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Notes from the T Dock

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

We try, on sunny summer afternoons, of which there have been countless this year, to catch a swim in the lake. Typically, it’s a paddle from the south end of the T Dock to the log boom at the Leschi Marina and back.

Although commonly known as the Leschi T Dock, the 142-foot-long structure is part of Madrona Park. It was dedicated in November 1964 as the Leschi Fishing Pier, costing the city $6,100. It was renovated in 1989 when wood planks were replaced by Trex-like plastic material which gets burning hot in the sun. The closest public restroom is north of the dance studio (which does make one wonder where everyone “goes”).

Each summer the scene on the T Dock takes a new twist. In the past few years, crowds of twenty-somethings have ballooned often arriving by Uber while fewer kids and families from the neighborhood frequent the dock. Getting to the end of the pier entails stepping over many tanning bodies. This year, what with the heat and the city’s population growth, the dock has grown so popular that we wonder if there are limits to how much weight the pilings can bear! What was once a neighborhood hangout has become a trendy meeting spot replete with more drinking, more topless bathers, more tattoos, more gender fluidity. The T Dock has become a reflection of the changing demographics of the city.

Not everyone appreciates the change. This year spraypainted graffiti appeared in mid-August when the temperature in the water reached a balmy 74 degrees. Three lines painted in green just before the “T.”

No Kids

No Dogs

No Tech $

A few days later: “Don’t Come Back” was written in large white letters to be read by sun seekers returning to shore.

Then: “*@^%# Your Sensibilities” and another line which won’t be printed here. Apparently not everyone wants to share this public space. The protester didn’t leave a name. But visitors seem to be ignoring the demands just as they disregard the “No Swimming/No Diving” signage plastered on the east end of the pier.

As the days shorten and the water cools the territorial tension will no doubt ease and the T Dock will return to its original purpose—a place where folks can go to fish, and where locals walk out and peer through the winter gloom to see snow on the Cascades and feel the gratitude for the resources the neighborhood is blessed with.

~Anne Depue


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