Cascade Playground Improvements – Seattle WA

Project type: Parks and Recreation
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The push for construction of a playground in Seattle’s Cascade neighborhood began during the 1920s. In 1926, using funds from a 1924 bond issue, the Seattle Park Department acquired the proposed Cascade Playground site, which covered nearly the entire block between Harrison and Thomas Streets, and Minor and Pontius Avenues. The property remained largely unimproved for the next nine years. Beginning in 1935, however, a series of Works Progress Administration projects upgraded the site into a fully developed urban playground.

As part of the first project, begun in 1935, WPA workers built concrete retaining walls around the perimeter of the site, regraded the site to create a level play surface, and added several hundred square yards of sand to the existing clay and dirt field to improve drainage and prevent the playground from becoming, as the Parks Department put it, “a mud hole when it rained.” Workers also installed a ten-foot-high chain link fence atop the retaining walls. The entire project was completed in 1936. A small imprint in the southeast corner of the retaining wall reads: “Built by WPA 1936.”

A second project, started in 1937, involved the construction of a small brick comfort station at the corner of Harrison Street and Pontius Avenue. That same year, WPA workers installed a concrete wading pool in the southwest corner of the playground, as well as new playground equipment and an improved drainage system. The wading pool is marked with a plaque that reads: “Built by Works Progress Administration 1938-1939.” A final WPA project in 1939 resulted in the installation of a lighting system that allowed for nighttime playground use.

Some of the playground’s WPA-built structures were altered as part of an extensive renovation project that was completed in 2005. Seattle Parks and Recreation filled in the concrete wading pool to create a new play area, although a small bridge that once crossed the pool is still present. It also removed large sections of the retaining walls that previously lined Harrison Street and Minor Avenue, restoring part of the natural slope that existed prior to the WPA regrading project. Other sections of the retaining wall, however, were left in place, as were the two comfort station structures.

Source notes

"Cascade Playground." Seattle Parks and Recreation.  Accessed February 26, 2017.

Seattle Board of Park Commissioners. Annual Reports. Seattle, WA: Seattle Board of Park Commissioners, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939.

"Summary for 333 Pontius AVE / Parcel ID 2467400335 / Inv # DPR014." Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.  Accessed February 26, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Scott Newman on March 6, 2017.

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Location Info

333 Pontius Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109

Coordinates: 47.621709, -122.331987

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