Morgan Junction Facts:
The Morgan Junction urban village encompasses 115 acres centered at the intersection of California Avenue SW, Fauntleroy Way SW, and SW Morgan Street, which is the commercial center of the surrounding neighborhood.
The surrounding Morgan Junction neighborhood covers two square miles and extends from SW Brandon Street to the north, SW Kenyon Street to the south, 35th Avenue SW to the east, and Puget Sound and Lincoln Park to the west.
Stop 1: (Start of Tour)
High Point Reservoir viewpoint, 3510 SW Myrtle Street
- Highest elevation in the city of Seattle (about 525 feet above sea level)
- Anchors the east end of the Green Crescent
- High Point reservoir will be covered in the future by the Seattle Water Department to meet federal water-quality standards. Once a lid is built over the reservoir, it may be possible to enlarge the area accessible to the public around the reservoir.
- Major land uses: The High Point public housing project (750 units of very low income family housing) is located to the northeast. The tall U-Haul sign at 35th and Morgan is a local eyesore. The Morgan neighborhood lies predominantly to the north and west of the viewpoint.
Drive to Stop 2
Down west side of Gatewood Hill
North on 36th Avenue SW, which turns
West on SW Myrtle Street
North on 37th Avenue SW
West on SW Warsaw Street
South on 38th Avenue SW
West on SW Willow Street
South on 38th Avenue SW
- The preservation of views is an issue of major importance to neighborhood residents. Much of the concern about view blockage has been directed at apartment and condominium buildings in the business district, but single-family homes can be built taller than buildings in most of the commercial zones.
- New (or remodeled) houses are often quite large and boxy. These are the greatest threat to most peoples' views, because they cannot be challenged by neighbors, provided the house meets the size, height, and setback standards set forth in the zoning code.
- Underground power lines are on the west slope of Gatewood Hill. These were installed more than 20 years ago to enhance views. The undergrounding was paid for by neighborhood residents using a local improvement district (LID). Today, it costs anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 for a typical property to underground utility lines.
Continue driving to Stop 2
Drive down into the Orchard Street Ravine
Continue south on 39th Avenue SW
Left on SW Orchard Street (at bottom of ravine)
Follow SW Orchard Street to end of street
Orchard Street Ravine
- Park, get out, walk around if you like
- Typical of several major ravines that cut through our community
- Many of our ravines have been invaded by blackberry vines and non-native plant species, such as ivy.
- Unimproved street rights-of-way provide opportunities for enhancing open space without spending tax dollars to acquire private property.
- Some private property owners are encroaching on public land with garages, driveways, and other improvements.
- Note the sign. Some land in this area has been acquired for public open space under the open space bond issue.
Drive to Stop 3
South margin of Morgan Junction business district
Reverse direction; head downhill (west) on SW Orchard Street to California Avenue SW
Turn right on California Avenue SW
Head north along California Avenue
- Gatewood School on the left is the largest single land-use in the Morgan Junction urban village. It is currently used as an elementary school. The site has excellent views and could be redeveloped with another use if the school was closed in the future.
- Note the mix of land uses along California Avenue SW. This stretch of California is zoned for low-rise multifamily and neighborhood commercial development.
- The small bungalow houses on the west side of the street date back to the 1910s and 1920s and represent the original type of development in the neighborhood. Multifamily and commercial development have gradually encroached on the area over the ensuing decades. The large apartment and condominium buildings on the east side of the street have been constructed since the 1980s. The size and scale of some of the newer buildings has created opposition to similar development in the neighborhood.
- The McDonald's sign is another eyesore to people who live above it on the hill.
Continue driving to Stop 3
Drive to Lincoln Park Annex
Follow Fauntleroy Way west and south
Turn left (east) at SW Othello Street
Turn right (south) at Vashon Place SW
Stop at Vashon Place SW and SW Fontanelle Street
- The intersection of California and Fauntleroy is the center of the business district Fauntleroy is the principal arterial connecting the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth ferry with the rest of Seattle.
- The housing along Fauntleroy is typical of homes found in non-view areas of our neighborhood.
- Kenney Home (on the right) major institutional use and local landmark.
Stop 3 (Walking Tour)
Lincoln Park Annex
The Lincoln Park Annex is the large open space south of Fontanelle Street. Hike up the foot trail to the top of the hill
- This 12 acre site is owned by the Seattle Parks Department
- It is the site of a landslide that occurred around 1980
- The hill you are standing on is an engineered berm designed to hold the hillside in place. At present, it is an under-utilized open space, but has sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, Lincoln Park to the southwest, and the Morgan Junction neighborhood to the north.
- MoCA is currently involved in planning improvements to this site. These will include a viewpoint/plaza at the top of the berm (where you are standing), a community garden/P-Patch at the base of the slope next to the tennis courts, an upgraded trail system to connect the neighborhood at the top of the hill with Lincoln Park, enhancement of the forest and marshy areas on the uphill portion of the site, public artwork, and landscaping/vegetation/habitat improvements throughout the site.The improvements will not affect the stability of the slope.
Drive to Stop 4
Downhill to Puget Sound at Lowman Beach
Turn right (north) on Fauntleroy Way SW
Drive one block; then turn left (west) on SW Othello Street (at the Cat's Eye Café)
Drive west one block on SW Othello Street
Turn right onto Lincoln Park Way SW
Follow Lincoln Park Way to the bottom of the hill
- Traffic going to and from the Fauntleroy ferry dock frequently clogs this street.
- The area along Lincoln Park Way is an enclave of multifamily development.
Stop 4 (Walking Tour)
- Lowman Beach Park is a popular waterfront gathering place
- Lincoln Park, one of the city's oldest and largest, is a few blocks to the south
- Beach Drive extends north along the shoreline to Alki Beach.
- Parking is often at a premium in this area.
- Note some of the old beach cottages along the water and in the surrounding area. This area began as a second-home/resort district, but now all the houses are used as full-time residences.
Drive to Stop 5
Northwest sector of neighborhood
Turn right (east) on SW Graham Street
Go east on Graham Street to California Avenue SW; find place to park.
- 48th Avenue climbs through a wooded ravine to a plateau about 200 feet above sea level.
- Plateau neighborhood has mainly small bungalow houses that have no views. Large mansions occupy cliff–top view sites on the west side of 50th Avenue SW (two blocks to the west).
- Existing small lots/houses along SW Graham Street.
Stop 5 (Walking Tour)
Core of business district
Walk south along California to Fauntleroy Way and back again.
- Note the character of buildings at the intersection of SW Graham Street and California Avenue SW. Older commercial buildings are in the northwest quadrant of the intersection. Auto-oriented strip development (sandwich shop) is in the northeast quadrant. A large multifamily building with no commercial space is in the southeast corner, and a mix of older and newer commercial and mixed-use buildings line the west side of California south of Graham.
- Potential for community plaza at the upper end of Eddy Street Ravine (next to the Short Stop grocery/cleaners). This ravine extends down to the vicinity of Lowman Beach.
- The large round tower is Cal-Mor Circle, a low-income senior housing project. Current zoning does not allow buildings this tall to be constructed in the business district today.
- New commercial/mixed-use investment in business district. Examples include the Thriftway supermarket (which replaced a store destroyed by fire in 1997), the renovated commercial building housing Starbucks in the southwest corner of California and Fauntleroy, and Ivy Court, the large mixed-use structure south of the Starbucks building.
- The five-way intersection of Fauntleroy, California, and SW Morgan Street has considerable traffic circulation and congestion problems. The landscaped triangle in the southeast corner of the intersection represents an opportunity to improve the layout of the intersection and create some public open space.
- To the north, California Avenue extends to the Alaska Junction, the Admiral district, and the Duwamish Head, where a viewpoint offers a sweeping vista of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay.
- Fauntleroy Way winds northeast through a "pass" between two ridges to connect with the West Seattle Freeway, Interstate 5, and the "mainland" of Seattle. It is one of only three routes which connect West Seattle with the rest of the city.