Friday, July 22, 2011

Seattle's Gas Works Park :: The Strangest Park in the World?

 "Gas Works Park is easily the strangest park in Seattle, 
and may rank among the strangest in the world." 
~The Seattle Times newspaper

First time in Seattle. I came with no expectations, except for, maybe, running into Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on the street. Well...that didn't happen. But...Gas Works Park happened, and it was the most bizarre and fantastic park I've ever been to.

The centerpiece of the park on Lake Union is the last surviving coal gasification plant in America. Imagine a massive rustic metal structure of pipes, cylinders and cisterns. MASSIVE. Set in the midst of green hills (for kite-flying), surrounded by water with Seattle skyline on the other side, and sprinkled with gorgeous clusters of marina. Occasionally, you'd see a seaplane zoom above, and if you follow the seaplane, you might even catch it landing on water in a distance. The combinations of such contrasting aesthetics make Gas Works Park the most unusually beautiful place, and most surreal. No wonder Richard Haag, the landscape architect who made the park what it is, won numerous awards and recognitions. 

The park opened in 1975. The Wikipedia says that "the original structures qualify as industrial archaeology and are the last remaining examples of a type of technology." The incredible structures that were once considered ugly and intrusive, seem "adapted" by the surrounding landscape of wild grass and daisies. The metal feels organic and carries a certain romanticism of the industrial era. 

Gas Works is the venue for numerous music festivals and shows. Part of it is turned into a playground, and, apparently, houses a whole community of homeless folk. 

A place like this makes me contemplate the future, and the technological advances. Will there be a park built one day around a giant computer server room?  Or better yet, will there be a virtual park built within a giant server room, making the Nature as we know it obsolete. That's possible. 


  1. Love love love these, Julia!! They are soooo beautiful!

  2. thank you Don and Audrey! I was truly in awe of that place.

  3. I just stumbled across your drawings and think they're wonderful, very cool.