Walking through the Capitol Hill district of Seattle, you may begin to hear the strange, yet familiar, sound of “wakka wakka wakka wakka” as rows of yellow dots appear beneath you. You will soon realize that you have entered Pac Man Park, a painted blacktop bringing the classic arcade game to life.
A small section of Summit Avenue had been under-utilized for years, sandwiched between two major roads that made it often vacant and redundant. At the same time, the Capitol Hill neighborhood that surrounded the road was struggling economically and needed some public art to give it a boost.
Finally, the city put two and two together and capitalized on the perfect opportunity: to turn the empty road into a lively public gathering space. The local government put together a neighborhood referendum to vote on the future of the plaza, and out of nine options, Pac Man was chosen. The city’s Pavement to Parks program provided the necessary funding—no copyright payments were required, as the art project qualified as fair use—and voila, Pac Man Park was born.
At 2,600 square feet, Pac Man Park forms an entire Pac Man arena, complete with four ghosts, lots of yellow pellets, and Pac Man himself on a mission to win. Since the design is life sized, it’s possible to walk through the pathways yourself, like the Pac Man version of Pokémon Go.
Unfortunately, if you walk through the edge of the arena, you probably won’t teleport to the other side. But who knows, maybe that will be Pac Man Park’s next addition.