Even on a cold, windy Winter Wednesday, Warren G. Magnuson Park is still a beautiful and scenic place. Named after the former naval officer and Washington State Senator, Warren G. Magnuson. Nestled in the Northeast corner of the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle, Magnuson Park is 350 acres of beautiful federally protected marshland and forest, and it is the second-largest park in Seattle, after Discovery Park in the Magnolia District. If you happen to be picnicking on the eastern beach area of the park, you will also enjoy a great view of Mt. Ranier
The eastern edge of Magnuson Park sits directly adjacent to Lake Washington, which is just a boat ride across the lake from the residence of Bill Gates. When the weather is warm you will see windsurfers on their sailboards zig-zagging around the lake, fishers in their small aluminum boats, kayakers, and speedboats cruizing by at various speeds.
The first park at Sand Point was established in 1900 as Carkeek Park, a gift from developers Mr. and Mrs. Morgan J. Carkeek. After World War I, a movement was started to build Naval Air Station (NAS) Seattle at Sand Point, and King County began acquiring surrounding parcels. In 1922 the U.S. Navy began construction on the site, which it was leasing from the county, and in 1926 the Navy was deeded the 413-acre (1.67 km2) field outright. The name Carkeek Park was subsequently given to a new park on the west side of the city, north of Ballard on Puget Sound. This deed amounted to a public gift of $500,000 from the county to the Navy, in 1926 dollars; this would be $5,283,000 in 2005 dollars, not including significant real estate appreciation. The facility then became known as Naval Air Station Sand Point.
Naval Air Station Seattle was deactivated in 1970 and the airfield was shut down; the reduced base was renamed "Naval Support Activity Seattle." Negotiations began as to who would receive the surplus property.
In 1975 a large portion of the Navy's land was given to the City of Seattle and to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The city's land was largely developed as a park and named Sand Point Park. In 1977, it was renamed Magnuson Park in honor of longtime U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson, a former naval officer from Seattle. Both names for the park are commonly used. The airfield runways were demolished in the late 1970s and new construction on the north end for the NOAA was completed in 1982.
Skip 20 years to the present and you will find hiking trails, dog parks, baseball fields, soccer fields, federally protected wetlands, and even an entire low-income living community owned by a non-profit called Solid Ground which happens to be my employer. With the addition of an indoor tennis facility, a refurbished community center, a UofW-owned dental clinic for kids, a restaurant, a mountaineering club, and a brand new tiny-home development in the south end of the park, Magnuson Park has a full-on community with a very diverse population of visitors and residents. Today I took a nice walk around in the park with one of the tenants that I case manage. We talked about the history of the park and he talked about how much it has changed since he was young. I have run, walked, biked, and hiked pretty much every square foot of Magnuson Park. I can say with confidence that it is one of the most diverse and pleasant parks to go to in Seattle.