Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Seattle  

Sundial: 74
State/Province:  Washington Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Analemmatic Dial Condition:  Good
  Latitude and Longitude: 47° 38.719′ N  122° 20.182' W
Location:
  • Gasworks Park at 2101 N. Northlake Way. Dial is located on top of the Great Mound (Kite Hill) to the west of the old gas works remains, overlooking Lake Union
 
Description:
  • 27 foot circle containing a fanciful analemmatic dial made of bronze and concrete with countless embedded items. Seattle Sundial Trails notes "It requires more than a casual look to recognize the paving that tops Kite Hill as a sundial. At first glance, it seems as if the high tide washed over a bed of fresh concrete, leaving lots of marine creatures and wave prints behind.....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 [zodiac walkway] on which one stands.... 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." At the center of the dial is a large yin-yang symbol, made from light and dark concrete. Within this is the zodiac walkway to stand for casting the hour's shadow. However normal dates have given way to elongated bronze band loops around a wavy center line using zodiac signs to indicate the months. For example: Equinoxes are indicated by Aries and Libra while the summer solstice is the Tropic of Cancer and winter solstice is Tropic of Capricorn.

    The Gas Works Park is a 19.1 acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, The City acquired the site for a park in 1962, but the soil was too polluted. Landscape architect Richard Haag, professor in the Architecture and Planning Department at the University of Washington had the vision to retain the remains of the industrial days. Haag attempted to clear the deep contamination by bio-degradation using bacterial injections. Some new soil was added as well. The boiler house was converted into a picnic shelter with tables and fire grills, and the former exhauster-compressor building became a children's play barn. The park was opened to the public in 1974/1975 and the dial constructed in 1978. The artists meticulously power washed the site and added various objects to the concrete relief sculpture, then sealed their work against the elements.
 
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: City of Seattle Parks & Recreation
  • The explanatory plaque includes information about how to read the time using the shadow of the sun and moon (near the time of full moon). The plaque also thanks John Purcell (gnomonicist), Ted Lloys, Sarah Richardson, Rich Haag, and Plaza d’Artz
  • Designer: Charles Greening
  • Builder: Charles Greening and Kim Lazare
  • Construction Date: 1978
 
References: Web Links:
  • 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).

Last Revised: 2021-07-07 15:26

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