The northwest corner of the United States is a bevy of islands and waterways, and inside it all is Seattle, Washington. Here is a look at a few of the waterways in the Seattle area.
Flying into Seattle, air passengers get a glimpse of the water that surrounds the city. Not only is the Puget Sound bounding the west, but you see islands, channels, canals, and lakes in every direction.
By consulting the maps below, you can see the unique layout of the land and water in the Seattle area.
Puget Sound is a large saltwater estuary system fed by the Olympic and Cascade Mountain watersheds. More info: Puget Sound Wikipedia
The city’s Discovery Park (below) overlooks the Sound, as do many other smaller parks.
This photo demonstrates the operating shipyards in Seattle.
The ferris wheel is a popular Seattle waterfront attraction.
There are 21 state-operated ferries on Puget Sound and many additional public tourist vessels, as well as hundreds of private boats. Some residents commute by ferry.
Many of Seattle’s surrounding islands are havens for tourists and residents looking for a quieter way of life. Vashon Island, pictured below, is a 20-minute ferry ride from Seattle.
In addition to the Puget Sound’s dominating influence, there are many other waterways too.
Situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the city is bisected in the middle by a series of canals and locks called the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
This canal system connects the Sound to the Lake.
A person can traverse across the city entirely on boat.
Several busy urban neighborhoods have canals flowing through them. Often there is a park alongside the canal, where you can watch boats quietly cruise by. Here you can see there is an office building and a parking lot directly adjacent to this canal.
Bays, creeks and the Duwamish River also occupy significant Seattle real estate. According to Wikipedia, water comprises approximately 41% of the total area of the city.
With all of these waterways come bridges.
There are approximately 150 bridges within Seattle’s city limits. Floating bridges, drawbridges, double-deckers…old, new, and a few historical.
List of Bridges in Seattle, Wikipedia
The Fremont Bridge, in the two photos below, is the most frequently opened drawbridge in the U.S. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, built in 1917. The second photo shows it opened.
There are also some major lakes in Seattle. Last week I presented a post on Green Lake, but there are two other major lakes here, too.
Washington Lake, stretching the city’s eastern side, is the second largest natural lake in the state of Washington (second to Lake Chelan). It is 22 miles long (35 km), enormous, and is classified as a ribbon lake for its glacially formed long, narrow and finger-like shape.
Lake Union, part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal system, is a large and popular lake. Houseboats, seaplanes, rowing teams and many other kinds of boats line this lake.
In 2014 I had the thrill of boarding a seaplane at Lake Union and flying over the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands to Victoria, Canada. It was a commercial operation flying small Cessnas via Kenmore Air Harbor.
Walk for ten minutes in Seattle and you will see a seaplane up above.
The Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, located on South Lake Union, outlines the city’s maritime history.
This vessel below, the Virginia V, is docked there. The steamer, launched in 1922, primarily transported passengers between Tacoma and Seattle.
Glass artist Dale Chihuly, who was born in Washington State, has brought a plethora of art and artistry to Seattle, often highlighting the sea life that is so deeply rooted here.
Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass is an indoor/outdoor museum exclusively featuring his art. A few of his maritime pieces are pictured below.
This glass sea star (below) is a sprightly detail of the bigger sculpture entitled Sea Life (below).
Many of his glorious glass works celebrate the sea, including this elegant octopus.
This community of waterways is one of the best parts of Seattle. The sea air, winds and waters are a great reminder of the wild and wonderful side of this seaport city.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.