Postcards from the Past is an occasional feature, highlighting the history of the Pacific Northwest. The images are from The Seattle Times archive.

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Gas Works Park’s polluted ground would pose problems from the time it was built, and far into the future.

A 2001 Seattle Times article said: “When the park was designed in 1976, landscape architect Richard Haag used a mixture of leaves, soil and sawdust to cover the contaminants, a system that seemed to work for a while.”

On April 22, 1984, The Times reported people who used the park early on knew that the soil was polluted: “Dale Cole hasn’t forgotten the polluted soil beneath Gas Works Park, especially the headaches it used to give him while he was studying the site’s geology in 1971.” But even park designer Haag admitted, “I don’t think any of us were that concerned.”

That month, the park was closed by Mayor Charles Royer for remediation after tests showed “high levels of several known or suspected cancer-causing chemicals in park soil.”

In 1997, 3,000 pounds of tar were dug up and hauled away after a thick black substance bubbled up near Kite Hill.

Two feet of topsoil was put over the park in 2000 and 2001 to act as a barrier from the contaminated soil.

Kite Hill at Gas Works Park was closed September 2014 because of a project that added a layer of dirt and grass in preparation for an offshore sediment cleanup on the perimeter of Lake Union.

Use the slider below to see the transformation of Gas Works Park from 1971 to 1984:

(Photos by Richard S. Heyza / The Seattle Times) (Slider by Gina Cole / The Seattle Times)

 

Postcards from the Past is an occasional feature, highlighting the history of the Pacific Northwest. The images are from The Seattle Times archive.

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