City to work on SW Thistle stairway next year: What do you want to see?

(WSB file photo)

If you use West Seattle’s longest stairway – along the SW Thistle right-of-way, east of Lincoln Park, west of Northrop Place – you might have noticed some markings along its top section this fall, suggesting plans for future work. In fact, SDOT is planning “improvements” on the 61-year-old stairway next year. It’s the only West Seattle stairway on the map/list of 10 citywide slated for SDOT work in 2017. If you use the stairway, here’s a survey open until December 30th, asking what you would like to see done, and what the city should know before its project begins.

27 Replies to "City to work on SW Thistle stairway next year: What do you want to see?"

  • Diane December 21, 2016 (3:29 pm)

    17 yrs in WS and never knew this staircase existed

    • Alan December 21, 2016 (3:51 pm)

      If you didn’t know that one existed, then you may have missed others. Most people do. Here is a map.

      • WSB December 21, 2016 (3:58 pm)

        We’ve lived close to the Thistle stairway for 23 years now, so it has a special place in our heart, but it’s also popular due to its status as (last I heard) the second-longest stairway in the city. Its top section is really steep, so I’ll be interested to see if they’re planning to totally revamp it or just do some cosmetic work. I had tried pinging SDOT about it a couple months ago when the markings first appeared; no reply and it fell off my checklist, until I bumped into this survey a few days ago and put it in queue … TR

  • sc December 21, 2016 (3:46 pm)


    check out 

    An Up-And-Down Guide To City Neighborhoods
    By Jake & Cathy Jaramillo

    • newnative December 22, 2016 (7:23 am)

      This is an awesome book that can be used for families and with tourists!

  • Mr Smith Jay December 21, 2016 (5:10 pm)

    Leave it as is. Only fix rails. 

  • LarryB December 21, 2016 (6:22 pm)

    I just wish they’d consistently clear away the overgrown foliage. It can feel like a tunnel.

    • AMD December 21, 2016 (7:25 pm)

      Permanent resident goats?

  • Tim December 21, 2016 (7:17 pm)

    What do I want to see? A slide! 

    • dawsonct December 21, 2016 (10:03 pm)

      Thank you Tim, I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one here with a sense of fun!

    • WsEd December 21, 2016 (11:17 pm)

      With neon lights for nighttime safety

  • John Q Lincoln December 21, 2016 (8:56 pm)

    I run up those stairs 2-3 times per week.  Maybe paint the railing but leave the stairs alone.  Replace the bench that used to be at the top.

  • mary December 21, 2016 (9:37 pm)

      The stairs are a West Seattle treasure., leave them natural.

    We had a slide a few years back so if you want to dig out the bench , be my guest ! 

    Please don’t do much cutting to cause another slide.  If you must do something , the cement at the top is all chipped up.

  • High Stepper December 21, 2016 (10:38 pm)

    How about a couple of lights on the upper set?  They’re a little steep & sketchy in the dark.   I agree with railings and slide idea.

  • captainDave December 21, 2016 (10:42 pm)

    How about an escalator?

  • wetone December 22, 2016 (10:32 am)

    Stairway most likely will be replaced with new, as current design does not meet current Seattle and  ADA requirements. SDOT has replaced many stairways through out area and has many more in the plans. As some have mentioned many of these stairways are structurally fine. With a good pressure wash, handrail updates and cutting back vegetation would last a long time. But not Seattle’s way in so many cases. Much of the money many people thought would go to fix streets permanently from Proposition 1  Move Seattle levy  $930+ mil. gives Seattle budget to spend as they wish. Hopefully some money will go for permanent road and bridge fixes, not just patches. But have little faith with Mayor Patchwork and CC’s  spending and priority’s. It’s more about what gets them most votes in many cases. 

  • brian December 22, 2016 (11:23 am)

    Just as a heads up, the city posted similar signage near the pedestrian stairs on my block and said that construction would start in July. Never happened and never got any updates, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in their proposed timeline.     

    • WSB December 22, 2016 (11:41 am)

      Well, the only timeline is “2017.” Which stairway? They have renovated several in West Seattle recently.

  • Mary December 22, 2016 (7:38 pm)

    This stairway WAS NOT built in 1961, it was last updated in ’61 !

    Think of the neighboring homes that may not want lights shining in their windows at night. Just carry a flashlight.

    Less is more in this case. 


    • WSB December 22, 2016 (8:58 pm)

      Built in 1955, according to the Seattle Municipal Archives.

      • Mary December 23, 2016 (10:32 am)

        Then why did it have a WPA stamp in the concrete before the slide ?

        • Alan December 23, 2016 (11:57 am)

          In that archive 1955 photo, you can see a section is missing, which appears to have possibly been the wood that is cast aside. There are broken rails visible and overgrowth on the stairs suggesting they had been there for a while. I think those construction pictures may have just been repairs. It has been a long time since I walked them and do not recall if there is still a section with those little steps, though they look familiar.

          • WSB December 23, 2016 (12:40 pm)

            I have searched the city databases high and low looking for more info. Will try to reach a live person next week.

      • Mary December 23, 2016 (11:53 am)

        Thank You WSB so much for the heads-up and this beautiful picture of the stairs.

        As you can see we love them as is.


    • dawsonct December 23, 2016 (12:34 pm)

      There are new styles of lighting that shine only on the objects intended to be illuminated, reducing light pollution. Get with the times.

  • Greg Funk December 27, 2016 (7:54 am)

    Good Morning!! The stairs will be updated so there will be more consistent run rise and upgraded rail on both sides. The alignment of the stairs will be the same, and at this time there is no budget for lighting upgrades. 

    Little history lesson. The stairway is constructed of concrete slabs that used to be the base for the old street car and the  R/R tracks were cut up into sections for the rail posts and painted white. The slabs are stacked on top of each other with  a brick spacer to give a roughly 6-7 inch rise.

     SDOT Roadway Structure are also looking at preserving some of the old staircases. The stairway at SW Thistle is a high volume stairway, and that’s why it has been on our list. The lower section we are looking at some different options as the right of way is very narrow and would be difficult to build.

    Please feel free to contact me I I’m the Project Manager for the stairway program.


    Greg Funk

    Project Manager & Structural Inspector,
    Roadway Structure

    City of Seattle Department of Transportation

    O: 206.733.9657 | M: 206.790.1355 | F:
    206.615.0798 |




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