Undersea Gardens Goes Underground

May 30th, 2008 @ 1:50 am by Cliffe | Sorted Past Post |
I must admit, I need some help on this one. A quick Google search of “Undersea Gardens Seattle” brings up… nothing. Anyone reading know whatever became of Undersea Gardens
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? When was it opened, when did it close and why
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? Ever been ther
and penis growth
e? The idea of an undersea look at Puget Sound is interesting, though I wonder if all you’d see today is Christmas fruitcake and oil. Scope these undated postcards out — showing Undersea Gardens in its heyday (whenever that was).
Undersea Gardens. 7041 Seaview Ave., N.W., Seattle, Wash. Located at the Shilshole Bay Marina (near the hundreds of varieties of marine life in their native Puget Sound waters. Visitors see the undersea life by descending below water level in this floating, air-conditioned $250,000 structure — the first of its kind in the U.S. The viewing room has 112 large windows. Divers bring interesting specimens to viewing windows at regular intervals.
Undersea Gardens. 7041 Seaview Ave., N.W., Seattle, Wash. Located at the Shilshole Bay Marina (near the hundreds of varieties of marine life in their native Puget Sound waters. Visitors see the undersea life by descending below water level in this floating, air-conditioned $250,000 structure — the first of its kind in the U.S. The viewing room has 112 large windows. Divers bring interesting specimens to viewing windows at regular intervals.

24 Responses to “Undersea Gardens Goes Underground”

  1. Joel says:

    I do remember it! It was a great place. We lived on Sunset Hill, and we went there as a family a lot. Of course, as a child, it was so fascinating to see the divers swimming with and handling the octopus. As I recall, it was just North of where the Windjammer (or whatever it’s called now!) building is . I think at was moved, initially (I don’t recall to where) to build the J pier maybe? I don’t know when it opened, but it must have been gone by the late 60s or so.

    I have looked online for references to it as well. That postcard is great!

  2. Chris says:

    don’t remember it being moved. I do remember it was replaced by a new building–elks or yacht club in the late 60′s or early 70′s.

  3. Jeanne says:

    I grew up in Ballard in the 1960s and 1970s. My family went to the Undersea Gardens at least once but I really don’t remember much of it so it must have been gone by 1970. I have a vague memory of green murky aquarium water. (Maybe I was an octopus in a past life.) Did Ivar’s on the waterfront have some sort of aquarium then too?

    We spent much more time at the Woodland Park Zoo (which was free then).

  4. Jeanne says:

    According to this link, the Undersea Gardens were built in Seattle in 1966 and later towed to Newport, Oregon. (Scroll down to the last few paragraphs.) I’m not sure if this is exactly the same building.


  5. mike says:

    There’s also the Victoria version, which must be a different building.


    I have no idea of the dates. I have a very vague childhood memory of the physical structure in the postcard, but my family didn’t live in Seattle – we would occasionally visit with my grandparents from Yakima on our way in or out of the country. I was born in 1966 and my first memories are from 1967, and we spent 18 months in South America in 1968 and 1969, so it’s not implausible we visited Seattle with the extended family before 1970.

  6. Heather says:

    When in doubt ask a librarian According to the Seattle Public Library’s Northwest Index. The Undersea Gardens opened in June of 1965 and closed in April of 1969. There is a wonderful Seattle Times article with the headline “3,000 Fish Swim to Liberty from Undersea Garden” dated 14 April 1969. According to the article, one of the windows in the aquarium portion of the hull shattered during the night and all but 30 fish swam away. Since the Gardens was due to close in a week anyway they just shut down early. The Gardens were slated to be barged to Eureka CA the 3rd week in April. Our files are silent on the present where abouts of the Gardens.

  7. Mary Reichelt says:

    Try this website – it has a couple of pictures and a little bit of history. I remember the structure but don’t think I ever went in it.


  8. John Methot says:

    Yes, the article Jeanne linked to is describing the same building. I remember newspaper and TV news accounts when it was towed away, and my memory is that it went to a town on the Oregon Coast. I have a vague recollection of the Aquamaids uniforms mentioned in the article as well. I would have been about 7 years old when my family visited Undersea Gardens in Seattle.

    Here’s the current web site of Oregon Undersea Gardens:


  9. chris says:

    Title: Undersea Gardens aquarium at Shilshole Bay Marina, Seattle, 1965
    Photographer: Davis, Harvey
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Date: 1965

  10. Chris B says:

    I have an original Vintage Travel Decal from Lindgren-Turner…the kind you dip in water and put on your travel trailer. They were sold in the souvenir shops and could be had for 10 cents or so, back in the 1950′s and 60′s. It shows a diver playing with an octopus. Incredible, vibrant graphics in Mint condition. If given a place to post please let me know.

  11. Gary Schad says:

    I grew up in Ballard and often ask people if they remember this and very few people do even though it was a mainstay of the Shilshole area. I am not sure but it seems to me prior to moving( if that is what happened) the glass was broke by a log during a storm closing the facility if anyone can confirm this that would be great. Please reply with any info you can find as this is a legendary part of Ballard history.

  12. Gary Schad says:

    Here is more information I have found on the Undersea Gardens see page 11

  13. garry says:

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  14. Jacob says:

    Along with the Newport, Seattle, and Victoria locations, there was also one in Santa Barbara, CA, which closed in 1969 (incidentally same year as Seattle) due to the Union 76 pipeline blowout. I’m not sure when this one was built, though it looks a bit less sophisticated than some of the other structures, and I have found a postcard of it for sale online, dated “circa 1950″ by the seller. It is possible that all four locations were once under common control – the Newport and Victoria facilities are both currently owned by the Oak Bay Marine Group. (http://www.obmg.com/) I have also gone to some lengths to find out what happened to the structure itself , but haven’t found much, either – it may have been towed, like the one in Seattle, but where to? Were they scrapped? refitted? left idle?

  15. Claire May says:

    I lived on Sunset Hill for one year, 1971-1972, and there was no sign of an aquarium. The waterfront on
    Seaview Avenue was dominated by the Shilshole Bay Marina and Port of Seattle Authority building. Across the street the uphill view was Golden Gardens Park with its firs, giant ferns, and timber-staired winding footpath. The three thousand boatslips rented for two dollars per foot, with a one-year waiting list.

  16. Richard Hocking says:

    I loved Undersea Gardens at Shilshole as a teenager. It was the closest aquarium experience to diving before or since and I have worked in public aquariums over 30 years. Even though the penned area where the fish and inverts lived was only 10 or 15 feet deep, as one of you wrote, it was pretty dark most of the time due to silt and plankton in the water. Not bad for closeup photos though as I remember. The mood alone of descending down the steps into the damp viewing room with condensation flowing down the walls and windows is rarely achieved in the modern carpeted and climate-controlled “salons” we call aquariums. With modern technology this should be the future of aquariums – offshore submerged structures with wild, not captive animals in view. Great Stuff!
    I remember the pseudo-replica of the HMS Bounty came to Seattle and was tied to the pier in that general area around 1962 but someone wrote that Undersea Gardens opened in 1965.
    By all means go down to Newport, Oregon and visit that one and have some cooked Dungeness crab next door on the waterfront. Can’t be beat…

  17. John says:

    I loved that place as a kid! Often wondered what happened to it. It seemed so magical at the time (of course I was only 5 or 6 years old).

  18. Tiffany says:

    Undersea Gardens was moved near where the Duck Tour Starts down by the marina. And no, the gardens that was in Seattle was not moved to Newport/Depot Bay. That is a different Undersea Gardens.

  19. Frank Haney says:

    The Undersea Gardens at Golden Gardens was in operation in the 50′s and 60′s.
    I grew up in Seattle and visited the Undersea Gardens more than once. It was more than three times the size of Newport and twice the size of Victorias,
    Some rogue eco terrists with SCUBA gear smashed the large underwater windows from the ouside of the facility. This allowed ALL of the fish and sea life to escape out into puget sound. Both Native and none Native species.
    Seattle Than built the facility at the end of pier 56. This became home to Namu the Killer Whale in 1966. The current facility is located at pier 59.

  20. Greg May says:

    Undersea Gardens was a unique concept in aquaria. The floating observatory was surrounded by a “moat” in which the outer wall was of acylic enabling you to see the fish swimming against their natural habitat. Because the water the fish were in was filtered and clearer than the harbor water, the acrylic panels disappeared creating the appearance that you were observing the specimens in their natural habitat.

  21. Greg May says:

    Now wish me luck as I prepare to propose the same concept to Mr. Rene Hoffman of Orlando WaterSports Complex!

  22. Maggie Murphy says:

    My good friend from Ballard H.S., Mary G., worked there as a tour guide in about 1968. It was an impressive “aquarium” for the time and place!

  23. Laurie says:

    I remeber the under sea garden, But I could not remember where it was located, I was a small child then….great memories, and I remember going on field trips with school or Brownies….

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