Facelift for Historic McGraw Square

SDOT recently broke ground on a new transit mall and pedestrian plaza adjacent to McGraw Square at the terminus of the South Lake Union Streetcar. The project will add more trees and a green rain garden to drain plaza storm water runoff. It also includes energy efficient (LED) colored light tiles, artistic granite pavers, seat walls and a covered Streetcar shelter and bicycle parking. The new public space celebrates and increases access to the historic McGraw Square statue originally built in 1913. The project aims to increase links to the retail core and provide a unique public place to help orient new housing and economic development.

The plaza makes walking and biking through this area of north downtown much easier, and enhances connections to streetcar, local and regional buses, and monorail. The space will permanently close the tail end of Westlake Ave. between Stewart St. and Olive Way where traffic volumes were low and closure reduces pressure on the complicated five-way intersection at Fifth Ave and Olive Way. At a ground breaking celebration for the plaza Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith spoke and a crowd showed up, including students from the Spruce Street School on Virginia Street, to make chalk art in the street.

Construction is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving. The Seattle Streetcar and buses on Fifth Avenue will remain in service during construction. This project is part of the City’s larger Center City Strategy for encouraging thousands of new residents and businesses in the urban core and making Westlake one of three transportation “hubs” serving downtown (the others being King Street Station and Colman Dock).To learn more about the project visit Westlake Streetcar Plaza.