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CHS Pics | A visit to First Hill’s overhauled park and the neighborhood’s new bronze bear cubs

Earlier this week, CHS reported on the small steps including clean-ups and new lighting beginning a process of increased community involvement in improving Cal Anderson Park.

Another area park recently completed a different sort of community process. Some five years after the first public meetings to talk about hopes and plans for the project, the overhauled First Hill Park at University and Minor is again open after months of closure and COVID-delayed construction.

Using $500,000 in funding initially earmarked for finding space for a new park in the area and another $500,000 from the Swedish Medical Center expansion public benefits package, the Seattle Parks overhaul reshaped the 0.2-acre city park adjacent Stimson-Green Mansion including improving access, removing ailing trees, and adding a new piece of First Hill public art — a depiction of the bear cubs kept as pets by the Stimson family until they outgrew the mansion and were moved to Woodland Park Zoo.

The work from artists Georgia and Randy Gerber includes a Wingback Chair, Ottoman with Bear Cub, and a separate Standing Bear Cub, each cast in Everdure Bronze with a wall thickness of approximately 3/16” to 1/4”. “Rain and sun will wear down the wax and cloud the patina over time,” the Gerbers say. And wear from hands big and small will also appear over time.

“It is expected that there will be areas that become highlighted due to interaction with the public,” they write. “It is the artist’s view that this is an enhancement to the sculpture and not to be considered problematic.”

The bears join a menagerie of Gerber works around the region including Rachel the pig in Pike Place Market.

While the budget reallocation to overhaul the 43-year-old First Hill Park will likely mean no new public park space will be created in the neighborhood, officials pointed to “other public open space” being developed on First Hill “through other projects, including, for example, approximately 10,000 square feet of new open space included in the new private development at 8th and Columbia.”

The city has also experimented with its “pavement to parks” program to create new public spaces in the densely populated neighborhood.

The project goal at First Hill Park, meanwhile, was to make the park a “vibrant, welcoming, and safe open space in our neighborhood where people of all ages and abilities can relax and play and which increases public safety, contributes to neighborhood wellness and connectivity, and builds community.”

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2 months ago

Have visited the new park multiple times now with our puppy. Already seeing people of all ages enjoying the space. The bears and chair are a hit.