Jimi Hendrix acolytes finally have a new altar at which to worship. The long-gestating Jimi Hendrix Park finally opened in Seattle’s Central District on Saturday, just minutes away from the home where the prolific guitarist was raised.
A handful of nods to Hendrix can be found within the 2.5-acre park, starting with a massive version of his signature scrawled in purple at the park’s entrance. Lyrics from two of his most enduring songs, “Angel” and “Little Wing,” are “etched along the walkway’s edge” and form a purple ribbon, the New York Times reports.
Other Hendrix homages are less overt. For instance, the park’s Cedar saplings were specifically planted as a tribute to Hendrix’s Cherokee heritage, while one sidewalk resembles a guitar from a bird’s eye view.
Even the park’s genesis has striking parallels to the singer’s own career, said Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix, who formed the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation in 2009.
The park’s creation was slowed by infighting and funding issues, which Hendrix compared to her brother’s own plight. “It happened to Jimi and his music,” she said during the park’s opening ceremony. “They made him pick a genre of music so he could be played on a certain radio station.”
In 2014, Hendrix explained why the park ranks at the top of the list of landmarks devoted to her brother.
“Seattle will always be Jimi’s home,” she told Rolling Stone in 2014. “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.”
Jimi Hendrix Park now joins Elvis’ Graceland and Prince’s Paisley Park in the pantheon of sacred grounds devoted to this country’s foremost music legends. The main difference is that Jimi Hendrix Park won’t cost fans a dime to visit. While Graceland and Paisley Park offer guided tours and sell merchandise (guests can buy deep-fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich for $3.99 at Graceland), Jimi Hendrix park is open to the public free of charge.
Eschewing the trappings of a major tourist destination in favor of something far more democratic feels like the right choice for an artist like Hendrix, whose career was personified by his anti-establishment values. Somewhere, the guitar god is smiling.