On July 23, 2011, I recited these design stories at the Boston Globe for my friends at Ink, stories inspired by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the impact his legacy has had on my life in particular, and three American cities – Seattle, DC, and Baltimore – in general. Each story takes place in a natural urban setting influenced or designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. This is the second essay in a collection of eight.
Okay. So yeah, yeah. You’re going to take Westlake Ave heading north along Lake Union, under the Highway 99 overpass until you get to the Fremont Bridge. You can’t miss it. You’ll see the bridge to your right. Go over the bridge, then veer right at the Torrefazione. Yes, yes. Another coffee shop.
That’ll put you onto North 34th Street. Okay, then you’re going to go a few blocks until you get to Stone Way. You’ll see a bike shop and moored sailboats to your right. Turn right right there. Okay, now go another block and take a left on Northlake Way. What? Yes, yes. Seattle does have a lot of lakes, I know.
Once you’re on Northlake, you’ll see the parking lot for Gasworks and the park to your right. Just pull in, parking is free.
We chose Gasworks Park for our rehearsal dinner because the views are spectacular. Hell, everywhere you go in Seattle there are spectacular views. When it’s not cloudy, of course. When you have more than 78 minutes of summer.
We wanted our guests to see the splendor of Seattle from as many different viewpoints as possible, as cheaply as possible. So we took advantage of the Emerald City’s abundant park system.
I sat next to Pat, my future mother-in-law, on one of the many grassy knolls. A cool, sunny late afternoon in September, she took a bite of her watermelon and I took a bite of mine. Will was somewhere around, talking to Charlie Damon Sally Natalie Scriba Tish Debbie James Glotz Lissa Gino Carrie Seth Michaela, stopping long enough to whisk his 80-something mother from the knoll, just as the sprinklers came on and we all ran screaming, laughing, spilling our champagne.
Meanwhile, kayakers traversed, I-5 and 99 hummed, and twilight descended on the cityscape like a velvet curtain closing a Broadway show. Among the spattering of city lights on the hills all around us, we celebrated. I could’ve sworn the Space Needle laughed, too, as the sailboats brushed the bright waves of Lake Union.