Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gas Works Park in the wind and rain

Sometimes we don't look at the weather report when we head out on a family excursion, or sometimes we do but the sky is clear and blue so we head out anyway. We've found though, that Seattle skies can change in a matter of minutes and clear and blue can quickly give way to gray and rainy. That's what our trip to Gas Works Park was like last Saturday. Our entrance to the park was greeted with clear skies and gigantic abandoned machinery

and other odd-shaped structures.

Located on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, Gas Works Park has preserved the structures that most communities have torn down, and that's what makes it so fascinating.

We're used to seeing structures like this as the detritus of the industrial age, defunct and rusty behemoths that make you think, I bet that soil is polluted with a million carcinogens. Yet somehow, when they're preserved and painted and put on display, you're compelled see it differently. Wikipedia describes it as a rare example of "industrial archeology." I like that term.

Inside what's known as the "play barn," you can see the welding and the rivets and the ingenuity that went into assembling these structures.

And feel the haunting stillness and silence of these once-productive machines.

You can touch the cold hard steel and look up iron-clad towers.

These things were built to last.

They even outlasted their industry. 

And since it's a prime piece of real estate right on Lake Union with a kickass view of the city, it's only fitting this area would evolve into a tourist attraction.

So they retained what the could, and decontaminated and landscaped the rest.


Right around this time the clouds rolled in and the wind started blowing rain in our faces, but we kept exploring.

 This earthen mound is known as Kite Hill.

 I later learned from Wikipedia that it's a man-made mound, "molded out of thousands of cubic yards of rubble from building foundations covered with fresh topsoil."

 There were a few other intrepid explorers out that afternoon, but not many.

At the top of Kite Hill there's a large concrete sundial.

Apparently, if you stand in a certain spot, you can tell the time and season by the shadow that your body casts.

 Our shadows, or lack thereof, told us it was the dark and cold and windy and rainy season.

But not too dark or cold or windy or rainy for this kid to fly his kite.

Or for our kids either.

It's just another aspect of Seattle

that we love.

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