A friend told me about this facility and we spent over three hours photographing this outstanding historic treasure. For anyone who loves century old machinery, this is a paradise and a feast for the eyes. The colors, myriads of pipes, fittings, and gauges will keep any photographer engaged for hours. There are all sorts of lines from the piping, shapes of the gauges, patterns made by the rivets in the tanks, great patina on the metal, and some outstanding light from the windows.
It was built from 1906 through 1907 by the Seattle Electric Company. Seattle street cars used the power from the plant as well as residential and industrial properties. Oil was burned originally, yet in 1917 it was later converted to coal burning to produce the steam. By 1917 it was only used for emergencies and for backup situations. It saw limited use by 1920. Seattle City Light has owned the plant since 1951. In 1970 it was decomissioned and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1984. The last two operational Curtis vertical steam turbines are housed in this historical structure.
Currently the Seattle Steam Plant is open the second Saturday of every month from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. There is no admission charge, though donations are appreciated. A large percentage of the windows are being restored and cleaned, so plywood is covering the openings. I was told the glass should be back in place sometime in March or April.
Edit: I returned on the 2nd weekend in April. All of the windows had not yet been replaced, but was told they would all be installed in time for the next open house in May. That should produce some great light on the massive turbines.
Click any image to enlarge.