If you’re looking for a nice place to enjoy Seattle’s atmosphere, Gas Works Park is a pretty good spot to do that. It’s a popular park that boasts a vibrant view of Lake Union and Seattle’s skyline. But more than that, it has a fascinating backstory and is a historically significant site with roots dating back to the early 1900s.
Gas Works Park is a 20-acre park that’s located where Seattle Gas Light Company opened in 1906. The company became the city’s main source of power until hydro-electric power began taking over in the 1930s. For the first 31 years, the plant converted coal into a manufactured gas; In 1937, it was modified to convert oil. By the end of 1956, the year that natural gas became available in Seattle for the first time, the facility closed down.
In 1962, the City of Seattle bought the property. Fourteen years later, Gas Works Park was opened to the public. In January 2013, Gas Works Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. More details on other highlights in the timeline can be found here.
It didn’t take long for Gas Works Park, given the atmosphere at the park and the incredible history behind it, to become one of my favorite places in Seattle. There are an estimated 450,000+ brownfields in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Brownfields are properties that, if reused, redeveloped or expanded, could be complicated because of hazardous substances. Brownfields can include abandoned factories, unused railroad tracks. The site of Gas Works Park could have been one of them: the park was temporarily closed in 1984 based on the recommendation of the EPA. The following year, a foot of clean soil was used to cover the most contaminated places in the park.
But today, Gas Works Park remains open. And you have to give credit to everyone involved in converting this site into a park that both locals and visitors get to enjoy. It’s a beautiful space with asphalt pathways to walk on and lots of green grass to sit on, where you can spend hours watching people sailing yachts across Lake Union and kids running around, and indulging with other people who are just sitting there looking at the lake and skyline.
You can also see some old machinery dispersed throughout the park, which gives it a unique feel and appearance.
But one thing I thought was particularly creative was the conversion of a former exhauster-compressor building into a play barn of colorful machinery for kids.
I completely fell in love with Gas Works Park. Thick clouds blanketed the sky when I went, so it was a bit of a gloomy day with a silver Lake Union rather than a bright blue one that I’ve seen in photos. But that didn’t detract from my experience there. It would be one of the first places I return to if I ever find myself in Seattle in the future.
Gas Works Park is located at:
2101 N Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98103
For more information on Gas Works Park, click here.