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Walawála Plaza is Now Open!

On May 5th of 2023, downtown Walla Walla became an even more charming destination with the opening of Walawála Plaza.

The backstory of Walawála Plaza

The 1st Avenue Plaza was created in the summer of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The street between 1st and Alder was closed and converted to a temporary public plaza, becoming a safe community gathering place throughout the changing restrictions to combat the pandemic. The City of Walla Walla responded to overwhelming support of the plaza by working to create it as a permanent public gathering space.

Walawála Plaza Today

Walawála Plaza is officially open, and features a beautiful concrete fountain at each end of the plaza, beautiful trees, and restored parking at the south end (to downtown business owner and visitor delight!). There is outdoor seating as well as a stage that will be the home of live music throughout the summer presented by the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

The benefits of this new installment are many. The delightful gathering place doubles as expanded seating for restaurants and coffee shops adjacent to the Plaza, including Coffee Perk, Wiener & Bun, Yamas Greek Eatery, and Sweet Basil Pizzeria. It’s a gorgeous spot to set up a remote office for the morning, with the sounds of the water feature producing a soothing backdrop to focused work. Need a change of scenery? Have your team meeting outside in Walawála Plaza, where you can enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and the kismet of bumping into your neighbors, mentors, and peers. Oh, and the expanded parking is great for Walla Walla too.

A key aspect of the Walawála Plaza is the culture and history represented in its name and design. The City of Walla Walla worked with Tamástslikt Cultural Institute to create elements representative of the historic gathering location of the Cayuse and Walla Walla people. Curved stamped concrete reflects Mill Creek and that 1st Avenue was a trail crossing and gathering place of the Cayuse and Walla Walla people. Inlaid bronze into stamped concrete and planted in the planter areas represents the Pàšxa, or Balsamroot Sunflower, that was prevalent in the valley and that was the namesake of the local Cayuse band known as “sunflower people”.

And then, there is the name of the plaza itself: Walawála Plaza. Walawála means "many small streams" in the indigenous Sahaptin language. The water features anchoring both ends of the plaza represent the "many small streams" within the city.

What does Walawála Plaza mean for local business?

If your business isn’t located downtown in Walla Walla, that doesn’t mean this new installment doesn’t benefit you. Take advantage of Walawála Plaza for its intended purpose as a community gathering place! Have your lunch break downtown, order a slice or two from Sweet Basil, and dine al fresco in Walawála Plaza. Schedule your next work meeting or new employee interview in Walawála Plaza as a refreshing change of scene. Take a team field trip to Walawála Plaza and point out the cultural and historic elements on display throughout.

And thank city leadership for their investment in community and business success. Walawála Plaza is a shining example of the positive changes that can happen when we gather together to solve problems and create new experiences.