At the wide spot in the road known as the "Admiral Viewpoint" on the sign, there is another small attraction here: a story pole. It is only 25 feet tall, but is reasonably impressive and carved from a western red cedar that was approximately 450 to 550 years old, and was cut down by tree poachers on the Olympic Peninsula.
A "Strory Pole" is more regionally correct than is a "Totem Pole", as the Coast Salish tribes would carve a story into the pole, which generally would be used as a structural member in the long houses that were typical of the area.
This is the third such carved pole to decorate teh Admiral Viewpoint. The first was a 1901 carving donated to the city in 1939, but by 1966 had aged to the point where it was severely decayed, and a replica was created. By 2006, this pole had too aged to the point where it had to be removed, and it is now on display in the Log House Museum. This new pole arrived on the scene that year.
The story starts at the bottom, with a welcoming figure that symbolizes the welcoming of the Duwamish people to the Denny Party and other early settlers of what is now Seattle. The sailing ship above the figure symbolizes the ship that carried those early settlers. The three faces above the ship symbolize the men, women, and children of the Duwamish Tribe. The seated figure at the top symbolizes Chief Sealth, and the wings above symbolize are an expression of the power of the chief.
Carver Michael Halady is a fifth-generation descendent of Chief Sealth, after whom the city of Seattle is named. His ancestors carved with beaver teeth and clam shells, but to create this carving Halady used crook knives and adzes. He views his works as an effort to preserve a part of the culture that was lost when the original inhabitants were run out of the area and their longhouses burned.
Some wise words from Chief Sealth, as quoted at the monument here:
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.
We may be brothers after all.
We shall see.
One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God,
You may think now that you own him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white.
This earth is precious to him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator...
Where is the thicket? Gone
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survivial.
Chief Sealth, 1854
Getting Here: See the Admiral Viewpoint tip
There are several parks in Seattle that are in unexpected locations, such as the middle of industrial areas. This park, owned by the Port of Seattle and located at the border between the Port of Seattle facilities and the West Seattle tourist beaches, is certainly one of those.
Open from 6 am to 9 pm, the park has a wonderful view of the Seattle skyline from its observation tower (parts of which are accessible by wheelchair, if you feel like climbing a very long ramp). There are also children's play areas, and pathways with a number of views of the port facilities.
Fishing is also possible from the parts of the park walkways that overhang the waters, but it appears that it isn't a popular place to do so.
On my first visit to the park I also saw a Belted Kingfisher perched on one of the Port of Seattle wires overhanging the water, so there is also some bird life that visits this park as well.
How to Get There: The entrance is on Harbor Drive, and the official address is 2130 Harbor Ave. S.W.. To get there from downtown Seattle, take highway 99 going south, and take the West Seattle Freeway going west on the bridge over the port facilities. Take the first exit and go north on Harbor Drive. The park entrance is on the right side of the road, after the port facilties and just south of Salty's Restaurant. The entrance gate to the park has what looks like a large steel fish skeleton above it, painted red. This is by far your best landmark for finding the park. The entrance is somewhat hidden, as there is not a great deal to indicate this is a park from either the north or south. I first found the park while trying to orient myself to Seattle and looking at a Google satellite map and photograph of the area. Otherwise, I would have had no idea that such a place existed, and it certainly doesn't appear on the current West Seattle tourist literature.
It is a quick walk from the King County Water Taxi, but the water taxi does not operate in winter. Bus route 37 has a stop very close to the entrance to the park, but that bus route does not operate frequently.
Heading towards the "Admiral District" of West Seattle on Admiral Way, there is a wide spot in the road that is intended for people to take a look over the railing and see the wonderful Seattle skyline from this location.
It seems to be a reasonably well known tourist location, but the vast majority of the tourists seem to stay down by the waterfront, which allows for a view that is about equal to what you get up here.
At least down below along the waterfront, there are several large parks that allow you to get away from the traffic noise. Here, there is little escaping the busy traffic on Admiral Way.
There is a little bit of a park within the curve of Admiral Way, but then the busy road is between you and the traffic!
One unique feature of the viewpoint is the Admiral Viewpoint Story Pole. There is also an interpretive sign giving a brief history of West Seattle and Alki Point, a description of the Admiral Viewpoint Totem Pole, and some wise words for Cheif Seattle.
There is also a view of Mount Rainier through the trees from the top end of the viewpoint, but it certainly isn't the best view of Mount Rainier available in the Seattle area.
If you have come here, you should also consider walking (not driving) three blocks west to the Admiral Way Bridge which also has a wonderful view of Seattle.
How to Get Here: West Seattle Freeway to Admiral Way at the exit ramp at the west end of the bridge. The viewpoint is just after the traffic light at Olga Street. Bus routes 56, 57, and 85 serve this location.
While the Admiral Way viewpoint gives a more complete view of downtown Seattle and the Cascades, the view from the bridge also provides a great view of the north part of downtown Seattle and the mountains.
Unlike the Admiral Way viewpoint, the view from here provides a deep wild canyon that gives a somewhat more wild impression of West Seattle - and by implication downtown Seattle as well.
Also unlike the Admiral Way viewpoint, the bridge has no indication on it that the view from here is anything special, and unless you happen to walk across it most likely you will miss the view from here.
The bridge consists of two sections: an old section and a new section. The north side is built entirely of concrete trusses and pilings, while the south side of the bridge is mostly steel construction.
The area under the bridge along Fairmount Avenue consists of partially preserved wild canyonlands, which is what adds to the photogenic nature of the view of downtown Seattle from here.
How to Get Here: West Seattle freeway to Admiral Way, just like you would get to the Admiral Way Viewpoint. Bus routes that come here include buses 56, 57, and 85 that go directly across the bridge.
On the tourist maps of West Seattle, you will find listed the "West Seattle Murals".
While they are interesting, I would not suggest coming all the way to West Seattle to specifically see these murals. It isn't as if these are spectacular attractions.
These are a series of scenes done in ceramic tiles in the sidewalks.