for some impressive grave markers, including the final resting places of Bruce and Brandon Lee.  Founded in 1872, it is one of Seattle’s oldest cemeteries and includes many names from Seattle’s earlier settler families.

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The second stop on the walk is another cemetery, the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery. This cemetery contains the remains of veterans of the American Civil War. Most of those buried here passed away in or near Seattle. Originally owned by a fraternal organization dedicated to Union veterans of the war, the cemetery is now managed by the city’s parks department.

The walk then takes you to the northwest section of Capitol Hill. Much of this area is covered with old homes and is a generally quiet part of the city, save busy 10th Avenue, which cuts through with few pedestrian crossings. Some sights worth checking out in this area include Streissguth Gardens, located on the staircase leading down from Blaine Street and St Mark’s Cathedral on 10th Avenue.

If you follow the itinerary in the book, it will take you past several old mansions and buildings. I won’t go into detail on these but it’s interesting to walk and read a bit about the history of some of these sites.

After passing through Seattle’s original “millionaire’s row” (14th Avenue East), the last major part of the walk takes you into Volunteer Park. I recommend walking up the water tower for 360-degree views of the city and some interpretive signs explaining the park’s origins.

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View of downtown Seattle from the water tower

Other sites worth checking out at volunteer park include the “Black Sun” sculpture across from the Seattle Asian Art Museum (also worth a look when it is open) and the Conservatory.  Be sure to check out the view through the hole of the sun. At the right angle, it perfectly frames a view of the Space Needle in the distance.

As we finished our walk on this sunny June evening, we were met by a local activist from the Volunteer Park Trust organization who told us about some of their neighborhood activism against the current expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (it blocks views and goes against the original Olmstead vision of the park) as well as some work they were doing on amphitheatre improvements in the park.

We ended the night with an 8 pm visit to the graves pictured at the start of this post. If you do visit the Lakeview Cemetery, getting there before 8 pm is advised. We were lucky in that the security guard there waited for us before locking the gate (the cemetery closes at 8 pm).

The start and end point of this route are served by King County Metro route 10.  It is also adjacent to Interlaken Park, with trails that can take you through a pleasant wooded area nearly all the way down to 24th Avenue and additional transit options. Visit King County Metro for the most current transit information.

Keep calm and walk on.

-Elliott

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