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This Could Have been a Parking Garage

Westlake Park in downtown Seattle has been occupied by protestors for the past several weeks. It is worth remembering that Seattle citizens raised their voices and used their political power to save this space from development in the 1970s. Charles Royer was elected mayor in 1979 on a platform which called for throwing out the “Mondev Plan”, named for the Canadian developer who wanted to build a 300-car garage and hotel at this prominent intersection. 

Designers for the plaza created a design inspired by basket weaving patterns of the Coast Salish. The story goes that the project designers threw a bucket of water on sample pavers at city hall to convince councilmembers that the plaza would look elegant on a rainy Seattle day.

Opened in 1988, Westlake Park was the result of decades of litigation and political bickering. Victor Steinbrueck, the man credited with saving Pike Place Market, led the charge to preserve public space at 4th and Pine in downtown Seattle. Automobiles were prohibited on this section of Pine Street until 1996, when Nordstrom negotiated a deal to bring cars back to Westlake in exchange for opening a flagship store next door. 

Wouldn’t it be great to give this space back to the pedestrians and bicyclists?

Read more: Historylink