Seattle's Freeway Park water fall

Seattle’s Freeway Park waterfall

There’s nothing like it in the entire world, some say.  That was certainly true when the now famous Seattle Freeway water park (running water as in waterfalls) was envisioned in the mind of Jim Ellis.

Now, because of its popularity, there are many places throughout the world that has ‘copied’ the look of the Seattle “water park” better known as Freeway Park.

Jim Ellis was by many, an activist with a great deal of tenacity to get things done…the right way!

His designs and influences are felt all over the city of Seattle.  From the clean up of the entire Lake Washington back in the 1950’s , to mass transit, a great variety of in-the-city-parks, pools, and many, many more public facilities has the Jim Ellis ‘touch.’

His instrument was the “Forward Thrust” program.  He indeed, did look Forward to the future.

He helped preserve farmlands,  was responsible for the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and made the city more GREEN with his Mountains to Sound Greenway all along the I-90 freeway corridor.

Brutish design?

Brutish design?

Freeway Park Fountain

Freeway Park Fountain

Freeway Path through greenery

Freeway Path through greenery

Freeway Park A Reality

The park designs of Angela Danadjieva and Lawrence Halprin & Assoc. completed the first phase of the 5.5 acre park in 1976.

The park design is termed ‘brutalist and greenery’ suspended in air space over the I-5 freeway.

With the many irregular linked plazas that intertwine in and out of each other along with the  board-formed concrete plant containers, walls, “skyscraper” concrete “buildings” and much more, make this a very unique park in the sky.

Making it a great place to enjoy the Seattle skyline.

Separated Yet … Together 

Within the park you’ll take note of the Central Plaza, the East Plaza and the West Plaza.   All separate yet make up a cohesive “whole” of the park itself.   The type of materials that are shared throughout the park make it consistently cohesive.

Take note of the variety of water features.  These are what make the ‘separation’ of each area from the other.  Each is created to bring about differing moods as you walk, sit, enjoy your lunch or read a book in the park.

Be sure and appreciate the “Fourth” space that is incorporated into Freeway Park.  George Tsutakawa created his sculpture of the Naramore Fountain.  However many do not know that it was actually the first structure and Freeway Park was designed around it.

A “Shady Past” To The Park

Though the park now, is beautiful and safe to walk through, not too long ago it was an overgrown jungle of sorts.  As the trees and shrubs grew to maturity, they  provided many hiding places for drug pushers.

Drug use and drug selling along with the homeless made the park a place to stay away from, especially at night.

It was not until the senseless murder in broad daylight of a blind and deaf homeless woman, did the city wake up to put forth a city-wide effort to revitalize, clean up, and reactivate Freeway Park to what it is today.

Community Involvement

When the Seattle Parks and Recreation Dept. got involved, it shared its community vision which in turn, resulted in the park being better balanced between tranquility and other activities along with attractions that turned the park into a desirable place to enjoy.

The four different “places” in the park needed to be emphasized better, along with some types of anchors in the park that folks could see as they passed by and would want to investigate by stopping at the park.

With areas set up for life size games, outdoor cafes, art exhibits, and even an aviary brought people in from all over the Seattle area and beyond.

Click video below and see how Justin Sweeney and his camera enjoy the park.

Since the community involvement, the Seattle “water park” of Freeway Park has been a tremendous success story.  Why not stop in and enjoy its “brutalist architecture and greenery” designs?

Leave a comment below and be sure to share this with your friends.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel

Images by: charlesbirnbaum,freewaypark,justinsweeney

Seattle Science Center and Space Needle

Seattle Science Center and Space Needle

The Seattle Science Center or a.k.a. Pacific Science Center, has been one of those fun places for the entire family.  It stretches our imagination and teaches us really cool stuff.

Have you been?  If you are new to the Seattle area, the Seattle Science Center has changed  much over the years since it’s original beginnings during the Seattle World’s Fair back in 1962.

You’ll note also that the iconic image of the Seattle Space Needle was brand new back then.  It was to be torn down after the World’s Fair was concluded.

The Space Needle not only has a great view of the Seattle area, but has a very nice restaurant at the top on the rotating platform.  You’ll enjoy overlooking Elliott Bay watching the ships come in and go out.

That is where the movie starring Elvis Presley was made.  Entitled “It happened At The World’s Fair”  giving you a quick look into Seattle’s past.

NOTE about the movie :  While Elvis is trying to escape from the security guards with the little girl, he is seen running around some bodies of water.

The bodies of water are located in the Seattle Science Center Science Pavilion area.  Keep in mind though, that the water is only about 12 to 18 inches deep and folks are always tossing coins into it.

During the 1962 World’s Fair, coins were covering the entire bottom!

Funny thing during that movie, Elvis is seen first, helping the little girl,  then himself, climb over a fence to escape the security guards.  But in reality, that gate was located quite some distance away from the Seattle Science Center Pavilion area.  Oh well, that’s Hollywood.

What Will You See

Enjoy dinosaurs?

T-Rex on display

T-Rex on display

How about ocean marine life?  The stars and our Milky Way galaxy?  Brain teasers?  Projects for the kids? How about projects for the “big kids” a.k.a. as adults?

You’ll be amazed and entertained with the huge variety of subjects here in the Science Center.  Feel free to roam the halls, the water exhibits, the solar power project how-to’s, and not to be overlooked, the water power projects.


Brain teaser...can you do it?

Brain teaser…can you do it?

How fast can you fix the Rubik's Cube?.....Or can you?

Can you fix the Rubik’s Cube using the key pad?

Since Washington weather and the Seattle area is known for getting rain most of the year, it’s a great way to learn about hydroelectric power.  Several dams throughout the state make electric power very cheap as compared to the rest of the nation.

How To Locate The Seattle Science Center

Seattle’s Science Center is one the the very easiest things to find, other than the Space Needle that is.  Just head for downtown Seattle, towards the south end on Interstate 5  ( I-5 ) and look for the Space Needle.

If you choose to get into Seattle over Interstate 90 ( I-90 ) across the floating bridge, jump up onto Northbound I-5 and look for the Needle on your left.

Once you spot the Needle, simply work your way towards it, and you’ll be there.

The challenge though, is trying to find a parking place.  Often times you can find one during odd hours of the day, or head over to the Pike Place Market area and park below the Market  close to  Alaskan Way.  Then it’s only a short walk to the Center.

Another location is :  129 Warren Ave. North, Seattle, Washington  98109  Parking Garage

Or, you can use your GPS and type in :  200 2nd Ave. North, Seattle, Washington  98109

It will take you right to your location.  Need information?   Give the friendly folks there a quick phone call and get your questions answered.    206-443-2001

Whatever your interests may be, you’ll come away with your mind swimming with new ideas, knowledge and fun facts.  So…..what are you waiting for?

Mapping your route

Mapping your route

Written by : Tom McDaniel Share this with your friends

Always Something Interesting – The Sights In Downtown Seattle

People watching at the Pike Place Market

People watching at the Pike Place Market

Have you ever been a “people watcher?”  What’s that?  You do not know what “people watching” is?   It is very simple.  You just stand, sit, or walk along and be observant of others around you.  It’s that simple!Even though people watching can be rather interesting, see people from all over, rushing, walking, talking or just strolling by, you do not really learn anything from them.  Everyone seems to always be in a hurry to get somewhere.

But how about you?  Are you in a hurry also?  Hopefully you are not.

I’m now going to introduce you to just a few of the wonderful sights in downtown Seattle.  Now, depending on where your starting point is, it can be different things that will catch your attention.  But, for sake of argument, let’s start down by the water…say…just off Alaskan Way.

Looking North on Alaskan Way

Looking North on Alaskan Way

In the photo on the left, looking north, you will notice the raised parking lot.  The waterfront is directly behind it!  Strolling down the sidewalk you will be at the waters edge.

The seagulls…the vendors selling their foodstuffs…the Old Curiosity Shop (where you will see a real “live” mummy)…the Ivar’s walk-up seafood bar along with all types of other entertaining sights. But what will really catch your attention is the Seattle Great Wheel!

What About The Great Wheel of Seattle?

The Wheel was built in 2012 on Pier 57 by Hal Griffith.

Hal has always wanted to have a Great Wheel in Seattle, but did not know exactly where he could build it and get the attention it deserved.  Then he came upon the idea of building right on his own pier.

So Pier 57 is now the home of the Seattle Great Wheel.

Pier 59 & Seattle Big Wheel

Pier 59 & Seattle Big Wheel










Seattle’s Skyline Is Always Changing

The Seattle skyline is always on the move.   As you enjoy your walk along the water front, you’ll note the old Alaskan Way Viaduct with the traffic flowing north and south…but not for much longer!   Soon the newly dug underground tunnel will be taking its place.  This will change the Seattle waterfront forever…but in a good way.

Freeing up needed space and allowing traffic to avoid any back-ups. However, this is only one of many, many changes and attractions in the downtown area.

Ride The Duck?

Within just a few blocks you can visit the Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way),  the Pacific Science Center (200 2nd Ave N) , the EMP Museum ( 325 5th Ave N) , the Olympic Sculpture Park ( 2901 Western Ave) ,  or you could even Ride The Ducks (516 Broad St) which will give you a ride of a lifetime!  The Duck tours will take you through downtown Seattle allowing you to  see many more attractions, winding up right in the middle of Elliott Bay!

Land and Sea...the Duck will take you there!

Land and Sea…the Duck will take you there!

Don’t worry though, your “duck” is water proof!

 A Fun Way To See Seattle

Something that is quite popular in Seattle that really caught my eye years ago, were these little personal transportation devices on wheels.

A great way to get around downtown Seattle, especially around the water front.

A great way to get around downtown Seattle, especially around the water front

They have become so popular that many have chosen to have their own and use them in their downtown sightseeing and/or commute within the city limits!   Even Bill Gates at the Microsoft headquarters has invited his staff to feel free to use them in his huge office complexes. With these little devices, you can go where you want to and just park it while you enjoy your sights and sounds of Seattle.


A handy bit of transportation at your fingertips!

A handy bit of transportation at your fingertips!

 Pike Place Market   

Now, don’t forget to go to the Seattle Pike Place Market.  It is a fascinating place.  With all the variety of people coming from all over the world to see the market, along with their arts, entertainment, and customs.  It makes the market a favorite place to catch up on your “people watching” skills.

Underground Seattle

Oh, yes, and one more thing that is a real MUST SEE is the Seattle Underground Tours!  You’ll be fascinated with the history and some of the actual “old Seattle” that is still in existence. You’ll be able to look up through the “skylights” that were built into the Seattle sidewalks.

Seattle underground tours getting ready to start in the evening.

Seattle underground tours getting ready to start in the evening.

Do you see them?

Who, you may be asking.  The people that are walking right over the top of you!

You’ll love the tour

. I’ll be writing a new blog post in the not too distant future highlighting the Pike Place Market.

You’ll love it. Hope you enjoyed your “tour” of downtown Seattle.

Be sure and leave me a comment below and share with others.                       Written by: Tom McDaniel


Seattle's Famous Space Needle & Restaurant

Seattle’s Famous Space Needle & Restaurant

The Seattle Space Needle Restaurant is one of those eye catching buildings that all visitors instantly recognize.  It is usually one of the first things people see and think of when the name, Seattle, is mentioned.

Why can we say that?  Because in almost any picture, postcard, TV episode or movie that is featuring Seattle, the Seattle Space Needle is prominently displayed.

It’s revolving restaurant is one of it’s main attractions that people from all over enjoy.  Taking about 60 minutes to make the 180 degree (a full circle) visual trip around the Seattle area while you are enjoying your meal.  Off in the distance, you can see Mount Rainier (ray near) along with the Puget Sound (pew jet) area where ships from around the world come and dock to load or unload their goods.

Enjoy The View!

The Needle is one of the easiest sites to see and find.  It towers above the surrounding buildings in it’s area.  But keep in mind that if you are one who is just a wee bit nervous about heights, then the Needle may not be for you.  At it’s highest point, that is, the top of the aircraft warning beacon, you are at the 605 foot mark.  On the other hand, since no one is allowed there except maintenance crews to change the lights and check the wires, you do not have to be concerned.  (see picture)

Enjoy yourself with your date, family, friends, and everyone else that walks the observation deck at the 520 foot level.  You will absolutely LOVE the view!

Towering Into The Sky

Many of us can recall when the Needle was first started back in 1961.  It was being covered by all the local news media.  Because of it’s shape, location and time constraints, it’s builders were to have it completed within 540 days, or 18 months.  Why so?  Because in the spring of 1962, the Seattle World’s Fair was to be opened.  The Space Needle was to be one of many attractions.  Did they succeed?  Yes indeed!  In fact, from the time construction began, it took a mere 400 days to be completed.


1961 putting up the needle

The Mighty Mississippi River and the Seattle Space Needle

Because of it’s location and year it was built, it had the distinction of being the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, overshadowing the former glory of the Seattle Smith Tower and it’s “tallest building west of the Mississippi” status.  The Smith Tower is still located in downtown Seattle, but, by comparison to other buildings around it, it looks rather small.  Also, even the Seattle Space Needle is viewed as just an average height when it comes to modern day buildings.

Progress keeps moving forward…..and upwards!

The Safety Issue…Is It Needed?

Even though the Needle is now decades old, it was built with more than double the amount of safety standards that were in place in 1962.  Even by today’s tough safety standards, it passes with flying colors.  So, rest assured that when you enjoy your 10 mph or 800 feet per minute or 43 second trip up the Needle’s elevator, you will step out at the top, safe and sound.

Famous People And The Needle

However,  have  you ever wondered who has been to the Needle’s top platform and restaurant?  Just to name a few, had you been there at the right time, you would have seen:

Elvis Presley, Bill Gates at the age of 11, John Travolta, Vanna White, Michael Douglas, and Demi Moore along with a host of other famous people.

In a different line of thought, no one can ever accuse the Seattle people (Seattle-ites) of not having a good sense of humor.  How so?

The Seattle Space Needle Has Fallen Down!!!

One of the local Television News Stations had made a sensational news report that the Seattle Space Needle had fallen over!  Again, many of us can remember that report and wondered how that could have happened!  Needless to say, it was quite shocking to all.  In fact, more than 700 people called into the local station to find out what happened and if they could volunteer to help rescue people and clean up.

Finally, it had to be admitted that it was an April Fool’s prank.   🙂

Just a few more not well know facts about the Needle:

Blowing Up The Space Needle!  Yikes!

When it was first built, it was slated to be torn down at the end of the World’s Fair.  However, so many people were up-in-arms when that information was made known to the general public, that it was deemed to remain and become a permanent part of the Seattle skyline.

And a final note.

A Message From Space?

When the saucer shape of the observation platform and restaurant were first made, along with the tall airplane tower with the light atop it,  it was claimed to be used to send and receive signals to “outer space people” with the hopes of a return message.

Who was responsible for this action?

It was the Committee Hoping for Extra-terrestrial Encounters to Save the Earth.  In other words, it was the CHEESE committee.  Ha Ha……….funny but TRUE!

If you enjoyed this page be sure to share it …   🙂

Want to see more or Seattle?



The Green CHEESE Men From Outer Space? What Do You Think?