Magnolia is a large, hilly, peninsular neighborhood in Seattle, Washington, connected to the rest of the city by only three bridges over the tracks of the BNSF Railway: W. Emerson Place in the north, W. Dravus Street in the center, and W. Garfield Street (the Magnolia Bridge) in the south. It has been a part of the city since 1891. A good portion of the peninsula is taken up by Discovery Park, formerly the U.S. Army's Fort Lawton.
Magnolia is bounded on the north by Salmon Bay and Shilshole Bay of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, across which is Ballard; on the west by Puget Sound and Elliott Bay; on the south by Elliott Bay and Smith Cove; and on the east by Thorndyke, 20th, and Gilman Avenues W., beyond which is Interbay.
Although magnolia trees do line W. McGraw Street in the neighborhood's commercial district, Magnolia's naming was actually a misnomer. While out at sea, Captain Vancouver saw the huge madrona trees atop the peninsula's southern bluffs but mistook them for magnolias and noted this the ship's log. Groups are actively working to save the remaining madronas on the bluff.
On Magnolia's south end is Magnolia Park, overlooking Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the city skyline. It features a picnic area and tennis courts across the street. Also in Magnolia are Smith Cove and its marina. Discovery Park, in the northwest, encompasses 534 acres and is Seattle's largest park. The park is home to eagles, herons, falcons, foxes, and beavers. Seven miles of trails provide visitors with a wilderness experience and views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Parts of Fort Lawton, such as the officer's homes and other historic buildings, remain in the park.
Adjacent to Discovery Park is West Point Lighthouse. It was built in 1881 and is the oldest lighthouse in the area. Walking trails descend from the park to two miles of beach and the lighthouse.
Another highlight is the local branch of the Seattle Public Library, designed in 1964 by architects Paul Hayden Kirk and Richard Haag, who won top awards for design from the American Library Association. In the children's section is a statue of a young girl titled "Girl Holding Doves," designed by Ebba Rapp McLauchlan. Outside hangs a bronze wall sculpture titled "Activity of Thought," an abstract piece of art designed especially for the library by Glenn Alps.
Magnolia's business district is home to many specialty stores and professional services, some of Seattle's top restaurants, and industrial and marine services.
Magnolia Audio Video, a regional electronics retailer now owned by Best Buy, was started in and named after the neighborhood.
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