Green Lake is a freshwater lake that is located in north central Seattle within the Green Lake Park. The Green Lake neighborhood district to the north and the east surrounds this park. The Wallingford neighborhood lies to the south and the Phinney Ridge district is found to the west. Green Lake is one of Seattle's most beloved and well-known parks. Its expanse of water and green space in the center of a dense urban neighborhood draws thousands of people daily from all over the city. When the weather is sunny and warm - a rarity in Seattle - the park is flooded with locals.
Geologists say the Vashon Glacial Ice Sheet, which also formed Puget Sound and other area lakes, formed Green Lake some 50,000 years ago. Dredging of Green Lake has produced volcanic ash from an eruption of Glacier Peak that occurred about 6,700 years ago.
The actual lake was included in the Olmsted Brothers' comprehensive parks plan, and was given to the City by the State of Washington in 1905. Green Lake underwent a series of changes over the preceding fifteen years - it was dredged and filled until it shrunk by nearly 100 acres! The last fill deposited in Green Lake was from the excavation of Aurora Avenue.
In more recent times, Green Lake suffered from stagnation and pollution problems, as well as algae blooms. Milfoil and swimmers itch (caused by parasites from waterfowl) are still a consideration for those who swim in the lake to this day and swimming is not recommended.
The reconstructed 2.8-mile path around the lake provides a perfect recreational spot for runners, bikers, skaters and walkers. The path includes a 5 1/2 feet crushed granite trail closest to the lake for walkers and joggers, and a 13 1/2 foot asphalt path for wheeled users and walkers. Many other park visitors use the athletic fields or frequent the park for boating, picnics and swimming.
The park serves as a natural preserve for hundreds of species of trees and plants, as well as numerous birds and waterfowl. As a beacon for wildlife, Green Lake attracts various species of ducks, cormorants, loons, geese, turtles, rats, squirrels, raccoons, bats, eagles, and herons to name a few. There is an artificial island in the lake that was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936. The island was constructed as a wildlife sanctuary and later housed a family of swan that was given to the city by Vancouver, British Columbia.
Many species of fish also call Green Lake home. Rainbow trout are stocked for recreational fishing and there is a large population of common carp are present, and can be seen spawning in the shallows in spring. Tiger Musky fish were once stocked to control the carp population. The lake also contains largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, yellow bullhead, channel catfish, and small populations of many different unexpected species. Green Lake is a popular fishing destination for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the state.