First, a bit of background to today’s adventure. For those of you who are familiar with Seattle and Amusement Parks, you know that they are not very commonly part of the same conversation. Seattle had a small carnie-like park next to the Space Needle called the Fun Forest, which was part of the remnants of the 1962 Worlds Fair. Due to its lack of popularity and financial hardships, it closed in 2010. The other park most amusement park fans many know of in the area is Wild Waves, which is just about 20-30 minutes South of downtown in Federal Way. A decent water park and amusement park that works for the area, but no means on the same level of world renowned parks like that of the Disney Parks, Universal Studios or Sea World Parks. But back in the early part of the 1900’s there was a seaside park on a pier like many that were built in the time called Luna Park
Built on a Bardwalk over Elliot Bay and on the shore of Alki Point in West Seattle, Luna Park was only a ferry ride away from Downtown. Many people could see the lights of the park dance across the water, wanting to enjoy the offerings of this place of entertainment. Opened in 1907 featuring a carosuel with hand-carved horses, a figure-eight roller coaster, several dark rides and a natatorium for swimming year-round, the park was a big hit for the Seattle area, with offerings that rivaled other amusement parks of the time (Some of which, like Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, are still open to this day). There were some residents of West Seattle, however, who were not fans of the rougher side that came with the park as it hosted one of the largest bars on the bay. Several visitors also sustained injuries at the park due to falling from rides, and the park would see it’s demise in 1913 after new ownership failed to keep the park open.
The carousel has since been relocated to Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, where it still operates. The natatorium remained open until 1931 when it suffered damage from a fire that would lead to it’s demolition two years later, but the pools remained until they were filled and the plot was converted into a small park and pier with benches to enjoy the view of Elliot Bay and Downtown Seattle. Today, I went to pay a visit to Luna Park’s old site.
Not knowing if there was anything associated with the old park, I had looked up the approximate location on the roller coaster database (rcdb.com) and it led me to the area shown above around the intersection of Harbor Ave. and Fairmont Ave. The area was not quite the location of the park, but they did have a sculpture (shown below) that paid tribute to the park that once entertained many.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that it was only a short drive a little further up to the spot where Luna Park once sat, and to my excitement, there were indicators of where it used to reside
Above is the site that was once home to Luna Park. As indicated in the parkers shown below, the grassy area was one of the old pools of the Natatorium, and the rest of the park was built on a boardwalk over Elliot Bay towards the right and forwards from the current little park you see above.
Now, while the park is no longer there, I stood in the little park and imagined for a moment what it would have been like if this park were still there today, even if it had changed over the years to become more modern, perhaps with a newer roller coaster built in it’s place, or more modern thrill rides that you can find in today’s parks. Could you imagine how awesome this park could have looked with a beautiful city like Seattle in the background? I would have absolutely loved it!
But alas, there is no longer an amusement park in this spot, just the remains of the pier, some of which you can still see when the tide is low enough. While the tide wasn’t quite low enough today to see a lot of the remaining footers, you could still see some of them.
Upon a closer look and you can see them in the open water here and there, as well as some under the mini park that remains
With that, we bid farewell to the former home of Luna Park, and go on to a restaurant that I had no idea existed until today, the Luna Park Café.
This restaurant was once a gas station, and is part of a bigger office and apartment building. It pays tribute to the park that once stood just north of it’s location. Home to the self-proclaimed best milkshake in Seattle as well as gourmet burgers, this place did not disappoint!
The restaurant itself contains portraits and artifacts from the old Luna Park including signs, coin operated amusements and decorations. Some of the really cool items that they had included the mechanical band that sits above the door as you enter (It still operates, just without music)
As for the food, I had a French dip, and was surprised by how quickly it was prepared. I unfortunately didn’t try one of their milkshakes as I was too full, but it was a good meal.
If you happen to be looking for an item to bring home to commemorate your visit to the restaurant, they have you covered! Everything from pint glasses and mugs, to books about the park and t-shirts. I had to fight the temptation to buy the book to add to my amusement park library. Once I start working again here in Seattle, that may be a different story
Overall, I give my approval to the Luna Park Café, and recommend it to anyone who happens to be in Seattle, especially if you are an amusement park fan like me, who enjoys going to see old relics from the park. Plus they even give you a sticker for visiting 🙂
With that, I thank you all for checking out my report of visiting Seattle’s Amusement Park Past. I hope that you will join me again for future updates here on The Traveling Mr. Taylor.
Take Care and Safe Travels!
“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”