This street begins at an interchange with Roosevelt Way NE, Eastlake Avenue NE, and 9th Avenue NE at the north end of the University Bridge and runs ¼ mile east to 15th Avenue NE, in front of the Henry Art Gallery of the University of Washington. It was created pursuant to a state law — Chapter 27, Laws of 1945, “Maintenance of approaches to higher educational institutions” — which read in part that:
The Director of Highways is hereby authorized and directed to select and locate a suitable and fitting street and highway approach to the University of Washington campus in the City of Seattle, from Roosevelt Way to Fifteenth Avenue northeast, including an underpass beneath the surface of Roosevelt Way, and necessary approaches to said underpass.
(A separate section appears to have been responsible for the creation of Stadium Way in Pullman as an approach to Washington State University.) A Seattle ordinance passed the same year committed the city to build and maintain the road, as required by the law, and NE Campus Parkway opened in 1950 — HistoryLink refers to it as a “long-proposed ceremonial gateway to the University.” In 1954, the roadway was deeded to the city.
In 1925 Bebb and Gould proposed a revision to their earlier Regents Plan of 1915, which included a formal boulevard that extended from the University to the west to serve as a principal entry to the campus from the city. Campus Parkway, the formal axis envisioned in the Regents Plan to the west, was constructed finally in the 1940s. It extended the University campus into its surrounding city neighborhood in a monumental and somewhat strident manner. Construction in the 1970s of an underground parking garage, below the Central Quadrangle [actually the Central Plaza, or Red Square], provided a primary vehicle entry south of Denny Hall, and reduced vehicular traffic along the campus ring road.
Traffic to and from lower campus and the lower University District via the University Bridge does necessarily take NE Campus Parkway, but it hardly functions as a gateway, ceremonial or otherwise. The entrance to the above-mentioned parking garage is at NE 41st Street, a block to the north; the west entrance to campus is a block to the south at NE 40th Street, which turns into W Stevens Way NE. One must take a narrow pedestrian bridge over 15th Avenue NE to walk from the parkway onto campus. The pedestrian-only southeast entrance at Rainier Vista and the north entrance at 17th Avenue NE, which turns into Memorial Way NE, fulfill the function far better.
Not even the UW Visitor Center is on NE Campus Parkway, having moved to Odegaard Library a number of years ago. Schmitz Hall, one of the university’s main administrative buildings, remains, between University Way NE and 15th Avenue NE, and with it the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of the University Registrar — and the university’s “generic address for forms,” 1410 NE Campus Parkway.
(An aside — NE Campus Parkway was once home to the International Friendship Grove of Trees [see articles by Arthur Lee Jacobson and Dick Falkenbury] but many of the trees have since died or been removed.)