Opinion

South Seattle Cop: Seward Park Much Safer Than Before; Don’t Be Afraid, Just Be Smart & Aware

By South Seattle Cop

Seward Park is no more or less dangerous than any other park. As with any other park, you need to be common-sense about what you do and when. Keep in mind the immense size of the park, which is sometimes hard to appreciate until you look at it on GoogleEarth or something.

There is no illumination in the park after dark with the exception of the lights around the main lot, and one or two odd lights around the lower loop trail. The park interior is completely dark at night, except when moon or starlight can get into the amphitheater area.

As it is large, if something DOES happen and you need to scream for help, keep in mind that unless there is someone in the park with you, and nearby, we have found those screams generally do not make it outside the park bounds to the neighborhoods. Just remember the size and topography.

There is a little known transient population living within the park interior. Those individuals are not necessarily dangerous by default because they are transient, but some of them over the years who migrated there, were found to have done so because it’s a good place for someone who’s violently anti-social to hide-out and avoid police. Don’t be frightened, just be aware, and be smart.

Seward Park is much safer now than it has been in the past. Less bodies are dumped there nowadays, and I think at present the belief is that there is probably only one still in there that we haven’t found, but are reasonably sure is in there somewhere. Back in the roaring 1990?s (anyone live down here back then?) and into the beginning of this decade, gangsters pretty much owned that park, and even had a shooting range set up in it to go try out their “gats” (remember that word?…that takes ya’ back…).

Back then we were not bombarded with news 24/7 all over the internet, and I am not sure anyone in the surrounding area was aware of that back then (maybe). In those days police could not safely enter the park at night except in groups. But the Wild West days of the park are in the past.

Running or walking in the park is fine. Doing it with a dog or a can of pepper-spray handy is better (like any park, really). Keep cognizant of the size and geography of the park, and really think twice about venturing into a park of this size in low lighting/after dark.

I would suggest taking a cell phone, and familiarize yourself with the park (which way is north, south, east, west; which end of the park am I in? how do I get to a paved road from where I am if I needed to so police/fire could reach me quickly, etc…) layout. These are just normal day-to-day good things to be aware of anyway, in a park or otherwise.

Also please observe the posted signs indicating closure hours. Being present in the park after closure hours is Criminal Trespass…just FYI.

With common sense applied, the park is fine. Enjoy.

See you at the park! :-)

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7 comments on “South Seattle Cop: Seward Park Much Safer Than Before; Don’t Be Afraid, Just Be Smart & Aware

  1. As always, I appreciate the professional input. There was a very interesting article in the Seattle paper a couple of months back about the caretaker who lives in the park. It would be an incredible job, it’s a fantastic space. I remember my first week living in Columbia city, being so surprised to hear coyotes howling. So the park is home to all kinds of things.

    That being said, I go there alone, and I even walk the upper road, I’m just alert and I don’t go late in the day. The trail is long enough that even if it’s light when you set out, it may be dark by the time you’re done.

    With the two shooting incidents yesterday that happened within 3 blocks of my house, I’d have to say my own neighborhood is actually more dangerous that Seward Park.

  2. Well maybe I shouldn’t have said ‘shootings’… but there was a report of gunfire around 620 yesterday evening in the vicinity of 8600 wabash.

    Got a message from the block watch folks.

  3. I am on a roll for those of you following the occasional visits of RockDeMarco.

    To reprise: I bought a piccola casa vicino di Seward Park nell 1987. I also tried to meet nice girls during my 2 years in Seattle (left in ’89). Returned to New York and found a very nice girl (luv ya, Ellen!). These nice girls dropped me like a hot potato once they found out where the piccola casa was/is. I’ll never forget some dame being overcome with horror, who then felt compelled to share some “dumped body” story with me that had happend years earlier. Can barely remember her face (though she was nice) let alone her name.

    And then there were the people who should have known better – like the wife of an old Rainier Valley pal of mine – I invited them over for dinner one perfectly miserable Friday night in November 1988 – you know the type – rainy, blustery gross. So I am sorry she had to drive from Crown Heights, but I will never forget (okay, Mary, I forgive you) when she arrived (her husband came separately from work) and her first words were “I don’t know how you can live in a neighborhood like this.”

    And of course, some of you may have read my retelling of the “It’s a great neighborhood: you just can’t be racist” – you know the line that got me fired from my “first and best” job in Seattle (they went downhill from there, three in total, in two years, ah, to be young).

    And then there was the Ballard-dwelling alcoholic boss who (still has a reasonably successful accounting firm) who only once referred to my residence by saying “Whatever the fuck neighborhood you live in.” And he was a paesan – when Italians are racist, they are the worst.

    And do you know bodies are found in Central Park here in New York City to this day some time? So whadya thinik — can we count us South Enders as part of the big city?

    I walked around the perimeter of Seward Park in February of 2008, when I was out for the King of Beacon Hill’s 80th birthday party (not at Palazzo Juneau but Palazzo Willow, where big bro has a real spread). It was after dark – around 8pm I recall – I had spent the afternoon reading about Sprezzaturra in some downtown parking lot occasionally looking up to take in grungers skateboarding, while waiting for my family “to get over” the Super Bowl so I could have dinner with them – I timed it almost perfectly, but unfortunately had to watch the last 5 minutes, where I recall some overpaid but good-looking Italian-American throw a hail Mary pass and win the game. My family was very excited. Iwas ready for dinner. Anyway, after dinner I think there was more sports silliness going on, so I drove to Seward Park and walked the perimeter. It was gorgeious, and there were other people out. So I recommend it.

    I appreciate the note from the police officer, but it was awfully squeamish. Probably best to be that way if you’re a cop: then no one can blame you. Well, no such compunction for this NYC accountant – GO TO THE PARK – it is world class, and though only one-third the size of Central Park, is really grand, and has many things that CP doesn’t have. While cop emphasizes how big it is, I want to remind everyone of how small it is – at less than 300 acres it can’t hold a candle in size to Stanley, where I am sure bodies are also found.

    Oh and the emphasis on the body that is still in there was too much. Please do not mention that to my lovely wife Ellen – she will never let me go in the park again. There is a place for the macabre, but is it necessary when definding a nieghborhood park, Seatle’ s only world-class park?

    For Seattle is a petty city, that has not been capable of very many grand gestures – the money always ran out before the (1) entire freeway could be buried through downtown (no surprise that it was the North End that got buried and the South End that rises up, like a whale breaching; (2) before Cheasty Blvd could connect with Mt. Baker Blvd, (3) before the power lines coul be buried, etc, etc (as they said in Don Pasquale, this Saturday)/

    There is a priceless scene in one of my favorite movies – “State Door” from 1936 – Lucille Ball plays the starving actress from Seattle – there is never enough money, her relatives are not yet eating bark, but getting close, and meahwhile the lumber men want to bring her back, and so she goes. Her letters from home are too sweet in their pettiness.

    So there is a place for petty, but not when defending one of the most glamorous parks in the world – a park that is so much smaller than Stanley, but can beat Stanley hands down in every category, staring with that knock-out view of Rainier from the parking lots.

    Here’s a poem I wrote about Seward while suffering in “Palazzo Pearl” before getting the hell out of Dodge, where I was slowly starving to death:

    Parking (all rights reserved)

    People like to sit in parking lots

    ignoring the park around them.
    Transfixed by music, they are the only park they know.
    Fashionable living near the park meant
    a park filled with people
    not a lot full of cars.
    Walking briskly has become the unfashion
    where the car stereo rules.
    Fashionable living still holds to walking briskly–
    and I saw them, heads held high,
    ignoring the noisy parking lots.

    But fashionable living now lives
    too far from the park of noisy parking lots
    to enter, walking briskly.
    Whose fashion is unfashion in this medley
    of avoidances and arrivals within the park
    of virgin cedars, bald eagles, placid waters,
    and walking briskly/noisy parking lots?
    What does such a medley of fashion/unfashion create?
    –another ugly word that captures our means of coping
    in a postmodern life of nightly TV surreality.
    We thrive by creating surfashion
    ever so surfashionably.
    Mark De Rocco
    9/18/88

  4. “but is it necessary when definding a nieghborhood park, Seatle’ s only world-class park?”

    There is a park that opened in South Lake Union a month or 2 ago that they called “world class” about 20 times during the news story.

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