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Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington

- Hye Sung

One of my favorite things about Seattle is the abundance of parks. There are literally dozens of parks, hundred of acres worth of them, in this city. My absolute favorite has to be Gas Works Park. These 19.1 acres of public park are located where the Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant was once located. In fact, some ruins from the plant are still present and even incorporated into the park. It’s history and their current innovations accommodating to their history’s remnants make it this park very quirky and bizarre,  and the Seattle Times called it “easily the strangest park in Seattle, and may rank among the strangest in the world.”

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Prior to the plant, there had been sawmills operating on the land, and later on the 19th century there was brick manufacturing, ship building, iron industry, and a tannery. In the early 1900s, the Seattle Gas Light Company purchased land and began operating their coal gas plant. Throughout the 20th century, the plant continued to expand, peaking at serving 43,198 customers in 1940.  Gas productions ceased in 1956.

Some features of the park are the play barn, picnic shelters, an artificial kite-flying hill, a sculptured sundial, preserved and transformed towers from the plant, and the “Earth Mound”, a hill built out of the rubble from the old plant.

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Though there were years of pollution on this piece of land, the park has been declared safe and clean. During the 70s, a “cleaning and greening” project on the park transformed the ecological state of Gas Works Park.

Fun fact: a scene from “10 Things I Hate About You” were shot at Gas Works Park. In fact, Gas Works Park is known for the number of shows and movies have been shot there, including “Singles” and the popular competition “The Amazing Race”.

Gas Works Park is huge, but often it is fairly full of families, couples picnicking, and in the summer there are constantly events and concerts. It has to be one of my favorite places because of how fun, silly, and uniquely beautiful it is.

 

 

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