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Belltown=Denny Regrade?

Like all curious Belltownians I’ve seen the signs for “Regrade Park” on 3rd Street, have heard vague mentions of the Denny Regrade and such, but never knew what this was! So, when bored at work on a Friday morning, what’s more perfect than doing some Belltown history research. 

Check out this pic, the hill before and after! Belltown would have been a totally different place without this regrade project.

Turns out the Regrade was this masive project where “Denny Hill” one of the “Seven Hills of Seattle” (who knew this place was like Rome?? Is there a secret Romulus and Remus story here?) was removed as the hill was sluiced into Elliott Bay by pumping water from Lake Union using the techniques of hydraulic mining. 

Crazy right? 


3 Comments on "Belltown=Denny Regrade?"

  1. Justin Baird | April 24, 2009 at 11:32 am |

    They are actually two different places that we now tend to merge into one.
    When Denny Hill was still there, a few buildings sprang up on the downhill side closer to the waterfront: Belltown. The developer, however, lost his mind and moved away (another story). The Agnes Bell Building, for example, is in “Belltown”. The very flat area, however, to the north of that (part of 3rd, 4th, 5th and beyond, reaching down to Stewart, was Denny Hill. Sluicing the hill into both Elliott Bay and the tideflats where 4th Ave South is brought the Hill into the same level as Belltown, blurring the distinction. Prior to that earth filling in the tideflats, the area from Royal Brougham south was under water twice a day right up to where I-5 is now. The earth into the bay was designed to provide better access to the docks (our present day waterfront) since the original coastline was a severe angle. A sea-wall was built to contain the earth, earth sluiced in and railroad ties put on top, later Alaskan Way. The best part is, that sea-wall is going to go at some point and unless the stupid viaduct is replaced (and seawall rebuilt) Denny Hill will indeed then slide into Elliott Bay one day, with the broken seawall and Ivar’s, et al 🙂

  2. We’re going to have to have a reocurring history section on this site. I had no idea we’re living on the edge 😉

  3. Thanks for sharing Justin. I had figured there was something unique to this whole area by hearing the term “regrade,” reminded me of a part of Chicago near the lakefront that was “reclaimed” from the lake to develop the city further. Great to learn even more on this.

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