Leschi’s Jewels-by-the-Lake

Imagine a quiet time on a small piece of green space next to Lake Washington.

The Leschi neighborhood has five of these unique green spaces — public street ends that terminate on the shore of Lake Washington: running along Lakeside Avenue South from the south to the north are the shoreline street ends at South Judkins Street, S Norman St., S Charles St., S Dearborn St., and S King St. — also known as the “Leschi String of Pearls”. They enliven the walk along the Lake from Leschi Park south to I-90. These street ends are maintained mostly by neighborhood volunteers, with some help from neighbors’ gardeners and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) landscape crews.

Each street end has individual character ranging from almost formal to almost nature.

South Judkins shoreline street end is a popular fishing and swimming spot due to its concrete ledge at the water. Unique to S. Judkins is a view of Mt. Baker on a clear day. It has a large soft gravel plaza that makes it attractive for larger groups, and maintenance is currently coordinated by Joyce Moty and Karen Daubert, from the Mt. Baker neighborhood, which worked jointly with Leschi to develop and maintain the area. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) provides additional maintenance.

South Norman shoreline street end is another popular swimming spot for young visitors. It is maintained mostly by the gardener of the neighbor to the north, but requires occasional care by volunteer neighborhood stewards.

South Charles shoreline street end wins the award for charm with its bench in the middle next to shore surrounded by some fine landscape plants. Adjacent neighbors mow the grass, as an obligation for using part of the right-of-way property. Earlier this year, neighborhood volunteers combined with volunteers from Tree Ambassadors (a program sponsored by the City) cleared the areas of overgrowth, blackberries, and ivy.

South Dearborn shoreline street end has been most demanding of volunteer cleanup efforts this year. This street end is a broad grassy area with two benches, but it has a problem with a neglected sector at the north end that was taken over by blackberries. So far, neighborhood volunteers have had three work parties. This overgrowth will take concerted effort to reclaim and replant.

South King shoreline street end is the nature green space. It surrounds visitors with beds of plants native to the Northwest and is much loved by birds. Neighbors use this street end as a nature retreat, a kayak launch, and occasionally for swimming. This street end has two benches and is maintained by volunteers.

All of these street ends, except South Judkins, have good views of Mt. Rainier, when is it not hazy.

A potential future shoreline street end is South Jackson Street, which is currently a large asphalt parking lot. There is a corner at the northeast that could be made into a small sitting area to enjoy the view of Mt. Rainier.

Most of the neighborhood work parties are coordinated by the Leschi Community Council and are announced in the back page calendar of the Leschi News.

It should be noted that two of the original volunteer sponsors of these street ends, Karen Daubert (Mt. Baker neighborhood) and John Barber, (Leschi) have led a city-wide group to promote the improvement and maintenance of Seattle’s 150 shoreline street ends, called “Friends of Street Ends”. Friends of Street Ends meets quarterly and works closely with SDOT. With the help of Leschi neighbor, Adam Tycaster, Friends of Street Ends is developing a website.

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