Gas Works Park, ws, jogger (Photo: Helen Holter)

Gas Works Park, recycled

by Helen Holter


Gas Works was the first park  I visited when I moved to Seattle,

resting my bike as I watched boats float by on Opening Day, that boating season beginning when Seattle springs to life.

A quintessential Seattle memory…

Gas Works has morphed from a contaminated environmental scourge to the site of Seattle's Fourth of July festivities.

Gas Works has morphed from a contaminated environmental scourge to recently landing an honored spot on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo: Helen Holter, 2013)

In January 2013, Gas Works Park was added to the honored National Register of Historic Places. Talk about a miracle makeover!

What draws so many Seattleites to this recycled 20-acre knoll on the north shore of Lake Union? Picnics, playgrounds, city views and its stellar centerpiece: A pile of iron junk and smokestacks sitting on a graveyard of once-contaminated dirt and oil. Gas Works, whose plant heated Seattle homes until 1956, is the first industrial site in the world to be recycled into a public park. In a city that pioneered recycling — well, why not this, too?

Kids gravitate to the graffiti-splashed playbarn of pipes, cogs, and enginesrusty leftovers from the gas plant’s 1906 beginnings. Enthusiasts hike the 60-foot hill to fly kites , admire sweeping city views, or to see if that sundial really works. (It does.)
Gas Works Park, biker (Photo: Helen Holter)

Walkers, bikers, and joggers head for the hill–an itsy-bitsy 60-foot hill–with sweeping Seattle views. (Photo: Helen Holter, 2013)

Gas Works Park is the place to celebrate solstices, watch kayakers glide by, spread out picnic fixins’, or watch seaplanes take off and touch down on Lake Union.  Hordes of cyclists, runners, and walkers meet here, ready to hit  the Burke-Gilman Trail. Summer music drifts across Lake Union: peace concerts, impromptu drumming, piped-in patriotic tunes synchronized to bursts of fireworks on the Fourth of July.

A bit of history

Gas Works Park was originally named Myrtle Edwards Park, after the city councilwoman who worked hard to make the park a reality in 1975. After she died, however, relatives insisted that her name be removed; they felt the park was ugly, with its leftover smokestacks and pipes. (Myrtle Edwards’ name now graces another waterfront park.)Signature_80

Recommended: Gas Works Park web site.

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