Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington, is an unusual public park located on the site of a former coal gasification plant, on the shores of Lake Union opposite downtown Seattle. The 19-acre site was acquired by the city in 1962, seven years after the plant shut down, and opened to the public as a park in 1975. The park incorporates much of what was left of the gasification plant — the boiler house was converted to a picnic shelter complete with tables and fire grills, while the exhauster-compressor building was transformed into an open-air play barn, housing a maze of brightly painted machinery for children.
The gasification plant of Seattle Gas Light Company was built 1906. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the Gas Company was a significant participant in and contributor to the growth of Seattle and adjoining communities. It’s primary product was coal gas used for lighting, cooking, refrigeration, and heating homes and water. Additionally, the plant manufactured other basic products necessary for urban growth such as tar for roofing, lampblack for pigment in tires and ink, charcoal briquets for odor-free and efficient home heating, sulfur for chemicals and toluene for use in explosives. The plant ceased production of coal gas in 1956 when Seattle converted to natural gas.
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