Destination Maritime: Lake Washington Boulevard
In 2009, in commemoration of the A-Y-P Exposition centennial, the Model T Ocean to Ocean Endurance Run traveled the width of the country, with the trek’s final leg following one of the more scenic routes in King County. Heading west from Issaquah the morning of July 12, and closely tracing the original 1909 auto race route to the UW campus, 55 vintage Fords followed SR 900 to Renton, turning north on Rainier Avenue, before connecting with Lake Washington Boulevard, where drivers and passengers were treated to stunning lake views that many locals take for granted, but several Model T’ers experienced for the first time.
This last stretch of their journey has strong connections to early automobiles and historical roots predating the Model T. Designed in 1903 by the Olmsted Brothers as linkage to city parks, Lake Washington Boulevard still maintains its gentle tree-lined curves along the lake’s gradually sloping shore. As one motors north, the scenery along the road changes from meticulously manicured lawns and sweeping views of the water, to the heavily-wooded Washington Park Arboretum.
Anyone witnessing the Model T caravan nearing its final destination in 2009, may have thought that they had been transported back in time, when Lake Washington Boulevard beckoned families dressed in their Sunday best to climb into tin lizzies for a leisurely shoreline drive. Today, it doesn’t take a vintage vehicle to experience the Olmsted’s legacy. Take a car or bike trip off the beaten path within Seattle’s city limits by following the lake route.
Lake Washington Boulevard, A-Y-P Model T event © 2009, photo by 4Culture staff