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Summary for 38th AVE / Parcel ID 2864600180 / Inv # SPU009

Historic Name: Magnolia Bluff Tank Common Name:
Style: Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Magnolia
Built By: Year Built: 1947
The Seattle Water Department constructed this 1,000,000-gallon elevated tank in 1947 to replace the original 250,000-gallon Magnolia Bluff Tank, the first steel tank constructed for the Seattle water system. The steel tank and a small brick pump station at Interbay had been erected in 1911, in order to improve the water supply to Fort Lawton. In 1898, the U.S. Army garrison post had been established on Magnolia Bluff in Seattle with assurances from the City that the fort would receive an adequate water supply with the installation of a new six-inch water main from Queen Anne Hill. Once the fort was in full operation, it was apparent that this would not be the case. The City hoped that the completion of Queen Anne Tank No. 2 in October 1904 would help to provide a more adequate supply, but the poor pressure problems persisted, especially during the summer months. By 1909, the Brigadier General of the Department of Columbia threatened to reduce or abandon the fort if better facilities were not devised. The following year, the Water Department prepared plans for a standpipe on Magnolia Bluff and a pump station at Interbay, but was unable to proceed due to lack of funds. After a summer of 1910 with no water during August and September, a Major Penrose wrote the Mayor in April of 1911, which finally resulted in the construction of the necessary facilities. A 250,000-gallon tank was constructed at 38th Avenue West and West Dravus Street supplied by a brick pump station with an electric pump located on the corner of 23rd Avenue West and West Dravus Street, greatly increasing the water supply to Fort Lawton and the surrounding area. By the mid-1940s, this tank proved inadequate to meet the growing demand for water service in Magnolia. In the more than thirty years since the construction of the original tank, the importance of supplying Fort Lawton had diminished. However, the number of residential customers had increased greatly, a trend, which would continue to accelerate with a post-war building boom. The construction of additional pipelines into the city also required more storage capacity. The new 1,000,000-gallon tank was the second elevated tank of the same size constructed by the Water Department over a three-year period. In 1946, SW Myrtle Street Tank No. 2 had been erected next to the 1919 Tank No. 1, while the 1949 Maple Leaf Tank had replaced two smaller tanks on the site. The Magnolia Bluff Tank is significant for its associations with the development of Fort Lawton and Magnolia and with the growth and development of Seattleā€™s water system.
This 1,000,000-gallon steel tank is located on a slight rise at the northern end of an open grassy site, which covers an entire city block between West Dravus and West Prosper Streets and 38th and 39th Avenues West. A large central supply pipe surrounded by a ring of twelve steel posts supports the tank. Two sets of diagonal braces interconnect the ring of posts, which are bolted to the ground. Riveted steel plates in sections comprise the smooth upper part of the tank. Reached by an enclosed ladder on the eastern side, a fenced external walkway encircles this upper half. Steel girders radiating from the supply pipe at the center support this catwalk as well as the bulbous underside of the tank constructed of steel plates. Approximately ten feet in diameter, the supply pipe has a hatch labeled with "Chicago Bridge & Iron Company." Painted a light blue color, this steel tank has been a prominent feature in the local neighborhood as well as many parts of the Magnolia Peninsula since its construction in 1947.

Detail for 38th AVE / Parcel ID 2864600180 / Inv # SPU009

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Structure District Status:
Cladding(s): Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Other Roof Material(s): Metal
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Waterworks Plan: Other
Structural System: Steel No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
McWilliams, Mary. Seattle Water Department History, 1854-1954: Operational Data and Memoranda. Seattle, WA: Water Department, City of Seattle, c1955.
Seattle Water Department. Annual report / City of Seattle, Water Department. Seattle, WA: 1908-1965.

Photo collection for 38th AVE / Parcel ID 2864600180 / Inv # SPU009

Photo taken Oct 31, 2000
App v2.0.1.0