Green Lake: Seattle’s Former Fireworks Show Destination

July 3, 2014 6:38am

Independence Day Fireworks over Green Lake in 1947. Photo credit: MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection, used with permission.

Did you know Green Lake was the site of one of the largest Independence Day fireworks celebrations in Seattle for 60 years? According to a 2010 article originally posted on My Green Lake and reposted by the Seattle P-I, from 1920 to 1980 crowds of up to 250,000 people converged on the neighborhood to take in the fireworks show, which was usually launched from Duck Island.

The show was not enjoyable for some Green Lake residents. According to a 1952 Seattle Times letter to the editor, Green Lake resident Thomas Glisan wrote:

As a long-time resident of the Phinney — West Green Lake district, I should like to see a few expressions of opinion with respect to the continuation of the Fourth of July fireworks at Green Lake.

I have no dispute with the fireworks as such, as they do provide enjoyment for many thousands of people.  However, their enjoyment should under no circumstances be at the continued expense of the Green Lake residents who, after all, might enjoy spending a July 4th holiday in some other manner than in doing police duty around their yards and homes.

In 1941 (our first July 4th as Green Lake residents) we made the mistake of being away from home while the fireworks were in progress.  Returning just before the show’s conclusion we found: Six boys on the roof (the roof leaked that winter from the damage); part of the rockery knocked down; most of the shrubs trampled; lighted cigarettes and cigar stubs on both porches (the back porch is of wood); rockery plants torn out; a car parked in the basement driveway (it runs downhill) pressing the double doors in and the place generally looking like a cyclone had hit.

With all justice, this curse should not again be fastened on the people of Green Lake and I believe I voice the consensus of thousands of homeowners in this district.

After 1980, the show moved to Lake Union, taking the crowds (and sometimes the chaos) with it.

Learn more about the history of Independence Day at Green Lake in this 2010 article (written by Amy Duncan) here.