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Gas Works Park Urban Park. Terence, Megan, Brian, Stephen. Gas Works’ Past. Lake Union’s industrial history Sawmills Coal Ship building Iron Railroad Seattle Gas Light Company (1900)

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Gas Works Park

Urban Park

Terence, Megan, Brian, Stephen

gas works past
Gas Works’ Past
  • Lake Union’s industrial history
    • Sawmills
    • Coal
    • Ship building
    • Iron
    • Railroad
  • Seattle Gas Light Company (1900)
    • 1906: Coal gas plant opens
bogue and industrial lake union
Bogue and Industrial Lake Union
  • Virgil Bogue
    • Civil engineer
      • Proposed “Bogue Plan”: Would have been Seattle’s first comprehensive plan
      • Argued that Lake Union should be an industrial area
        • Located in the heart of the city
  • The Olmstead Brothers
    • Landscape design firm
      • Recommended that the area should be used for a park
      • Nice views, boating, playground, etc.
  • Bogue Plan is rejected by voters
    • 1917: After canal and Ballard locks are open, Lake Union does indeed become very industrial and Bogue’s dream was still achieved.

Virgil Bogue

seattle gas company
Seattle Gas Company
  • Originally called the “Seattle Lighting Company”
    • Main product: illuminated gas used for lighting
      • Made from coal
      • Used for cooking, refrigeration, heating homes and water, etc.
    • Name changed to Seattle Gas Company in 1930

switch from coal to oil
Switch From Coal to Oil
  • 1937: Seattle Gas Company decides to manufacture their city gas from oil instead of coal
    • Too expensive to operate coal-to-gas generators
      • Took them apart, replaced with oil-to-gas generators

  • Storage tanks
  • Boiler house
  • Pump and compressors
  • Offices
  • Laboratories
  • Additional support

gas company s decline
Gas Company’s Decline
  • The plant’s number of customers decreased significantly from 1940-1954
    • Lost nearly 7,000 customers
  • Seattle started importing natural gas in the 1950’s
    • Seattle Gas Company’s plant begins to fail
      • Production of city gas is stopped in 1956

Transition of Seattle Gas Company to Gas Works Park


Important Dates

  • 1956 Last year for production at Seattle Gas Company
  • 1962 City of Seattle purchased the abandoned land and structures for $1,340,000
  • 1970 Park development begins
  • 1971 Park Board approved Richard Haag Associates’ Master plan to preserve the grounds and structures on them in the form of a park
  • 1972 Debt from purchasing the land is paid off
  • 1976 Gas Works Park (GWP) opens to the public

Acquisition and Designer of the Sight

  • The land and its structures were acquired with the help of Seattle Forward Thrust Bonds and help from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.).
  • Richard Haag designed the master plan for the park, and presented his ideas and plans to the Seattle Park Board for approval.
  • Richard Haag can is considered the most important individual in the transition of Seattle Gas company into a such a well know park that it is today. He noticed the value of the structures and the fact that they should and could be saved for future generations.

Richard Haag

  • Wanted to keep the structures on the sight of the future park for their aesthetic value.
  • His mindset was opposite from most during this time
  • He was awarded the President’s award for Design Excellence given by American Society of Landscape Architects (ALSA) in 1981 for his work on GWP

Unique Design of GWP

  • Much of the Rubble from the original building foundations at GWP was used to make the huge “Earth Mound”
  • The pump house was converted to a “Play Barn”
  • The boiler house was converted to a picnic area
  • The sight had been contaminated through the years of use, and as a result bioremediation was used throughout to varying degrees. (Various trees, plants, and a 18” of biomediated soil was used beneath the grass fields.)
  • Stretch of railroad at the north end is now part of the Burke-Gilman trail that runs through the park.

Pollution in the Park

  • 1976 park opens
  • 1984 park was found to be contaminated, temporarily closed
  • 1985 pollution covered with 1-foot cap of clean soil
  • 2001 $4million cleanup
  • 2004 cleanup of NW corner
  • 2005 investigate sediment contamination


  • 3,000 pounds of tar found in underground vein in NW corner
  • Benzene burned off

Oozing Tar

  • Tar works its way out of the ground periodically
    • Golf ball to Softball size clumps
    • Weekly Park checks for oozing tar (summer months)


  • Long term exposure:
    • Decrease in red blood cells
    • Harmful effects to bone marrow
    • Can cause Leukemia
  • High levels of exposure:
    • Drowsiness
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Confusion
    • death


  • Evaporates in air
  • Dissolves in water
  • Pass through soil
  • High Levels of exposure:
    • Fatigue
    • Pale skin
    • Lack of appetite
  • Long term exposure:
    • Cancer in animals

Easily passed through soil/water, spreads throughout the Park and lake



  • Most underground plums of dangerous chemicals were removed burned off in 2001
  • 5.8 acres of clean soil top
  • Chemicals still exists and pose threats to park goers, ecosystems, and Lake Union

Pollution Today

  • Current levels of Benzene and Naphthalene are bellow dangerous levels for humans
  • Remain above the level harmful to the environment and groundwater

Social Benefits of Gas Works Park

Remnants of the Old Gas Works


Social Benefits of Gas Works Park

A large man-made hill

  • Kite Flying
  • Sundial


Social Benefits of Gas Works Park

  • Picnics
  • Protests
  • Concerts
  • Weddings
  • Festivals


Social Benefits of Gas Works Park

  • View of downtown Seattle
  • Fourth of July fireworks display