Liberty Park - 1908
The famous Olmsted brothers designed Liberty Park. The Olmsted brothers, Landscape Architects, were the most famous urban planners in America. In 1898 the Olmsted brothers; John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted. Jr formed a prominent landscape design company. The Olmsted brothers designed many important projects, many of which still exist today, including parks, universities, exposition grounds, libraries, hospitals, and state capitols. Some examples include the United States Capitol and White House Grounds, Central Park in New York, and the entire park systems in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Their purpose for Liberty Park was to make the park fit into its surroundings. In 1908, the park board approved their plans for Liberty Park, and construction began.
The area where Liberty Park was located was 18 acres and provided many ideal features such as shelter from strong winds, and evening shade on hot summer days. The park would feature a lake, softball diamond, tennis and croquet courts, pergola, two octagons, and a shelter house. They also saw some basins that they would turn into ponds. But to get the land, the Olmsted brothers needed a lot of money. A man named Mr. Aubrey White and the other board members made a donation of $1,000,000. Over the years, other facilities such as a swimming pool, playground equipment, and picnic areas were added. All that work started at the Northwest corner of the park by a contractor named Mr. Yeamens. Over the next few years, Liberty Park became a fully developed area.
In the 1920’s, people were starting to have safety problems. They wanted the park board to drain the lake, and fence off the cliffs of Liberty Park. Surprisingly, the park board did not do it.
Sadly in 1968, Liberty Park would be forever changed. The state decided to put in an east-west freeway called I-90 directly through the heart of Liberty Park. That plan ended up swallowing 18.75 acres of Liberty Park and taking away the lake and ponds. It took at least 1 or 2 years to make the highway. When it was done, there was only 2 acres left of Liberty Park including the existing swimming pool. Liberty Park, one of Spokane’s prettiest parks, envisioned by the Olmsted brothers was lost forever.
But that was not the end of Liberty Park. The state highway Department paid the park board $630,000 for the land that was lost. That money was used to buy some developed land that was east of the park. Many of the original features would be recreated in the new expanded area. The Park also featured a new play field and tennis courts. This would bring glimpses of Liberty Park’s former glory. After all the improvements and repairs, Liberty Park became one of the oldest parks in Spokane and is still standing and being visited by many people in Spokane.
Photos used with permission from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/ Eastern Washington State Historical Society.
L87-1.2210-09= Liberty Park
L97-19.360 = Liberty Pond
L88-34.1 = Liberty land
copyright (c) 2007, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Report created May, 2005 + 2007.
Revised: August 21, 2007; 10/4/2009
Last Modified on August 2, 2011