Join Seattle Obscura Society for a private tour of Georgetown Steam Plant to glean insight into the history of electricity's expansion into the everyday lives of Seattleites.
The Georgetown Steam Plant, a National Historic Landmark, stands today as a reminder of the era of electrification of America's cities and a time when industry was first attracted to Seattle by its inexpensive hydroelectric power and electric trolley car system. The plant provides a great current and historical vista and can still be seen from the core of Georgetown along 13th Avenue South. Built in 1906-1907 by the Seattle Electric Company on 18 acres of land along the Duwamish River, the plant was once at the center of the bustling residential and industrial activity in the rapidly growing Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.
In 1912, Puget Sound Traction, Power and Light purchased the Seattle Electric Company and consolidated all of the electric companies in the Seattle area except for the municipal utility. In the process, the Georgetown Steam Plant was relegated to a minor role in the system, primarily serving as a standby, or "peaking," facility to provide a supplemental source of power only during periods of highest demand. In 1951, the City of Seattle Department of Lighting - today's Seattle City Light - purchased the plant. But with City Light's existing steam plant on Lake Union, and its major hydroelectric project on the Skagit River, the need for power from the Georgetown facility was reduced even further. Nevertheless, City Light continued to operate the plant on a very limited basis, until the 1970s. In recent years, City Light staff and volunteers have been working to restore the plant and each piece of equipment.
$10 of each ticket will be donated to the Georgetown Steam Plant.
Limited parking available on-site. Carpools and public transportation are encouraged. If on-site parking is full, visitors may be requested to find parking off-site, including local neighborhood streets. Seattle City Light assumes no responsibility for personal vehicles parked on- or off-site.
All visitors must stay in designated areas and not go beyond safety barriers or touch any of the equipment. Anyone not complying with these policies will be asked to leave the premises.
Camera tripods are permitted, though we ask for you to be courteous of other visitors in the plant. Tripods are not allowed on the second-floor catwalk. Steam plant staff have the discretion to ask you to move a tripod if it appears to be a hazard or is impeding the experience of other visitors. Camera flash is permitted inside the building.
Bags, backpacks, purses, and packages larger than 11” x 17” x 8” are not allowed inside the Steam Plant. Hazardous materials (e.g. pepper spray) and weapons of any kind are prohibited.
The only access to the second floor of the Steam Plant is via a steep flight of stairs. If you would like to request special assistance, please speak with a Steam Plant staff person
Seattle City Light provides an ADA-accessible portable toilet (aka, Honey Bucket) on the grounds. There is no plumbed restroom inside the building.