Though algae growth has been a persistent problem for this urban waterhole, don’t read too much into the name. Green Lake, a freshwater pond surrounded by grassy knolls and cherry trees, remains one of the most visited parks in the city.
Located in the heart of north-central Seattle and surrounded on all sides by dense metropolitan neighborhoods, Green Lake Park is frequented by joggers and cyclists, families and friends, as well as those seeking solace with a book and a blanket under a tree. For Green Lake’s diverse range of users, the park offers a variety of facilities. A 2.8-mile path, featuring both pavement for those on wheels and a dirt trail for joggers, winds its way around the lake. The path, often crowded on sunny days, is easily the park’s most valuable asset. Tennis courts and a swimming pool are located near the Green Lake Community Center. A wading pool for toddlers located in the park’s northwest side is a mother’s afternoon haven. And a bathhouse, built in 1927, now hosts the productions of the Seattle Public Theater.
Green Lake is also a sanctuary for its animal residents. An artificial island in the middle of the lake, commonly referred to as Duck Island, houses a variety of quacking birds, including mallards, herons and geese. The island is closed off to human access, allowing wildlife to flourish.
It’s hard to picture today, but glaciers carved Green Lake tens of thousands of years ago – the same glaciers that formed Lake Washington and Lake Union. It wasn’t until the turn of the century, when renowned landscape architect John Olmsted laid out his grand plan to built Seattle’s parks, that Green Lake Park was born. During the park’s excavation, the square-kilometer lake was dredged and its inflow and outflow sources were cut off. Today, the lake’s water is maintained by rainflow, run off, and the city’s water supply. Swimmers beware, Green Lake sees its share of pollution and water stagnation today, as well as its namesake issue – algae. But despite the typical urban water issues that plague the park, Green Lake still manages to retain an aesthetic charm and to offer its countless visitors an escape from the urban world of asphalt.
- Community Center Hours:
- Monday through Friday, 10am to 9pm
- Saturday, 10am to 5pm
- Location: 7201 E Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA
- Green Lake Community Center: 206-684-0780
- Seattle Parks and Recreation: www.seattle.gov/parks