S Henderson Stairway

Updated: April 17, 2023

 This project is complete!

The S Henderson Stairway Project has officially been completed! After several years of planning, design, and construction, the stairway is now open to the public and serves as a vital connector for the community.

The project began back in 2018, with the goal of creating a new stairway between 39th Ave S and 41st Ave S. This area had been identified as a crucial point of connection between the South Beacon Hill neighborhood and the nearby Rainier Beach light rail station, local schools, and other amenities. The new stairway not only provides a more direct route to these locations but also reflects the city's commitment to advancing its Pedestrian Master Plan goals.

S Henderson Stairway Project photos

Photos from left to rigth: (1) At base of completed stairway (41st Ave S looking west); (2) At a mid-way stairway landing looking west; (3) View at top of new stairway and landscaping (39th Ave S looking east); (4) Crews installed new drainage improvements at 39th Ave S. SDOT Photos

Let's take a look at S Henderson Stairway Project's impressive numbers!

  • The new stairway spans 440ft with an elevation gain of approximately 114ft.
  • 108 steel piles (20ft long) were driven into the ground for the stairway foundation.
  • We installed 10 light poles that provide focused, pedestrian-scaled lighting and make the area safe to use at all times of the day.
  • This is our third longest set of stairs with 258 steps and 18 landings.
    • Our longest stairway is at SW Thistle Street with 360 steps and our second longest is E Howe Street with 279 steps.
  • This new stairway has our longest bike runnel to-date (we've installed about a half dozen bike runnels along our stairs so far).

The S Henderson Stairway is designed to clearly designate space for specific use and provides a new and unique way for residents to explore and engage with their community. Physical challenges, student-led events, and neighborhood walks are just a few examples of the many opportunities that this new stairway will bring to the community. Thank you again to all involved in bringing the S Henderson Stairway project to fruition, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on the community for years to come.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bike, put on your walking shoes, and head on over to the S Henderson Stairway to check it out for yourself!

Project Background

Beginning in 2018, we began the feasibility and planning process for a new stairway on S Henderson St between 39th Ave S and 41st Ave S (approx. 440 ft). The Henderson Stairway will better connect south Beacon Hill residents to the Rainier Beach light rail station, local schools and community amenities, while helping to advance the City's Pedestrian Master Plan goals.

This stairway is currently planned to include multiple landings to meet ADA requirements, lighting, and a runnel for people to walk their bikes up the stairway. The planned stairway, which has received several community requests, provides a direction connection to Rainier Beach Station from South Beacon Hill and reduces walking distance by approximately 0.5 miles.

Rendering of S Henderson stairway
Visualization of stairway upon completion

Project Benefits

  • Gain another neighborhood connector to schools, Sound Transit light rail, transit and businesses
  • Clearly designate the space for a specific use and reinforce the neighborhood identity through place making and wayfinding
  • Increase engagement opportunities through neighborhood walks, physical challenges, student-led events 
  • Walking improvements help make neighborhoods safer and more connected

Project Area

The new stairway will be located on S Henderson St between 39th Ave S and 41st Ave S.

Project Map for S Henderson Stairway

Top of stairway (39th Ave S)
Top of stairway - 39th Ave S

Bottom of stairway (41st Ave S)
Bottom of stairway - 41st Ave S


S Henderson Stairway Profile and Aerial Graphic

Examples of placemaking, wayfinding and programming around Seattle

Examples of placemaking around Seattle

Nearby Projects

Project Materials

Project Planning Notice, December 2018

Visualization of Stairway, June 2020

Online Drop-in Session Presentation, November 2020

Outreach Summary Report (from November 2020 Online Drop-in Session and Survey)


This project has received funding through a grant from Sound Transit.


2017 Project added to Pedestrian Master Plan
2018 Began feasibility study
Early 2019  Began planning and design, sent letter to area neighbors notifying of project initiation
Due to construction costs, SDOT seeks outside funding
Fall 2019 SDOT awarded Sound Transit System Access Fund grant
Late 2019 Conducted second round of outreach with letters to adjacent neighbors 
Summer 2020 Conducted geotech soil sample collection at three locations
Fall 2020 Online outreach drop-in session and online survey
Fall 2021 Final Design Milestone
June 2022 Construction begins



Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.