This part of Seattle has been transformed over the last several years and this nice long walk takes you on a tour to see the history, the public spaces, and the recent development that this area has to offer.
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Start at Westlake Ave & Denny Way near Whole Foods. You can get here easily by taking the 8 or 17 bus, or Seattle Streetcar. If you’re driving, there is a parking garage off of 9th Ave and there is some street parking in the area.
This development opened in late 2006 and includes the Pan Pacific Hotel, condos, and retail. Originally QFC had signed on to be the grocery tenant, but had to back out because construction did not start soon enough.
The space in front of the store includes the sculpture by UW professor Akio Takamori entitled Three Women.
Take the escalator up. On your left are a couple restaurants and the Pan Pacific Hotel. Continue forward, walking by the storefronts to the right, which include several upscale shops. Turn left at the end of the row of shops to continue.
When you reach the sidewalk along Terry Ave, turn right. On your left is the Main Campus Center of the Cornish College of the Arts, established in 1914 and the oldest music conservatory on the West Coast, and considered one of the top art schools in the country.
Ahead is the Terry Avenue green street, with a single lane for vehicle traffic. Cross Lenora St and then turn left to head uphill. Watch for traffic coming from Denny Way as you cross Boren Ave.
Cross both Fairview Ave and Denny Way to end up in front of Mirabella, a large retirement community. There is some art at the corner and near the courtyard you’ll pass. Walk north on Fairview, past the driveway and courtyard of Mirabella.
Continue across John St and turn right on Thomas St. Note the large musically-themed mural on your left, painted for The WoodShed Studios, home to Noc on Wood Records.
Continue to Pontius St where you’ll turn right by the Southlake Grill. As you walk down the street, notice the building on your left, which was once a laundry building and is now an apartment building. Turn left mid-block to pass through the green alley. When you first turn left, there is an old photo and some information on the history of this building. Pass by the waterfall and meet up with Yale Ave. There are a few shops to your right and immediately across the street is REI’s flagship store.
Turn left to walk north along Yale Ave – be sure to watch for cross traffic at intersections. The Cascade neighborhood used to be home to many immigrants from Eastern Europe, and at Harrison Street, you will see Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral, constructed in the late 1930s in traditional Russian church style.
The old red brick buildings along Yale Avenue give a good feel for the area’s history of industry. A large office development, called Yale Campus, has been planned for the area a couple blocks ahead near Mercer, however that development is on hold.
Turn right on Mercer St and then turn right on Eastlake Ave. Before the construction of I-5, there would have been buildings to your left, and at Republican Street was the Republican Hill Climb, built in 1910 to connect Cascade with Capitol Hill.
At Thomas Street, turn right and head downhill. Soon you’ll pass by the Cascade People’s Center and the Cascade P-Patch. At the corner of Thomas and Minor, turn into the garden and wander through the paths before heading back to Minor Ave. Walk north on Minor Ave. There are a couple benches along a gravel path to your right and picnic tables – behind that is the Cascade Playground.
Turn left on Harrison St, passing the Seattle Streetcar garage on your left and cross Fairview Ave. There are a couple cafes you’ll pass by as well. You’ll need to walk along the north side of Harrison St due to construction of Amazon.com’s buildings on the other side of the street that is blocking the sidewalk.
Turn right on Terry Ave, you’ll pass by a courtyard for Amazon.com’s new headquarters in the area. You may have to cross to the left side of the street to continue north past Republican Street. After crossing Mercer, the sidewalk disappears, but there is still room to walk. This area will be under construction for the next couple years as part of the Mercer Corridor Project, which will make the whole area more pedestrian friendly.
Continue past Valley St and into newly-opened Lake Union Park. As you walk into the park, you’ll pass by the interactive fountains (which you may not notice if they’re not running). On your right is the Naval Reserve building, commonly known as the Armory, which will soon be the home to the Museum of History and Industry. On your left is a model boat pond. Continue forward to the water and step out onto Blanche – you’ll recognize it by what looks like a chrome upside-down boat in the air – the sculpture evokes the feeling of being out on the lake in a small boat. There are boats stationed nearby, many of which are part of the Center for Wooden Boats, which offers various programs and whose collection of over 100 boats is open to the public.
Head toward the bridge over the water and cross it. The bridge has some signs posted on it with highlights from the area’s history. On your left is a cove, which includes a restored salmon habitat. Once you’re done at the park, go back towards Valley St and cross south along Westlake Ave (you could also take the Streetcar back downtown if you’re done walking). Continue south for a few blocks, passing a few retail establishments and a couple new eateries.
You may wish to cross the street at the light at Harrison or Republican to be on the west (right) side of Fairview. Turn right at John St and walk across 9th Ave to find yourself at Denny Park. The oldest park in the city seems to be home to some people who don’t have another one, but it also has a new play area with a zip-line and good shade for a picnic. Walk along the perimeter of the park on John St and turn left into the park where 8th Ave ends. There are a couple benches around here, but you can keep walking to the center of the park, and then Take the diagonal path SE toward Denny Way & 9th Ave.
At Denny Way, continue back toward Westlake. There is a small triangle of open space on the SW corner of Westlake and Denny, but it seems too exposed and irrelevant to be very popular, at least compared to the area in front of Whole Foods where our walking trip ends.
highlights: Lake Union, Cascade P-Patch, some areas with retail, history, active public space at Fairview and Denny
lowlights: some parts of the neighborhood are not very active, no sidewalks along Terry when crossing Mercer, heavy motor vehicle traffic along Mercer and Valley