Leschi is a neighborhood located within the city of Seattle, Washington, USA. The neighborhood is named after Chief Leschi of the Nisqually tribe.
Residences in Leschi include condominiums (especially along the lake), refurbished bungalows and craftsman, contemporary styles, bricks, Tudors and mid-century ramblers. Curvy streets wind away from the lakefront, which means many residences get at least a partial lake view. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer described Leschi as "not an exclusive enclave for the rich, despite its million-dollar lakefront homes" and a "home to a racially and economically diverse group of people." The area "mix[es] stately turn-of-the century houses with far more modest homes". There are many parks, from the popular Leschi lakeside park to pocket parks spread throughout the neighborhood.
Notable neighborhood parks include Leschi Park, Frink Park, Flo Ware, Powell Barnett, and the "String of Pearls".
Legend has it that Leschi Park was a campsite of Chief Leschi, of the Nisqually tribe. Chief Leschi was executed by territorial Governor Isaac Stevens for his participation in the Battle of Seattle. The 1854 treaty which took away native lands led to an attack on the settlement in 1856. Many tribe members and two settlers were killed, and Leschi was subsequently hanged. In 1889, the site became an amusement park at the end of Lake Washington Cable Railway's trolley line. The attractions included a casino, gardens, boat rentals and a zoo. The zoo animals were donated to the City in 1903 and the site itself was sold to the City in 1909 and became one of Seattle's earliest parks. Today, Leschi Park is a well-manicured, rolling hillside of grass planted with exotic trees and gardens of roses. Pathways follow an undulating terrain to restrooms above. A path to the right leads to a tennis court, and one to the left goes on up to a playground with slides and a sand box. A grassy spot under willows on the east side of Lakeside S. looks out on acres of sailboats and old-time ferry.
Since the earliest days of Seattle history, Frink Park served as a natural woodland park where city residents could enjoy mountain and sound views. Set aside as a "private" park in 1883, the main portion of the park was later purchased by Seattle parks commissioner John M. Frink and his wife Abbie H. Frink and gifted to the City on October 25, 1906. In 1908 the City authorized the Board of Park Commissioners to acquire additional land adjacent southeast to the park property. Other lands were given as gifts, however, the City condemned several lots just south of today’s Frink Boulevard to make room for the parkway connecting Leschi and Frink Parks. Today, Friends of Frink Park work to preserve the natural urban forest unique to the Park. These local stewards are united in ensuring the Park’s continued importance to the local residents and the city that visionaries John Frink and the Olmsted Brothers foresaw.
Flo (Florasina) Ware (1912-1981) was the quintessential activist, known in Seattle for raising a strong and logical voice on behalf of children, the elderly, and the poor. In 1982, a Seattle Parks playfield at 28th & Jackson was named in her honor. The park received a $540,000 renovation in 2002 which included art installations commemorating her life work. In recent years, it has been the site of free music events sponsored by the Leschi Community Council.
Powell Barnett Park was originally selected by the City Planning Commission as the "east Junior High School Site" and was developed as a running track and athletic field by nearby Garfield High School. Upon the acquisition and development of a playfield at the school, the "Garfield Track" was abandoned in 1962 and then sold to the Department of Parks in 1966. Playground improvements were accomplished by the community through the Central Area Motivation Program in 1967. Upon suggestion of the Leschi Improvement Council (renamed the Leschi Community Council,) in 1969, the playground was named in honor of Powell Barnett. A man of many interests and great energy, much of which was directed toward improving race relations and civic unity, Powell Barnett organized the Leschi Improvement Council and became its first president in 1967, led in organizing the East Madison YMCA, served as chairman of its board, and chaired a committee that revised the Seattle Urban League, thus saving its membership in the Community Chest. On May 19, 2006, the community, Starbucks and the City of Seattle celebrated the completion of an Ultimate Parks Makeover of Powell Barnett Park.
In the 1980s the Leschi Improvement Council named Leschi as a "nuclear-free neighborhood", making it the only neighborhood in Seattle to ban nuclear reactors, submarines, or missiles. It remains nuclear free to this day.
Seattle Municipal Street Railway cable car
Between September 27, 1888, and August 10, 1940, a cable car ran along Yesler Way from Pioneer Square to Lake Washington. Some of the cable car tracks are still visible in certain parts of the neighborhood.
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