Wednesday, March 9 • 8:30am - 12:30pm
Retreating Glaciers and The Olmsteds: A Topographical Tour of Seattle's Parks and Boulevards

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Seattle is shaped like an hourglass, with its business district at the narrowest, central part. Visitors notice two things immediately about the city: it is flanked on both sides by water (salty Puget Sound on the west; fresh Lake Washington on the east) and studded with hills yielding a variety of views. A glacial retreat 10-15,000 years ago blessed the region with numerous mountains, lakes, estuaries and basins. Moistened by ample rain, this landscape grew lush and sprouted the forests that attracted 19th-century settlers seeking to capitalize on nature's bounty. This tour will explore the hills, valleys, and shorelines of the city that sprang up around Henry Yesler's modest lumber export mill, and has experienced economic peaks and valleys since 1851.

By 1900, Seattle had big-city aspirations and, with an eye to Boston's Emerald Necklace, city leaders  engaged the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design a park system that took advantage of this majestic setting. Thirty-seven Olmsted designs were implemented; this excursion will visit four of them and travel along additional boulevards of their design. Parks and roads en route include the Puget Sound shoreline in West Seattle, old-growth forest of Schmitz Park, and verdant Seward Park with its spectacular views of Lake Washington. Turning north, the tour will explore Ravenna Park centered on a creek and conclude at  the urban oasis of Green Lake Park. Criss-crossing the city, tour attendees will see not only the steep hills shaped by nature but also the commercially advantageous shipping canals and channels dug by man. Several stops will enable all to leave the coach and immerse themselves in these parks, to smell the salt air, feel the ferns, and savor the views.

Maximum Participants: 26

Fee: $30

Accessibility: Walking, navigating unpaved areas of city parks

Transportation: Coach from the Westin to park destinations around Seattle; return to Westin by coach. Meet your tour wrangler around the North Tower escalators on the Westin's Lobby Level before the 8:30 AM departure. 

Attire: Wear comfortable walking shoes to enjoy the parks and beach. Bring a rain jacket.

Wednesday March 9, 2016 8:30am - 12:30pm

Attendees (14)