Tag Archive for 'stairway'

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SDOT closes stairway due to erosion

The public stairway at 20th Ave NE between 98th and 100th Sts, near Sacajawea Elementary School, has been closed. Erosion made the closure necessary and SDOT engineers are investigating how to stabilize and restore the slope and repair the stairway.

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Golden Gardens stairway walk

Seattle Stairway Walks has posted another stairway walking route, this time at Golden Gardens:

If you’re looking for a short stairway walk, Golden Gardens is a great choice. Like the shorter version of the Solstice Park walk in West Seattle (Stairway Walk #1), this route is scenic and full of interest, yet it can be covered in less than an hour. From the edge of the Loyal Heights neighborhood, it descends 258 steps to Puget Sound and Golden Gardens beach, with glorious views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

As always, the walking route that Jake and Cathy have shared is full of vivid details, beautiful photos, and careful directions.  Have you used this staircase?


Seattle stairs slideshow

Susan Ott Ralph, who has walked 650 stairways in the city and mapped them online at Seattle All Stairs, hosts a slideshow this Friday at the Montlake Community Center from 7 – 8:30 PM.


Over $1 million budgeted for Seattle’s stairways

This year’s SDOT budget includes funding from three separate programs for maintaining and rehabilitating city-owned stairways.

According to John Buswell, Manager of Roadway Structures, over $200,000 is budgeted for stairway maintenance. This includes routine repairs and approximately 70 stairway inspections. “Typical repairs may be the replacement of a damaged rail section, repair of a broken stairway tread, or damage following a winter storm.”

The remainder of the funding is for rehabilitating stairways that are beyond simple repairs. More than half of the remaining $900k comes from the voter-approved transportation levy Bridging the Gap, which is funded through 2016. According to Buswell:

Often we are able to completely replace a stairway, adding new features that meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for stairways. This work will usually add up to 75 years of additional useful life to the stairway.

Seattle has over 480 public stairways. Keeping them in good condition is a challenge, but they are an important and unique component of the city’s transportation infrastructure.


Map of all Seattle Stairways

There is a map that shows all stairways in the city of Seattle, at around 650, including suggested walking routes and more information.

This was part of a blogger’s New Year’s resolution to map, climb, and photograph all stairways in the city in 2010. Seattle All Stairs has a map of all the stairways in the city as well as 29 different walks to take.


Seattle Stairway Walks Blog

Laurelcrest StairsFor those of you who love to get out and participate in urban hiking, Jake and Cathy Jaramillo’s Seattle Stairway Walks blog shares some great routes for exploring Seattle’s pedestrian stairways. The blog shares walking routes on stairways in various parts of the city and includes history, photos, and more. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post about a walk through Laurelhurst:

On this stairway walk you might try to imagine the childish voices of the Duwamish kids who played here 150 years ago, when this little peninsula jutting into Union Bay was a seasonal Indian camp. You might think of the sound of heavy machinery gnawing on the last of the old growth forest, when Yesler Town with its gritty little mill stood here in the 1890s. Or you could consider the ‘thwack’ of a golf ball being struck on Seattle’s first course, laid out here around the same time as Yesler Town was built.

All of this is almost unimaginable nowadays. By 1910, when Seattle annexed “Laurelhurst,” it was a small community of less than 20 homes, isolated by water and rough terrain. Now it’s known as the neighborhood where Bill Gates Jr. grew up, and where Senators Magnuson and Evans retired. It’s very family-oriented, too: the percentage of households with kids is twice that of Seattle as a whole, and many residents who grew up here returned eventually to raise families of their own.

Laurelhurst is sited spectacularly on winding, hilly streets overlooking Union Bay and Lake Washington. You’ll explore a lengthy stairway ending at the Lake Washington shore, right next to the Laurelhurst Beach Club (you can join if you live south of NE 50th Street). You’ll discover a hidden stairway disappearing down a shadowy arbor just off someone’s driveway, and pay a visit to an unexpected pocket park tucked between shorefront homes. If you do a stairway walk here in April, you might be lucky enough to witness the carefully tended landscaping exploding into flower, saturating the neighborhood with sweet perfume.

The blog has appeared in Sunset magazine and the West Seattle Herald, and is a great part of Seattle’s growing walking movement.


Stairway lighting combined with other projects due to limited budget

With five stairway improvements underway by SDOT this year, a reader was wondering about SDOT’s policy about lighting these stairways.

Aside from the Wilcox Wall stairs (8th Avenue in Queen Anne) and maybe one or two stairways on Magnolia, most all the stairs that I recall walking in Seattle are unlighted. That’s usually not a problem in the summer, but once winter comes around the lack of lighting combines with overgrown vegetation and a lack of regular sweeping to make most of Seattle’s stairways a bit treacherous and downright creepy.

One of the stairways under construction this year will receive lighting – the stairway at Ferdinand Street that provides a connection to Martin Luther King, Jr Way. However, the city’s annual budget determines how much SDOT can spend on stairway lighting, and this amount is “very little,” according to SDOT.

When possible, SDOT tries to fund lighting along with other maintenance projects. “So often, these separate programs, Lighting, Stairways and Sidewalks are combined to save money in the long run.”

For example, SDOT says “It makes sense to excavate for installation of lighting conduits and pole foundation before constructing a new stair or sidewalk.”

It is not clear, however why the Ferdinand Street stairway improvement received lighting while the other projects did not. This decision may have been based on factors such as pedestrian traffic, length of stairway, vegetation in the area, crime statistics, and ability of neighborhood funding. Once lighting is constructed by SDOT, Seattle City Light performs maintenance.


Stairway improvements

SDOT maintains more than roads and sidewalks, but also the many public stairways in the city.

Most of Seattle’s stairways were built between 1920 and 1950, at the time the city’s street system was being completed. Where grades were too steep for a street, stairways were built. Now 70 to 80 years old, many need repairs and upgrades to meet today’s safety standards. Bridging the Gap funds enable safety improvements (such as proper step height, tread width, rail height, and distance between landings) in addition to repairs.

There are five stairways being rehabilitated this year by SDOT, as shown below:

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Map of stairways on Queen Anne Hill


Seattle has many urban stairways, with quite a few of them obscured and only known by the people who use them. Queen Anne Hill, which accounts for more than a hundred of the 550 stairways in Seattle, has its own map of the stairways.

To proud Queen Anne resident, architect and newly minted mapmaker Thomas Horton, there are some stairways in Venice that are “almost” as cool as Queen Anne’s steps.

“One of the jokes on my map is that the stairways are ‘oft’ pedestrian,” Horton says. “Obviously, they’re for feet, but the other meaning of pedestrian is mundane or everyday, and this is not always true with stairways … sometimes they’re really quite exciting.”

Horton likes the “hidden in plain sight” quality of Queen Anne stairways — how the delightful is revealed in one simple backward glance over the shoulder on a well-placed landing; yielding an unexpected view, or framing a historic detail hidden in stone.

You can buy the map for $5 from Queen Anne Books or buy a poster-sized version for $10.


New 97th St stairs open in Maple Leaf

Maple Leaf Life reports that pedestrians can continue along 97th Street between 19th and 20th Aves along a new stairway.

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