Located on a peninsula west of Queen Anne Hill, south of the Ballard Locks, and only minutes from downtown Seattle, Magnolia with its natural boundaries has a special feeling of being an island. Accessible by three bridges, Magnolia is a special place to live and visit, yet it still retains a small town atmosphere where you can easily get to know your neighbors.
Although Magnolia trees line the main shopping area along West McGraw Street, the naming of Magnolia was actually a case of mistaken identity. While out at sea, Captain Vancouver saw the huge Madrona trees atop the bluffs on the south end of the peninsula and noted in the ship’s log “Magnolias.” An active group is working to save the remaining Madronas on the bluff.
The natural beauty, lovely vistas, and parks combine to give Magnolia the unique quality that attracts visitors from all over the world. On Magnolia’s south end, you will find Magnolia Park overlooking Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the city skyline. The park provides a picnic area and tennis courts across the street. Also within Magnolia are Smith Cove and the marina. Discovery Park, on Magnolia’s northwest side, encompasses 534 acres and is Seattle’s largest park. The park is home to eagles, herons, falcons, foxes, and beavers. Seven miles of trails provide visitors with a wilderness experience and serene views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Parts of Fort Lawton, such as the officer’s homes and historic buildings, remain.
Adjacent to Discovery Park is West Point Lighthouse. It was built in 1881 and is the oldest lighthouse in the Puget Sound area. Walking trails descend to two miles of beach and the lighthouse from the park.
Another highlight is the library designed in 1964 by architects Paul Hayden Kirk and Richard Haag, who won top awards for design from the American Library Association. In the children’s area of the library sits a statue of a young girl titled “Girl Holding Doves,” designed by Ebba Rapp McLauchlan. Outside hangs a bronze wall sculpture titled “Activity of Thought,” an abstract piece of crisscrossing art designed especially for the library by famed artist Glenn Alps.
In keeping with Seattle’s penchant for coffee, Magnolia currently has numerous well known coffee establishments. Magnolia’s business districts are home to many specialty stores and professional services, some of Seattle’s top award winning restaurants, and industrial and marine services.
Also at home in Magnolia’s four square miles is the oldest lighthouse on Puget Sound, Discovery Park (Fort Lawton), a state-of-the-art water treatment plant largely hidden by foot paths and creative landscaping, and Fisherman’s Terminal, which berths much of Puget Sound’s fishing fleet.