Gas Works Park, just like the Seattle Space Needle, is one of those icons of Seattle that was saved from the wrecking ball, cutting torches, scrap pile, dynamite, junk yards and any other place where trash is put.
As settlers moved into the area where saw mills were set up along with fisheries, coal mines, ship building, tanneries, and iron works. Brick making also made a tremendous impact on the housing in early Seattle.
Because of settlers having difficulty in pronouncing the local Indian names, over the years names were changed to be simplified. Lake Union is one of those early names where Gas Works Park is located.
In 1900 the Seattle Gas Light Company purchased lots along the lake, eventually equaling some 20 acres. In 1906 it began operations. To locals the area was known as Edgewater.
Lake Union in the early 1900’s was considered to be the “heart” of the Seattle industrial area. Even with that taking place, the Olmsted Brothers in 1903 recommended an area to be set aside to become a local park because mainly, the views along with boating, was becoming more and more popular.
The Lake Station gas manufacturing plant was the largest in the area. It lit the city and surrounding areas. In 1937 it was changed over to oil.
Though for a time Gasco briquets , toluene, naphtha, sulfur and xylene were manufactured there, it all ended in 1956 when the city converted to natural gas.
In 1962, Seattle purchased the buildings and manufacturing structures of the now, abandoned gas works.
Clean Up Time
It was not until 1975 that the park was considered safe for the public. Much of the polluted earth was removed and disposed of. Some was “attacked” by using microbes to eat the sewage.
However, the “Great Mound” was created from thousands of yards of concrete rubble coming from the buildings foundations.
The Great Mound is now covered in beautiful topsoil with a sundial at its top, and is now known as “kite hill” because it’s always windy and perfect for kite flying.
Pictures of the Mind
Since the abandoned gas works were viewed as an eyesore, it took Richard Haag countless hours of trying to convince city officials to reconstruct the area into a park.
He finally succeeded when he began his “pictures of the mind” by showing officials and locals pictures of what many European countries did with war torn areas after WW II.
Convinced…city officials got the work started in earnest. Because of Haag, all parks in the Seattle area are influenced by the beauty of Gas Works Park and what can be done with and “eyesore.”
Today The Park IS …..
Gas Works Park today is considered to be unique in its own rights. In fact, it can be considered to be one of the only parks worldwide where ingenuity has given way to beauty.
Today it is enjoyed by quite literally, the entire city of Seattle and surrounding areas. Some things that go on there are walking paths, boats watching, seaplanes coming and going, Burke Gilman trail, kite flying, July 4th fireworks, the Great Sundial, tours of the refitted gas towers and much, much more.
Family events, weddings, joggers, bicycle rides, roller blades, skates, parachute thrills, Seattle skyline (and the Space Needle), loads of parking and picnic areas.
Why not stop in and see for yourself? Comment below and be sure to share this.
Written by: Tom McDaniel
Images by: richhaagassoc,kristyraschlandarch,fineartamerica,youtube,seattlemet,roattrippers,leyoung2
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