In 1974, the uniquely industrial looking Gas Works Park opens on the northern shore of Lake Union in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. The site had been a gas manufacturing plant from 1907 to 1956, and the park retains the five-story high cracking towers and other structures from the smoke-belching days of industrial use.
The park was designed by the architectural firm of Richard Haag, a professor in the Architecture and Planning Department at the University of Washington.
The City of Seattle obtained the site from Washington Natural Gas in the early 1960s. One idea for the site was to make it into an arboretum, but the area was discovered to be an ecological disaster after 50 years of unrestricted pollution. The soil was inorganic, extremely compacted, and severely chemically polluted. It could not support life.
Haag fell in love with the cracking towers and kept them as the focal point of his design and as a monument to the history of technology.
Don Sherwood, "History of Seattle Parks," typescript written between 1970 and 1980, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Libraries; Carolina Portela, "Seattle Parks and Playgrounds," typescript dated 1980, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.
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