Entertainment / Parks

Why Volunteer Park Is Such a Special Part of Seattle

Why Volunteer Park Is Such a Special Part of Seattle

Volunteer Park

Photo Compliments of Curtis Cronn

Many of the iconic images of Seattle are of Volunteer Park. It was the first Seattle Park, it is the oldest: Designed by the Olmsted brothers who designed Central Park in New York City…The conservatory, the spectacular views from the water tower observation deck, the dramatic art deco building of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the sculpture, Black Sun, by Isamu Noguchi with its scenic view of the Seattle skyline that prominently includes the Space Needle, the wading pool and children’s play area, the dahlia garden, and amazing park grounds makes this such an amazing space in the center of Seattle.

General Park Information

Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill…Location

1247 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112 (Map & Directions)
The park is 2.5 miles from the Seattle downtown area so it is an easy walk or you can reach the park by bus (Metro Bus Schedules)


6 AM to 10 PM

Special Park Features

  • Volunteer Park Conservatory
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum
  • Sculpture, Black Sun, by Isamu Noguchi
  • Water Tower (located at south entrance)
  • Tennis Court (outdoor)
  • Basketball Backboard
  • Walking Paths (Wonderful)
  • Children’s Wading Pool (ADA Compliant)
  • Children’s Playground Area (ADA Compliant)
  • Park Restrooms (ADA Compliant)

Special Events

The 2014 Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival is July 12 and 13. This is an annual event and park tradition.  You can get more information at Outdoor Theater Festival.

Volunteer Park History

The park grounds (40 acres) were purchased in 1876 by the city of Seattle and named Lake View Park in 1893. By 1893, the Parks Department had cleared about six acres of timber and planted a nursery supplemented with a greenhouse and hotbed.

Between 1887 and 1904 the park was improved with paths, lawns, flower beds, picnic tables, and children’s swings. During the period of 1904-1909 the Olmsted Brothers prepared formal plans that were completed by 1912. The conservatory was built in 1912.

The water tower was built by the Water Department in 1906. There are 107 steps to the observation deck which is 75 ½ feet above the road. This is the highest point on Capitol Hill.

During 1901 Seattle changed the name from City Park to Volunteer Park to honor the volunteers of the Spanish-American War (1898-1902).

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  1. Olmstead got around! The beautiful part system in Buffalo, NY, is his design, too, with Calvert Vaux. I didn’t know he had made it so far west!

  2. Hey Charlie this is a great post… I just wonder why it’s the first one I got an email notice of…
    Love it…

  3. Beautiful. I’ve been to Seattle numerous times to visit family but have never visited the park. I need to put it on my next to-do-list. 🙂
    Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread recently posted..Almost Wordless Wednesday – ParisMy Profile

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