Find Posts By Topic

A new, community-requested public space is coming to Belltown!

A rendering of the Portal Porch. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Blog Stats: 700 words | 4-minute read 


  • Construction of the new 1st & Battery Portal Porch is nearly complete!  
    • This new outdoor public space reimagines the former location of the Battery Street Tunnel south entrance (portal) as a welcoming place for the neighborhood. 
  • Learn about the history of this project, including the decommissioning of the Battery Street Tunnel. 
  • See what the 1st & Battery Portal Porch will look like and how public input helped us design a community-centered space. 
  • Join us August 25th from 3 PM to 6 PM to celebrate the official opening with free ice cream, entertainment, and more. 

Thanks to input from the Belltown community, we are in the final stages of construction for the 1st & Battery Portal Porch! This outdoor, public space is intended to be a gathering place for anyone to relax and enjoy views of Elliot Bay. To celebrate completing this project, we will be hosting an opening celebration at 3pm on August 25th!

City and community leaders will be there for a few remarks. Afterward, stay to play Giant Jenga and Giant Connect Four in the new Porch Space plus enjoy ice cream courtesy of Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream! 

“The Belltown neighborhood is one of the liveliest in our city, a place for residents and visitors alike to see a show, visit a gallery, and enjoy the rich history of music and art that make this one of our city’s most culturally rich communities. By transforming this former highway entrance at the request of the community, we are adding a new space for people to gather, connect, and enjoy expansive views of our waterfront.”

Seattle City Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis

Project Background

Before becoming a shared outdoor space for the Belltown neighborhood, the location was the south portal (entrance) to the Battery Street Tunnel, which connected to the old Alaskan Way Viaduct — both constructed in the 1950s. These projects were innovative for the time and played an important role in Seattle’s growth by providing a direct connection through downtown to the industrial areas to the south

Left: Workers construct the tunnel – originally called the Battery Street Subway – underground in April 1953. Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives 

Right: Vehicles fill the tunnel on July 16, 1954, to test the new carbon monoxide monitoring system. The Battery Street Tunnel’s health and safety features were cutting edge at the time, including a ventilation system and a heat-activated sprinkler system.  Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives 
An aerial view of the Viaduct passing under 1st Ave via the Battery Street Tunnel’s south portal, where the Belltown Portal Porch is now located. Pictured in 2019. Credit: SDOT 

When the Battery Street Tunnel became vulnerable to damage in the event of an earthquake but too expensive to rehabilitate, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the City of Seattle decided to decommission it. The south portal – which was turned into a solid slope using dirt and gravel — was put in the care of the City.

To decommission the tunnel, Washington State Department of Transportation crews filled it with concrete and then turned the south portal into a slope using dirt and gravel. Credit: WSDOT 

The New Portal Porch 

The Belltown community helped inform the decision to make the land where the south portal was located into a public space for everyone to enjoy. In February 2022, we asked Belltown residents how they’d like to use the future Portal Porch and how it should look. Based on their feedback we created 3 design concepts, and in October 2022 the community voted for their favorites.

“The Portal Porch is an exciting development for the Belltown neighborhood, the waterfront and Downtown Seattle.  Inspired by the community’s vision, the project is a form of Urban Acupuncture that supports the goals of Mayor Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan. The Portal Porch will give residents and visitors a space to relax and connect while enjoying views of Elliott Bay.”

— SDOT Director Greg Spotts

The finished Portal Porch will offer about 1,800 square feet of public space with features that encourage gathering and relaxation for all. The main features, as requested in community surveys, are:

  • Seating and benches in solid and robust materials 
  • Round planters that will house trees and plants 
  • Solar powered pedestrian-scale lights
Final rendering of what the Portal Porch will look like. Credit: SDOT 
Top & bottom: Crews build out the foundation of the approximately 1,800 square foot Portal Porch. Credit: SDOT

1st & Battery Portal Porch Opening Celebration August 25!

Join us Friday, August 25, from 3 PM to 6 PM at 1st Avenue and Battery Street (Across from ORA Nightclub).

Come learn about the history of the Portal and Battery Street Tunnel! Meet with local City officials, your Belltown neighbors, and community organizations while enjoying ice cream courtesy of Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream.

Questions about the project? Email Matthew Howard at or call (206) 482-0475. 

We hope you have a chance to check out this great community gathering space soon!