Title: Park or Playground?
Photo: Isabelle Gray
This past summer, my husband, daughter, and I decided to get take-out food for dinner from a restaurant in the neighborhood. It was still light out with nice weather and my daughter said she wanted to go to a park. So we left my husband to wait for the food and we walked to Julia Lee's Park.
Upon entering, she looked around and said, "This isn't a park". It took me a few seconds to figure out that she was looking for a playground. I explained that we were indeed in a park, but this park didn't have a playground with swings or slides. She replied with a simple "Oh" and proceeded to run around the paths. A few minutes later, she asked me to lift her up onto the raised wall circling the tree in the center, then counted the tiles as she skipped around the tree.
After a few more minutes of play time, we left to find her father and return home to eat. While she initially claimed that Julia Lee’s wasn’t a park, now sometimes when we pass by she says “There’s the park!”
Title: William Grose
Photo: Isabelle Gray
Sometimes, my family and I will go on walks in the neighborhood. We usually don’t have a specific destination and will roam the streets aimlessly, wherever our whims take us. The first time we passed the mini-park on 30th Ave between East Denny Way and East Howell Street, I almost dismissed it as someone’s neglected yard. The grass was long and riddled with weeds, and an old, dirty mattress had been discarded where the grass meets the sidewalk. The City park sign was the only thing to alert me that this was City property. It was anything but inviting.
During another neighborhood exploration, the grass has been cut and the mattress was gone. We decided to follow the park’s paved walkway, which stretches between 30th and 31st Aves the length of the small park in between private residences. Towards the middle of the park, set in the ground, is a plaque with some information about William Grose, the park’s namesake. I didn’t remember having heard anything about him previously, so I made a mental note to try to find out more about him.
I did some research and discovered that this petite greenspace was named for a man who was large, both in stature and impact. His home on 24th Avenue became a gathering place for African-Americans in the city. By selling off parcels of his land to other African-Americans, Grose held a vital role in making Madison Valley and the larger Central District the nucleus of Seattle’s African-American community.