Gas Works Park is on the site of an old gasification plant that once powered much of Seattle from 1907 to the mid 1950's. It was said that nothing would ever grow on this ground again due to the hydrocarbon contaminates, soot and petro chemical waste polluting the soil. The park has proved otherwise and now offers a great venue for Seattle residents to enjoy the outdoors.
A massive soil cleaning effort was needed to create the park that now stands in its place. Portions of the original "Gas Works" remain, the largest remnant of the 1,400 such plants that existed in the US, and can be seen in the background. On the top of Gas Works hill is a giant 28 foot wide sundial created from concrete inlaid with cast bronze, shells, ceramics, art and other objects.
This 20 acre point on Lake Union was cleared in 1906 to construct a plant to manufacture gas from coal - later converted to crude oil. Import of natural gas in the 1950's made the plant obsolete. The city acquired the site for a park in 1962. The park was opened to the public in 1975. The boiler house has been converted to a picnic shelter with tables, fire grills and an open area. The former exhauster-compressor building, now a children's play barn, features a maze of brightly painted machinery.
Gas Works Park is a unique landmark for the City of Seattle. The original structures qualify as industrial archaeology and are the last remaining examples of a type of technology. These structures have been double served by Gas Works Park for not only have they been preserved but they have been integrated into an innovative, ground-breaking park design. The combination of a dramatic site and historic structures with the innovative park design has only increased the importance of Gas Works Park. The integrity of the original Gas Works is impressive. Although not all of the structures were saved, the character defining and prominent group of towers remains. The reuse of the pump house and boiler house has maintained building structure and much of the machinery. The site retains its original boundaries and lake frontage.
Gas Works Park is the work of its designer, Richard Haag, a prominent Seattle landscape architect. Haag is the only person to twice receive the American Society of Landscape Architects Award for design excellence, one of the awards given for his design of Gas Works Park. Haag has received international acclaim for his design of Gas Works Park.
Gas Works Park has a play area with a large play barn, and big hill popular for flying kites. Special park features include the sundial, and a beautiful view of Seattle. Burke-Gilman Trail runs past Gas Works parking lot and follows the Burlington-Northern Railroad 12.5 miles north to Kirkland Log Boom Park. There is a large parking lot 30 yards away with two handicapped parking spots.
Gas Works Park has been a setting for films, such asSinglesand10 Things I Hate About You. It has been featured twice on the travel-based television reality showThe Amazing Race-once as the finish line forSeason 3and another time as the starting line for Season 10.