It was Memorial Day weekend, a few years ago. A warm day but not hot. Great time to visit the Space Needle observation deck. Of course the Center was packed with Folklifers that day. Looking at this mass of people from 520 feet taught a surprising lesson.
Seattle residents love sun, right? They’ll do anything to get more of it. We design our parks and buildings to capture as much of it as possible. All good? Well, to a point.
Almost directly below the Space Needle is the Mural Amphitheatre, one of the Center’s larger concert venues. At first glance that day, it looked 1/4 full. On second glance, the people were there, but they were packed around the shade trees on the perimeter. People were out in droves, but avoiding the sun.
What does that mean? Clearly, anecdotal evidence isn’t a mandate. Sunlight is important. But it’s an interesting window on what people, many of them, really prefer.
A new amphitheatre is being discussed for the Memorial Stadium site. Will this have lots of trees around the edges? Perhaps a nice shady grove or two? I hope so. People sit in amphitheatres for long periods. Heat and glare are just the start. Two hours can be bad-sunburn territory. Other walkways at the center should have trees as well.
And yes, let’s add more street trees. For those of us who take long walks and aren’t sun worshippers, nothing is worse than block after block in blazing sun. And few things are finer than the cooling effect and ambiance of a canopy of huge trees, or at least mid-sized ones.