Carkeek Park is a public park in Seattle’s Broadview district. The park covers an area of 216 acres, and contains a number of hiking trails, as well as picnic and play facilities. Pipers Creek and two smaller creeks lie within the park’s boundaries, while a sandy beach at Puget Sound is nearby. This is reached by means of a foot bridge across the BNSF railroad. The park has an Environmental Learning Center with a busy list of activities.
Between 1918 and 1926, the name “Carkeek Park” was used for an area on Lake Washington’s Pontiac Bay which later became the present Magnuson Park. The earlier park was closed when the land was sold for use as a Naval Air Station. Morgan Carkeek, who had owned it, allowed the City of Seattle to use the money raised from the sale to create another park with the same name. At first, the city government was against the plan, but public opinion forced a change and the majority of today’s site had been purchased by the end of the 1920’s.
During the next few years, Carkeek Park was used in a number of different ways. It was a venue for outdoor performances, a farm for growing feed for zoo animals and at one time pasturage. In 1942, during World War Two, the site was used as a camp by the U.S. Army. Afterward, it was used as a sewage plant, but local opposition meant that this eventually ended and park facilities were being reconstructed by 1948. A short-lived archery field existed in the late 1950’s. The city was short of the required cash to incorporate donated property into the park until 1973.
At the time of the park’s founding, the area in which it stood was still quite rural. The old-growth woodlands in the area were mostly destroyed, and only in the late 20th century did their replacements – largely alder and maple trees – themselves become mature. A large variety of evergreen trees were introduced, with these becoming the park’s dominant species in the future. Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, and Douglas fir are typical examples.
Environmental Learning Center
The Environmental Learning Center is responsible for the environmental stewardship of Carkeek Park, as well as for the program of activities and events which the city supports each year. It aims to demonstrate best practice in the area of resource efficiency, while maintaining the local environment and improving the health and well-being of visitors and local residents. The Center was built to the highest quality level set by the Green Building Council of the United States. It incorporates a number of innovative and sustainable features.
The Center harvests rainwater from rooftops, and these are used for flushing the park’s toilets. It also makes use of lighting that activates only when required, and is energy-efficient. Natural ventilation is used wherever practical, while the installation of solar panels was supported by the Seattle government. Recycling is used on a large scale, with around four-fifths of construction waste being either recycled or salvaged for reuse. The Environmental Learning Center is no longer open for general visitors due to budget cuts, but may still be rented by groups.