The Pike Street Hill Climb is made up of 163 stairs connecting Alaskan Way and 1st Avenue. Since its construction in 1977, the Hill Climb has served as a vital connection between the waterfront and Pike Place Market — 375 feet of steps surrounded by restaurants and bars, shops and vendors.

In 2016 Friends of Waterfront Seattle began leading an effort to improve the Hill Climb between Alaskan and Western Avenues, a vital link to the waterfront near Pier 62/63 and the Seattle Aquarium. The Hill Climb was redeveloped in the Pike Place Market between Western Avenue and 1st Street in 2010.

As we approach the rebuilding of Pier 62 — and the eventual demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct — we are transforming the Pike Street Hill Climb into a truly unique public space for tourists and residents alike. A connection between two iconic Seattle destinations that is iconic in its own right.

The base of the Pike Street Hill Climb before and after the Room for Change mural by Carolina Silva. Silva’s mural complements artist Nicole Kistler’s Outburst, created as part of the Office of the Waterfront’s Waterfront Exchange Art Program.

 

Last month, Friends of Waterfront Seattle partnered with Space.City, Urban ArtWorks, the Downtown Seattle Association, and artist Carolina Silva to create a mural on the Pike Street Hill Climb as part of the annual Seattle Design Festival. The mural, titled “Room for Change,” transforms graffiti-covered concrete walls into a vibrant space surrounded by a bright floral pattern.

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Celebrating the completion of Room for Change, photos by Dorothee Brand.

 

Artist Carolina Silva reflected on her first experience creating public art, “Something I didn’t anticipate was how important the community involvement would be working in a public site…As I got used to working ‘exposed’ to the public eye it became clear how meaningful the idea of transformation or change was and how crucial, it was to work openly and involve others.”

Work on the mural spanned a week, and Silva was joined by over 40 volunteers – including neighbors, Seattle Design Festival volunteers, tourists, and members of the homeless community – in its creation. According to Silva, the group effort was inspiring. “I have loved every minute painting the mural and the moments shared there with other people during the process,” she said. “I hope the love shows through it.”

Room for Change was officially unveiled on September 21, and its dusty pink florals will provide tourists and Seattle residents alike with a reminder that graffiti-covered concrete can be transformed into something beautiful with the help of the community. Already the beautification has reduced the incidence of graffiti.

The mural will also give travelers along the hike between Pike Place Market and Alaskan Way a glimpse of changes to come for the lower Pike Street Hill Climb, including new plantings in existing beds with a planting plan by Hill Climb business Land Morphology. And we look forward to the day the Hill Climb connects to the future waterfront beginning with the rebuilt Pier 62 in 2019.

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Check out the video about the transformation, and learn more about Carolina Silva and her work at her website.