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Seattle's City Hall Park reopens after 2-year closure, following violent incidents

Downtown Seattle's City Hall Park reopened Tuesday, two years after it was closed in response to a string of violent incidents. It has since undergone a lot of changes.

“City Hall Park is revitalized," said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Patrick Oishi at the reopening event. "Hopefully, as people are coming here, people will feel much more safe and comfortable when coming to the courthouse and accessing justice."

Judge Oishi said that in the past, court employees and jurors have expressed safety concerns. He also hopes court employees and others can go back to using the space as a popular lunch spot.

The park located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Yesler Way garnered a lot of attention over the summer of 2021. In June of that year, a letter signed by 33 county judges cited safety concerns and urged city officials to close the park. It was closed after a stabbing, and an attempted rape at the nearby King County Courthouse. In August 2021, an encampment at the park was cleared. Eventually, Seattle and King County agreed to a land swap and the county took ownership of the park.

For two years, City Hall Park has been fenced off, and has undergone a clean up. The public was welcomed back this week.

Gavin Muller works at the courthouse. On Tuesday, he ordered lunch from a food truck at the park. He said he’s excited to have his lunch spot back as there are not many green spaces in the area.

“It's been kind of a bummer that it's been fenced off," Muller said. "This is kind of my one spot to eat lunch, not inside the courthouse. I hope that it stays open. I hope that it's a good environment for people to hang out."

The park is slated to get more lights and two patrolling park rangers. The city also plans to bring in more food trucks, buskers, and other entertainment. Muller says he is glad that the rangers will be present, but hopes they will not intimidate or push certain people out. He wants everyone to enjoy the park.

The reopening of City Hall Park was part of Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan. He set revitalizing parks as a top priority. Harrell plans to add 28 patrolling rangers throughout the park system.

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