The sun has been out in Seattle, and so last weekend I hopped on the bike and headed down the hill to Gasworks Park.
Gasworks is one of the more interesting public spaces in Seattle – a lush green lawnscape surrounding the rusting industrial hulk of a decommissioned gasworks plant.
The relics and shadows of a city’s industrial past always give a silent siren call to me; for some reason the abandonment elevates the interest level.
There’s something about urban decay which allows you to feel an almost intimate connection with the spaces. The lifelessness of machinery sitting bereft of purpose provides a canvas for unconscious stories. A city is meant to be lived in, and items left behind, no longer contributing to the life of the city, can be all the more interesting for it.
Gasworks Park brings this decay, normally found in derelict warehouse districts or on the edge of industrial yards, into a vibrant center of public space. It’s this contrast which allows a rusting hunk of metal to add unexpected beauty to the greenery surrounding it.
The tangled metal piping of the gasworks stands in the middle of the park. The bulk of it is surrounded by a fence, discouraging the climbing and exploration (and trouble, certainly) the structure would otherwise bring. But there are some outlying parts of the plant which are accessible, standing right in the middle of the grass field.
On this day, most of the park’s inhabitants ignored the rust-covered metal to soak in the sun. A group of friends had set up shop behind a pavilion in an area with picnic tables I didn’t know existed before. There we ate, drank and played bocce, soaking in the sunlight and the humanity which had the same thought as us on how to spend the day.