Lake Union issues

An Urban Lake

“The lake is a treasure.” — Richard Haag, designer of Gas Works Park

Lake Union was gouged out by a glacier more than 12,000 years ago, and parts of it are 50 feet deep. Native Americans referred to it as Tenas Chuck (”little water”); one of their camps existed at the south end of Lake Union until at least 1875. Unfortunately, the early white settlers eventually prohibited Native Americans from living within the Seattle city limits, although a few remained, including Cheshiahud, for whom the walking and bicycling route around the lake is now named.

In the early 1900s, many acres of Lake Union have werefilled in some from the city’s various regrades, and some from the I-5 construction. The 1918 construction of the ship canal connecting Lake Washington to Puget Sound raised Lake Union somewhat, and brought shipyards and other industry. It also made Lake Union also into a river, part of the Green River system draining from Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington into Salmon Bay and Puget Sound.

Few cities feature a lake at their geographic and population center as is Lake Union, now among the world’s most urban lakes. It supports a myriad of uses — shipyards, yacht moorages, residences near and on the water, a major fish run, shore birds, beavers, and other animals, motor boating, bargee traffic, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, international seaplane traffic, tourism, recreation, historic landmarks like Gas Works Park and the Lake Union Steam Plan (ZymoGenetics).

Dating back to its founding in 1971, one of the six official purposes of the Eastlake Community Council is “To maximize public use and enjoyment of the inland waters and shorelines adjoining the Eastlake community.” Toward that end, this section of the ECC web site covers issues regarding Lake Union, including aviation, navigation, water level, and water quality.

City and State consider lighted buoys to mark float plane takeoff and landing area

See the link at right on “Seaplane issues” about a controversial application by the City of Seattle has made to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to install in the outline of a float plane takeoff and landing zone, eight buoys centered in the south half of Lake Union.

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