Washington Street Landing
& Boat Harbor Initiative Proposal
- A Potential Future Location for the
FarmBoat Waterfront Floating Market
The Washington Street Landing on the Seattle waterfront is an historic site with an iconic landmark from Seattle's vibrant past. The last remaining remnant from the days of steam and sail is an iron pergola structure built over the Alaskan Way Seawall around 1920. Located just south of Colman Dock (Seattle Ferry Terminal), the site is currently the only public waterfront access point for the historic Pioneer Square district which once relied entirely upon its connection with the sea.
The site at the foot of Washington Street was used for many purposes over the years from boarding Alaska Gold Rush passengers to loading timber for rebuilding San Francisco after the great earthquake. Early in Seattle history, the site hosted native canoe traders from around Puget Sound and was where the city's recreational boating culture began. In recent decades, the landing was last used as a public wharf with a floating dock that extended out into the waterway.
Upon completion of the Alaska Way Viaduct Replacement Project, a large area adjoining the Washington Street Landing may become available as public space for which city planners are currently drafting ideas (as of April, 2011). The City of Seattle and the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood have a wonderful opportunity to reconnect people with the waters of Puget Sound in a meaningful and enlightening way. This location on Elliot Bay is ideal for small craft due to the proximity to downtown and relative protection from heavy weather.
Small craft access to downtown would provide a means of recreation and enjoyment for visitors and residents alike. This could be a place for kayakers to put in for trips around the bay, Native American canoe visits, charter boats, private boats carrying ball game fans, historic tall ships, and weekly FarmBoat floating markets.
Public Boat Harbor and Floating Breakwater Promenade
While the location is fairly well protected from heavy weather, it still receives considerable wave action. To reduce the damaging effect of waves on docks and boats, and to improve public safety, a floating breakwater secured to the sea floor with cables, could provide adequate protection of the enclosed harbor and shoreline while adding a significant public space buffered from the noise of the city. Since the entire facility would be floating with the tides, it would have the feel and attraction of an intimate Mediterranean port (where tidal range is less of a factor).
Proposed Washington Street Landing & Boat Harbor:
1.) The existing Washington Street Landing historic structure could be used as the main entrance to the boat harbor docks with a pedestrian tidal ramp in the same location as previously installed prior to the removal of the old floating docks.
2.) Upon removal of the aging Pier 48 structure after the SR 99 tunnel project is complete, a potential boat basin would remain--providing an area for water-centric activities that can include paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, sailing craft and row boats.
3.) The basin could be protected with a floating breakwater constructed from two "recycled" sections of the old SR 520 floating bridge. The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge is constructed of 33 prestressed concrete pontoons. Each typical pontoon reportedly measures 360 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 14 feet, 9 inches deep. The pontoons are multi chambered and can be ballasted down to a few feet above the water for an ideal dock height. With traffic lane barriers removed, the structure could make a perfect platform for a public promenade with breath-taking views of both the bay and of the city.
Currently, there appears to be no plans for the pontoon sections of the old Evergreen Point Floating Bridge after the new bridge is installed. Likely, they will be disposed of at considerable cost just as the pontoons of the old Hood Canal Floating Bridge. Use of these pontoons as floating breakwaters may actually save tax payers money while providing a high value asset to the city.
4.) A long concrete floating dock can connect the breakwater to land. This can be constructed in the same manor as other marinas in the area. The floating docks will move up and down with the tide to provide easy access to small boats any time of day. in this rendition, the north side of the dock may be used for mooring large visiting vessels such as tall ships, charter vessels, and FarmBoat Floating Market vessels.
5.) Boat harbor finger piers can be installed to provide short stay moorage for private visiting vessels as well as moorage for small charter boats and rentals. The location of the Washington Street Landing is ideal for game visitors who wish to travel by boat to stadium events.
6.) The Center For Wooden Boats at South Lake Union is currently managing the moorage for Lake Union Park while providing an invaluable experiential attraction for Seattle residents and visitors alike. With the historic nature of the Pioneer Square district, it would be a natural fit to allow the Center for Wooden Boats to operate a small vessel livery on the Seattle waterfront similar to their popular Lake Union attraction. The Center for Wooden Boats has expressed interest in considering the development of a waterfront program provided there is an mooring area that is protected from the waves on the bay.
7.) A small boat dock can allow easy boarding of small watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and day sailers. This dock may also accommodate commuters traveling to town by kayak from West Seattle.
8.) There may be an opportunity to construct a small natural sand or gravel beach in the protected boat harbor that would be reminiscent of early Seattle. The beach would provide a means for visitors to directly touch and experience the sea. Along with supporting a wide range of water sports, the beach could also provide a place to land traditional dugout canoes to help bring an authentic native American cultural element back to the Seattle waterfront. Dragon boat paddling has become a popular activity around the world. Native American canoe paddling could be a next generation advancement in team paddling activities. This could be an opportunity for Seattle to cost-effectively embrace local native American cultural activities.
9.) The existing floating dock at the Colman Ferry Terminal that hosts the walk-on passenger ferries could be re-located to provide more room in the harbor. The dock currently extends out into the waterway at an angle from Colman Pier.
Pier 48 Today:
Seattle Waterfront History Photos:
Budlong's Boat House on the waterfront (just north of Washington Street) was the center for Seattle recreational boating activities in 1887.
A view of what the Washington Street Landing Location looked like in 1887--Yesler Mill, Colman Dock and Budlong's Boat House.
Seattle waterfront in the late 1800's. Local natives traded clams, fish, crafts and other goods. In the early years, the waterfront was very accessible by small vessels.
Native American canoes were a typical sight at Seattle waterfront beaches in the early years of the city's development--most belonged to the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. The cities namesake, Chief Seattle, frequented these shores.