An Industrial Past Adds Modern Whimsy to this Popular Park
Rising above the verdant lawn, in the center of an open park lies what many would say an eyesore, 2 large brown cylindrical towers, scarred with graffiti and surrounded by a barbed wired fence. These defunct gas generator and processing towers by most urban planning standards would have been removed as soon as the plant shut down and the city bought the space to use as a park. Most city parks I’ve seen try their very best to conceal the visitor of any urban plights it may have once faced. In fact, many cities strive to provide greenery, vegetation and perhaps contrived settings to ensure we forget about the industrial past. Well, not Seattle. Gas Works Park, on the South end of the Wallingford neighborhood is a stark reminder of Seattle’s history, yet it’s a thriving, popular park with unique play areas, waterfront access to Lake Union and views of Seattle’s skyline that rival the best in the city.
So, is Gas Work Park truly an urban blunder, or one of the finest examples of an old industrial space recycled into a recreational play land? I’d definitely say the latter. Being blessed with sunny, warm weather on all my visits to this park may have tainted my view slightly, but I don’t think completely. In fact, I’d imagine a cloudy day may add a fitting moodiness to the place that would be brilliant in photos.
And it’s not just me who has praised this city park. Many articles have been written about it, and it’s designer, Richard Haag won the American Society of Landscape Architects Presidents Award of Design Excellence for the project. It was even added to the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year in January of 2013.
Perhaps it’s well liked for being so photogenic. Shooting pictures of the defunct machinery provides quite a contrast with the surrounding views. There are plenty of abstract shapes and shadows to be found as well. Another popular aspect to this park is the play barn or old pump and boiler house with much machinery remaining. It’s an unique area to explore and play hide and seek. There is also a man-made hill formed from old rubble from the gas plant. The hill is now covered in grass and has an artistic sundial on top. On the day we visited, this hill was packed with kite flyers, and dotted with folks on a picnic while the kids were off exploring the industrial structures.
If you are looking for an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Gas Works Park should definitely be on your list. It’s uniqueness of celebrating the industrial past of Seattle and capitalizing on the stellar view of Seattle’s skyline must not be missed.
Gas Works Park – 2101 N. Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103