Backstory: How the Gas Works Became a Seattle Park Landmark

An abandoned structure at a Seattle park was once a beacon of progress
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
  • The Gas Works plant at Seattle's Gas Works Park

This article appears in print in the August 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

The Landmark. The Gas Works at Gas Works Park
The Location. Wallingford, 2101 N Northlake Way

The Backstory. Most Seattleites are familiar with the iconic industrial remnants that give Gas Works Park its name. But did you know that the structures we see today, perched on the north end of Lake Union, were part of an operation that literally fueled the city in the 19th century? For 50 years, the Seattle Gas Light Company used the 19-acre property for a coal gasification plant, superheating coal in sealed ovens to meet the city’s energy demands. The gas was first used to light the city’s streetlamps and then households, and later was used to fuel cooking stoves and eventually for heating. This gas manufacturing process became noticeably toxic to surrounding soil, water and air, resulting in the plant’s closure in 1956. Eventually, landscape architect Richard Haag transformed the property; it opened as a public park in 1975. While most of the toxic waste underwent bioremediation, some of it was consolidated and capped with clay and soil, creating Kite Hill, another beloved feature of the park today.

Related Content

A new book from a local Instagram cartoonist finds adventure in a neighborhood stroll

It resembles an earth-bound backyard with trees and grass but this deck at Nexus is sky high.

Condominiums are aiming to be all-in-one vertical neighborhoods, with top-to-bottom amenities and socializing ops—and apps

Waterfall Garden Park in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington

This hidden pocket park is an ode to the origins of a parcel delivery service

Cast your ballot for the best of the best in Seattle