From Blight to Beauty: The Controversial Creation of the First US Industrial-Heritage Park
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This chapter describes and assesses Richard Haag’s controversial campaign to create Seattle’s Gas Works Park. Haag’s plan is significant in the history of environmental aesthetics, because it was the first to preserve remnants of industrial heritage in a US city park and because Haag appealed to aesthetics when making his case. In a fascinating campaign that played out in newspaper editorials and public hearings, Haag entreated the city of Seattle to view the gas-works ruins as sculpture and continually called attention to their real and potential aesthetic properties. I recount this debate and then argue that Haag succeeded in establishing the aesthetic significance of the ruins of the now much-admired park. I also claim that the gas plant’s remnants now function as genuine ruins, and thus are no longer active agents or monuments of environmental degradation.
KeywordsGas Works Park Landscape design Industrial ruins Richard Haag Seattle
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