The City of Seattle finally broke ground on the long-planned Jimi Hendrix Park, marking a two-and-a-half acre stretch of land adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle's Central District to honor its hometown guitar hero. The park's organizers, the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation, envision the park as being a place where people of different backgrounds will find the motivation to explore music and art, while celebrating Seattle's cultural heritage, experiencing community pride and appreciating the programming of the museum next door. The bulk of the construction will take place in 2015.
City officials, volunteers of the park committee and area residents were all present at the ceremony. At the groundbreaking, Scott Murase – the design principle of Murase Associates of Seattle, which will be working on the park's second phase – exclaimed, "Let the Experience begin!"
"Every project endorsed by our family which bears Jimi's name is meaningful to us, but this park holds special significance," the rock legend's sister, Janie Hendrix – who is also the president and CEO of Experience Hendrix, LLC – commented. "Seattle will always be Jimi's home. This very area is where Jimi grew up, where his dreams were cultivated and his creative energy awakened, in many ways. So to see this amazing place of beauty, dedicated to Jimi and his artistry, blossom into reality is indescribably fulfilling. Having been involved in each facet of the park's creation, I can honestly say that this musical garden is a fitting representation of Jimi's imagination. It is truly inspired."
The park's evolution is being split into two phases: The Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation has named the first "Little Wing," after the singer's 1967 song, and will include the construction of an entrance and stairway at the park's southeast corner, as well as paved pathways, a timeline of Hendrix's life and a butterfly garden, among other features. The second phase, which is currently unnamed and now the subject of a fundraising campaign, will include a central shelter, performance space and a "shadow wave wall," which will cast silhouette images of the guitarist.
When the foundation announced the park's concept in December 2011, it was initially supposed to open in November of the following year to coincide with what would have been Hendrix's 70th birthday. The foundation, along with the group Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park, raised more than $1 million in addition to the $500,000 that it received from the Seattle Parks and Green Levy Opportunity Fund Grant.
Earlier this year, the United States Postal Service honored Hendrix's cultural importance by releasing a Forever stamp sporting his visage. A rep for the USPS told Rolling Stone that the stamp had been in the works for nearly three years. "He's definitely one of our American icons, so I definitely hope the fans feel the same way about the stamp," Janie Hendrix said at the time. "It's an honor to put that stamp on any letter or card that you send, and it's just a constant reminder of who he was and who he continues to be in our lives."