A Truly Emerald City

More parks, recreation and fun in the urban landscape

The vision

  • Downtown has a robust and varied collection and distribution of parks and public spaces that meet the growing demand of residents, visitors and office workers
  • Natural systems help restore nature and are woven into the public realm
  • Each neighborhood’s built and natural environment promotes health and well-being

How we'd get there

Transform one or more downtown corridors into a linear park with no or minimal vehicles


  • Third Avenue transit and pedestrian spine, or an Emerald Mile
  • King Street in Little Saigon, Jackson Street underpass park

Connect parks and open space with a network of well-landscaped streets, trails and trees


  • An Emerald necklace of connected streets, greenways, or garden streets

Encourage and better leverage private development for public space and nature access


  • Free fitness and playground equipment in indoor/outdoor spaces with views
  • Public roofs and sky gardens

Create more places to play for people of all ages, especially in neighborhoods that lack open space


  • First Hill, Chinatown International District, Belltown, and Denny Triangle
  • Movable public space/play space that can go from neighborhood to neighborhood, giant slides in the public right-of-way, musical play equipment

Foster native plants and diversity of plant life in public spaces as working exhibits


  • Feature plants important to native culture, including cedar trees, ferns, etc.

Diversify public open spaces by programming levels and landscaping


  • Space for music, culture, sports, commerce, vendors, markets, cooking demos, weddings
  • Spaces designed for temporary or seasonal transformation (summer and winter, weekday and weekend)

How we strive for equity

  • Focus on natural and restorative systems in the areas with the greatest need
  • Have cultural and intergenerational playgrounds and public spaces that support community programs year-round

icons of two people holding hands with text bubbles above their heads

What we've heard

  • Space for music, culture, and events (e.g. musicians in parks, spaces that support cultural fairs, or open performance and gathering spaces)
  • Places designed for intergenerational play and interaction
  • Places are safe and lively at all times of the day

Great examples from Seattle and beyond

Photo depicts two dozen or so children playing at a public water park in an urban setting. In the background, people lay out on the grass in the sun, beneath big  green trees. Around the water's edge, there are chairs available for sitting.

Jamison Square in Portland is a popular oasis on hot summer days.
Photo credit: Sam Beebe

 Image of a sandy park with chairs, umbrellas and tables in the middle of a city square. There is a large statue and tall, pale-colored office buildings in the background. Light green trees line the street on either side of the statue which is on the edge of the sandy park. People are seated at tables, under ubmrellas and children sit in and play with the sand.

Detroit’s Campus Martius Park provides a public beach and concert space in the summer and a winter park and ice-skating rink in the winter, located in Detroit’s Central Business District along the QLine streetcar route.
Photo credit: Michigan Municipal League

a group of people stand on the elevated highline pedestrian bridge in an urban setting surrounded by trees and with a streetart mural in the background

Manhattan's High Line is a linear park featuring art, gardens and public gathering spaces along an historic, elevated freight line.
Photo credit: Bryan Ledgard