G7. Gas Works Park


Go north on 10th Ave E for 0.9 mi and turn left onto E Roanoke St. After  0.1 mi take the second right onto Harvard Ave E, merging after 0.5 mi onto Eastlake Ave E. Once over the bridge, after 0.4 mi, exit right toward NE 40th St, circling around onto NE 40th St westbound. After 0.2 mi, come to a complex “stop-all-ways” intersection; of the two roads that go forwards, take the left one. After 0.1 mi, bear left onto NE Pacific St. After about 0.7 mi turn left onto Meridian Ave N, then right after one block onto N Northlake Way. After 0.1 mi find the Park entrance and parking lot on your left. The Park was reclaimed from an industrial site in the 1970s. The dial is on top of the prominent small, treeless hill (“Kite Hill”) with a winding path. As well as the dial, enjoy the scrumptious views of downtown Seattle and Lake Union, busy with sea planes, powerboats, sailboats, and rowers.

View Seattle Sundial Trail in a larger map

    Gasworks Park is one of Seattle’s most popular because of its prime location on Lake Union and its great urban views over the lake. Under the direction of Richard Haag, the site was reclaimed from a coal-to-natural-gas conversion plant, and many of the industrial structures have been retained as a reminder of that past.
    On the top of a ~15-meter-high hill, great for flying kites, is an analemmatic sundial, the type where a person stands on a spot (according to the date), casting his/her own shadow and reading the time from an elliptical-shaped pattern on the ground. A bronze plaque built into the ground gives good directions for how to use the dial.
    The dial’s chief artist was Charles Greening (1949- ), well-known in the Northwest for many public art projects.  The structure is colored concrete, with many interesting inlaid objects scattered throughout, including a bronze bear claw, a ceramic crab, pieces of pottery and glass and shells, etc. Many features are in bronze (such as some hour numerals and the line on which one stands, with a position depending on the date).  Bronze casts of three pairs of footprints are those of Greening, the (anonymous) donor of the piece, and the donor’s dog! There are, however, so many inlaid objects and the hour numerals are so stylized that the dial pattern is somewhat obscured.
    The explanatory plaque includes information about how to read the time using the shadow of the moon (near the time of full moon). The plaque also thanks John Purcell (gnomonicist), Ted Lloys, Sarah Richardson, Rich Haag, and Plaza d’Artz

Photos and descriptions are in: Art in Seattle’s Public Places (J. M. Rupp, 1992) and A Field Guide to Seattle’s Public Art (Seattle Arts Commission, 1991).

http://www.fransmaes.nl/zonnewijzers/welcome-e.htm - extremely detailed description of the dial by a Dutch sundial expert (and many close-up photos)

http://www.vrseattle.com/pages/browse.php?cat_id=802 -  panoramic photos of/from Gasworks Park, including the dial

http://www.larch.umd.edu/classes/larc/L160/Slides/parksplaygrounds/SLIDES34_39_45/SLIDES39_45.html – photos of Gasworks Park, including the dial

http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=293 - official Park website; good photos