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Seattle’s Highway 520 “ramps to nowhere” to become a local park

Seattle’s “ramps to nowhere,” which were partially demolished during WSDOT’s current Montlake project, were the result of 1963 protests — sometimes referred to as the Freeway Revolts — over the construction of a freeway that would have split the Central District in half.

Montlake's ghost ramps sit idly by above a pool of water.

The “Ramps to Nowhere” were once used as risky diving boards by locals.

Photo by Nikky Southerland

Ready for a ghost story? It’s not very spooky, but it does lead to us getting a new park in the Montlake neighborhood.

Seattle’s famous “ramps to nowhere” have been mostly demolished while the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) makes improvements to the SR 520 on-ramps, but a portion of them will soon become a signifier of the “Freeway Revolts” that led to their ghostly creation.

Back in 1963, the city was building a freeway to connect Highway 520 to the R. H. Thomson Expressway. However, the plans for the road would have significantly segmented the Central District. So, a segment of the Black Panther coalition, UW students, and local architects protested and successfully stopped the project, leaving the already built ramps to sit alone for decades.

But now, the city plans to turn the area into a park sometime in the 2030s dedicated to the Freeway Revolts.