I have to admit, the last time I’d walked through Denny Park with tour guests, I had to look back to make sure nobody was following us. We’d been among pan-handlers the length of the diagonal walkway. Then, I had to look ahead cautiously to decide which gritty construction site we’d be passing on our way downtown.
The improvements to Denny Park recently were celebrated, but I didn’t notice much added except the bright chairs and tables. In fact, many improvements were to irrigation and drainage, and lighting and pathways. These are important updates, and certainly worth doing, but I think my expectations were too high.
This is the oldest park in Seattle. The land was donated by David Denny, one of the founding-family members, and became the city’s cemetery. And like most cemeteries, it was on the edge of the town which grew from Pioneer Square.
The land regrades changed the park dimensions over the years, and the folks buried there now rest at Lakeview cemetery on Capitol Hill, but Denny park remains a treasured green space with many plants, and tall trees.
The modern park has a better walk-through area, and an off-leash dog park, and children’s play area. I imagine that the labyrinth walk could bring a sense of relaxation as much as quietly sitting under the boughs of the old trees.
The basketball courts across the street added to the feeling of community space, but they are not likely to stay under the push for vertical development. This little square of green will have to do.
I hope some historical notes will be added to the park, as well as some art that will remind us where we are. Not the art of glass spheres and contrived plazas for the corporate neighbors, but the kind of art that says people live, and play here. Denny Park can be the place that reminds us that we are better people on-foot than when we’re in our cars, and affirm that a big, tall tree in a fast-moving city can feel like an old friend. Thank you for reading, from Margaret at Best Guide Seattle