The progressive citizen spirit of the 1890s created Seattle City Light in 1902-03 and the construction of the first publicly owned hydroelectric installation in the country. Soon, however, the rock-filled timber-crib dam on the Cedar River was inadequate to serve all the locals wanting their own electricity — which was also cheaper than the competing private company’s.
The two elegant factories, small and big, recorded here in the spring of 1917 were built in response to these surging public-power needs. First was the Mission style Lake Union Water Power Auxiliary Plant on the left. It generated power from water that fell with a head of about 300 feet from overflow at the Volunteer Park reservoir. Locals enjoyed the coincidence that here, too, as with the timber-crib dam, electricity was being generated by the Cedar River, for Seattle’s supply of fresh community water came by pipeline from that source as well.
Snug to the side of the charming “power factory” the much larger and better-known City Light Lake Union Steam Plant was constructed in 1914, enlarged in 1918 and again in 1921. Perhaps somewhat in the public spirit of this pleasantly sprawling City Light alignment, Daniel Riggs Huntington, their creator, was hired as city architect in 1912 and served the city until 1921.
Through its years Now & Then has featured a good sample of Huntington’s creations, including the Fremont branch of the Seattle Public Library (in the Mission style), the Gothic Firland Sanatorium, new concrete piers for the University (Eastlake) Bridge in the late 1920s, and the D.A.R. Rainier Chapter House on Capitol Hill. All of them survive and are well-preserved.
Anything to add, Paul?
Only a few photos Jean – a nearly random sample.
Jean, I’m revived after six hours of sleep with pleasant dreams. Now I have more for the Eastlake location.