One thing I found about the history of North Beach Park is that it has always attracted a lot of interest from its neighbors — sometimes good, sometimes bad.
King County regraded and paved 24th Ave. NW from 85th to 105th in 1931. The figure below shows a section of the plan for this regrade. The top half is a plan view, showing the street and parcels on both sides. The bottom half is a cross section, showing the altitude changes. The thicker line shows the planned regrade and the thinner line shows the pre-paving contours. Note the sharp dip where the lines cross at 260 feet, and the sharp rise where they cross again at 230 feet. The vertical written notes contain directions for installing pipes across the roadway, and guard rails on the right and left sides (King County Resolution No. 3924, 1930).
King County Regrade Map for 24th Ave. NW.
At that time, the ravine provided drainage for Olympic Golf Course and Country Club, which was open from 1924 until 1953, when it became Olympic Manor.
North Beach ravine in 1936.
The aerial photo from 1937, above, shows the area that will become North Beach Park. North Beach Ravine is in the center of this picture. Fletcher’s Orchard, now Fletcher’s Village, is at the top left of the picture. Note gap, center of picture, in what is now the Central Valley, and gappiness in what is now the Headwaters Bowl. The gap in the center today has large, old Alnus Rubra (Red alder) and a dense Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) cover. This is an indication of logging or other disturbance (Apostol, 2006). Evidence of disturbance also exists in the number of large cedar stumps that are now nurse logs in the stream.
Up until 1954, this area was unincorporated King County. In 1954, Seattle annexed all the areas between 85th St. and 145th St.
In 1968, King County voters approved a number of bond issues that included $118 million for new parks in Seattle. The Planning Division undertook a survey of ravines in the city, and in the “Summary and Recommendations from the Survey of Vacant and Undeveloped Natural Ravine and Creek Sites within the City of Seattle” (Planning Division 1969), North Beach Park is ranked second of the 23 properties surveyed. The property is described as:
This ravine having a small creek fed by several springs has a wide variation of foliage and hence offers one of the best internal environments of all the ravines studied. This site also indicates a high potential for a pathway and local park of 12 acres adjacent to the North Beach Elementary school.
A sketch of the original project dimensions.
At a public meeting in February, 1970, neighbors expressed concerns about “hippies and undesirable type people” and the possibility of a “road into the park” (Alley 1970). However, the neighborhood was so in support of the project that someone unable to attend circulated a petition that eventually garnered nearly 500 signatures and “created a great deal of community interest” (Whitman 1970).
Purchase of the park property stopped in the 1970s. A 1980 letter from the then-presidents of the Olympic Manor Community Club and the North Beach Club expressed concern that the “five acre park” was receiving no attention from the city, and requested a meeting with a representative of the Parks Department to discuss the park (Malone 1988). Purchase of the property was completed with Green Space Levies in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2003, North Beach Park and North Beach Ravines (between 28th and 30th Avenues) was a heron rookery.
North Beach Ravine today.
In 2008, serious neighbor problems lead to a contentious neighborhood meeting. There were accusations of illegal trail building, dumping, tree-topping and cutting, and worries about homeless encampments (Wong 2008). There was brief interest in a “Friends of…” group but nothing came of it (Wong 2008a).
Restoration began in 2011 and continues to this day. Restoration history will be posted next Monday.
NOTE: References for graphics will be in the caption of the graphic. Online references will be in the text as links. The references below are to printed materials.
Alley, J. 1970. “North Beach Community Meeting.” (Internal memo to Hans A. Thompson). February, 1970, Box 40, Folder 27, Record Series 5804-05, Seattle Municipal Archives
Apostol, D. and D.R. Berg. 2006. “Riparian Woodlands.” In Restoring the Pacific Northwest: The Art and Science of Ecological Restoration in Cascadia. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
Malone, T. 1988. “Letter to Ms. H. Miller.” Active files of the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Property and Acquisitions Services.
Planning Division, Department of Community Development. 1969. “Summary and Recommendations from the Survey of Vacant and Undeveloped Natural Ravine and Creek Sites within the City of Seattle.” September, 1969. Box 40, Folder 27, Record Series 5804-05, Seattle Municipal Archives
Whitman, J. E. 1970. Letter to Hans A. Thomspon. February, 1970, Box 40, Folder 27, Record Series 5804-05, Seattle Municipal Archives.
Wong, D. 2008. “Neighbors upset over illegal trails.” Ballard News-Tribune, Vol. 116 No. 21.
— 2008a. “North Beach gets help to stay green.” Ballard News-Tribune, Vol. 116 No. 27.