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Parks & Open Space Advocacy

The U District is home to some of Seattle’s most spectacular natural beauty. From the historic cherry blossoms on the UW’s 350 acre campus, to the Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, open spaces in the neighborhood are an important part of public life and the health of the community. Today they are growing, improving, and changing. Below is information on the different open spaces visitors can access in the U District.

43rd Street Plaza

With its bright blue picnic tables, red umbrellas, and overhead cafe lights, the U District’s newest plaza at NE 43rd Street provides a convenient and welcoming place for people to sit, eat, and enjoy the heart of the neighborhood. The 43rd St Plaza is a UDP-operated public outdoor seating area along NE 43rd St’s sidewalks, next to the U District Light Rail Station. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and indoor dining restrictions, UDP worked with surrounding businesses and the University of Washington to purchase picnic tables and umbrellas. In 2021, UDP added overhead cafe lights to bring light and ambience to the street. Today, UDP maintains the popular space daily.

Fritz Hedges Waterway Park & Sakuma Viewpoint

Located on the shores of Portage Bay, this new U District Park opened in 2020 and provides incredible shoreline/water-related experiences for all ages and abilities. The park has three piers, with one serving as a kayak launch point. The park also has a small beach, active recreation opportunities in restored meadows, and passive recreation sites in the lawn terraces, main pier, and picnic area. Directly adjacent to the park, is the Sakuma Viewpoint, which is managed by the University of Washington and abuts Aqua Verde Cafe. In 2022, the U District Partnership partnered with Scarecrow Video, Agua Verde Cafe, and BECU to hold the Summer Movies by the Bay series, welcoming over 1,000 attendees to three water-themed, family friendly movies in August.

Learn more about Fritz Hedges Waterway Park

Christie Park

Christie Park is located at the southeast corner of NE 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue NE. In 2020, Christie Park got an upgrade. The Christie Park “Addition” brought more open space for the University District by doubling the size of the existing park. The new park features an open lawn, trees, a multi-use plaza with donated art, a loop trail, and fitness area. The “Explorer Voyage” art piece by Paul Sorey donated by Friends of Christie Park, celebrates the community’s connection to the Taiwanese Community, James Christie, and University of Washington.The U District Partnership also acted as a fiscal sponsor for Friends of Christie Park, which stewarded the process of upgrading the park with the City of Seattle.

Learn more about Christie Park

University Playground

Located in the northwest part of the U District, the University Playground is a City of Seattle Park that features two tennis courts, one baseball diamond and backstop, playground with slide, baby swings, a Rich Beyer sculpture of a sasquatch, adult exercise equipment and bathroom facilities. The UDP hosts cleanups and has worked to provide temporary or permanent housing for over 35 people who were sleeping outside in the park during the pandemic.

The Burke Gilman Trail 

The Burke Gilman Trail is a popular and heavily-used paved trail for people of all ages and abilities that runs along the southern part of the U District. It is used both recreationally and by commuters, and is popular for walking, running, cycling, boarding, and more. The Burke Gilman trail spans 19 miles between Seattle and Bothell, and connects to additional paved trails in King County. It is maintained by the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Parks and Recreation. The UDP is working to ensure that this community resource is well connected to our network of bike and pedestrian pathways in the district.

University of Washington Campus

Originally established in 1861 on a 10-acre tract of land in downtown Seattle, the University of Washington Campus moved to its current location in the U District in 1895. The 700-acre park-like campus adjacent to Lake Washington and Portage Bay is not only a forested oasis for students, but is also a destination for visitors and Seattleites alike. Many of the open spaces on the campus are local attractions, including The Quad (home of the world-famous UW Cherry Blossoms), Parrington Lawn, Red Square, Rainier Vista, Denny Yard, and the UW Wetlands and Botanic Gardens. Explore the UW Campus Map to plan a walk through the celebrated landscape and historic architecture of this renowned institution.