Is this North America's strangest park?
Gas Works Park has to be the contender for the most unusual city park I've ever set foot in. Set along the edge of Lake Union in Seattle's glitzy inner-city neighborhood of Wallingford, there is so much to love about this park and so much that sets it apart from a typical urban green space.
So what's so strange about Gas Works Park? Well where do I start ... If the name doesn't already give it away the first clue this is not your average park, upon arrival visitors will notice the giant looming gas copper gas cylinders and pipes that appear to be rising out of the hillside. This was the site of Seattle's gasification plant which operated from 1902 to 1956, and is the last site in the U.S where a coal gas plant still stands. Since then nature has taken over somewhat and brilliant-green twisting ivy has begun to grow.
The various angles and symmetry of the former Gas plant make the site a photographers dream. Visitors may already recognise the park from the film '10 Things I Hate About You'
The various angles and linear symmetry make Gas Works Park a photographers dream. There's something funky about this place that just a little bit cool and its not hard to imagine the various local indie bands of the Pacific Northwest shooting pictures for their album covers here. Speaking of photography and cameras - fans of the romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You
(1999), may already be familiar with Gas Works Park. The scene where Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles have a paintball fight
and tumble around romantically among uses Gas Works Park, and the Seattle Space Needle as seen from the park as the backdrop. The paintball fight and hay bales were purely set up for the film, but its easy to see how a location like this captures the imagination for photographers and filmmakers alike. The park was also heavily featured in multiple seasons of the US reality hit The Amazing Race
Wikimedia Commons/ Picture: Joe Mabel
The appeal of this park and the way it is used by Washingtonians and visitors to Seattle is as varied as the park itself. Whether it be for flying a kite, or for the perfect vantage point for Fourth of July fireworks, the park is a treasured Seattle landmark. The area also features an artificially sculpted hill known as the 'Earth Mound' which was constructed out of thousands of sections of building rubble and covered over with topsoil and lush turf. At the top of the 'Earth Mound' a hand crafted sundial orients you as you take in the sweeping views of the Seattle skyline, including the famed Space Needle. On a clear day, you will be able to look west towards the Washington's snow-capped mountains on the Olympic peninsula, and the still active volcano Mt Rainier which is the highest peak in the continental U.S.
The view over Lake Union from Gas Works Park including snow capped mountains on Washington's Olympic peninsula
Kids will be delighted with the park's play barn, which has been converted from in the former plants still-standing wooden pump house. Many of the pipes, pumps and compressors are still in place giving the little ones plenty to climb on and explore.
Gas Works Park is unique in that it wasn't originally designed to be a park but after the defunct Gas plant shut down, urban planners recognised the architectural value of the machinery and valued the area's stunning location. I'm sure most visitors to the park are thanking them for their vision for this space.
Residents will already be familiar with this park but for visitors to Seattle, Gas Works Park should be definitely part of the itinerary when wanting to visit unique and lesser known sites in town. Buses run frequenty from downtown to the suburbs of Wallingford and Fremont and from there it is a short walk from Gasworks Park. Next time I'm in the Emerald City, you can be sure I'll be coming back here.
Fantastic views from the park take in the Seattle skyline and the famed Space Needle