Lake Union is a natural lake that was transformed early in this century when canals were dug linking Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound. The Chittenden Locks provide boat access from Puget Sound into Lake Union. For many years, Lake Union was treated mostly as an industrial area that floated.
Today Lake Union is an urban neighborhood transformed. The old gas plant has become Gasworks Park, one of the most imaginative parks in America. Most of the debris has been removed from the lakeshore, and where once you saw only greasy clutter you now see people—lots of people.
The southern end is now primarily a mix of restaurants, historical boats, kayak rentals, expensive yachts for sale, and seaplane rides, all connected by a shoreline boardwalk. With the city’s acquisition of South Lake Union Park from the Navy, Steve Allen supplying millions in real estate investment dollars, and a new trolley from downtown to the area chugging along, South Lake Union has emerged as one of Seattle’s hottest neighborhoods on the rise. Learn about it at the South Lake Union Discovery Center (101 Westlake Avenue N., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), which has a pretty cool scale model of Lake Union for folks who dig that kind of thing.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition