Seattle is getting closer to realizing a long-sought goal, completing construction of Jimi Hendrix Park. On March 19th, the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation announced that construction of Phase One will begin in April.
There has been a long ongoing battle in Seattle to remember and preserve Jimi Hendrix’s legacy. In 2005, this effort saw another blow when the city failed to keep his boyhood home. After being moved from its original location in the Central District, it was moved again to Renton, near his gravesite and memorial.
While this struggle was ongoing, many fans, family, and supporters began an effort to create Jimi Hendrix Park. Between 2003 and 2006, these efforts resulted in a Seattle Parks Department project. The department worked to reclaim a WSDOT parking lot and convert it into a green space, named after Jimi Hendrix.
The landscaping was funded with about $300,000 through the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and completed in 2006. Not much changed since 2006. The park is remarkably plain; advertised by the city as “a large open lawn area, not too many trees (good for flying a kite) and a parking lot.”
In 2011, The Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park began a public design process, gathering feedback on designs for a public space that better reflected Jimi Hendrix’s legacy. In the same year, the organization began raising funds for the redesign under the name “Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation”. And, after four years, the organization has raised over $1.4 million–enough to complete Phase One of the project.
Vision For A New Park
The proposed design would radically transform the park. The goal is to create much more than a memorial. Instead, the park will be an electrifying public space, enabling activities that reflect Jimi Hendrix’s life. Maisha Barnett, the foundation’s project manager, described the future park as:
A beacon for neighborhood families, a space for local artists and musicians to perform, and a place for tourists to connect with the very neighborhood that spawned one of the greatest musicians of his generation.
It is very likely that tourists will have excellent opportunities to understand the neighborhood because the location is great. The park is easily accessible, very close to the future East Link light rail station at 23rd Avenue S. Additionally, it is adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum, providing educational opportunities that compliment the mission of the park.
Most of the work besides fundraising has been focused on the design. Phase One will include a few critical changes that will greatly improve the park. Perhaps the most important change will be connecting the park to S 25th Street and Massachusetts Avenue S. Currently, the park is inaccessible from these streets:
The redesign will open up the concrete retaining wall and create a winding path from the corner of 25th and Massachusetts to a central plaza. The path will have a timeline of Hendrix’s life and, for the first time, explicitly connect the park to its namesake. This plaza will initially provide a public space for gatherings, but will be enhanced in Phase Two with electrical connections and shelter. The ultimate goal is to provide a space for events, educational activities and maybe even concerts.
Phase One will implement many other enhancements, including: a butterfly garden, native plants, walkways, benches, and more. All these improvements are important, but the work won’t end there. Fundraising for Phase Two is still ongoing. You can learn more about the park and help with the fundraising by visiting the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation website.