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Summary for 319 6th AVE / Parcel ID 1991200405 / Inv # SCL002

Historic Name: Broad Street Substation Control Building Common Name:
Style: Art Deco - Streamline Moderne Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1951
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
City Light constructed this reinforced concrete control building in 1949-51 as part of the Broad Street Substation complex. After the end of the Second World War and the concomitant shortages in labor and materials, City Light prepared plans for additional transmission lines, substations and unit load center equipment in anticipation of increasing demands for electricity by new residential, commercial and industrial customers. These plans included construction of a new receiving substation north of downtown at 6th Avenue North and Broad Street. New 115,000-volt transmission lines would tie this new substation to another new substation in Bothell as well as to the older North Substation. Located outside of the city limits, the Bothell Substation would be built to receive electricity from the existing Skagit River dams as well as the new Ross Dam still under construction. Using the network of 115,000-volt transmission lines, Bothell would then transmit the electricity at a lower voltage to the city’s other receiving substations for distribution throughout the city. After several years of construction, the Broad Street Substation was energized on November 8, 1951 along with the Bothell Substation, increasing the system’s receiving capacity by a maximum of 125,000 kilowatts. Supplied by the Bothell Substation and tied to the North Substation, the Broad Street Substation served the area south of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and north of the downtown business district. In 1952, the recently purchased Canal Substation was tied into the Broad Street Substation as well. New power generating sources came on line at the same time, which took advantage of the improvements to the distribution network within the city. In 1951, an additional 48,000-kilowatt generator was installed at the Gorge Plant, and three 90,000-kilowatt generators were installed at Ross Dam between 1952 and 1954. During 1951, two 1,500-kilowatt rectifier units were also installed at the Broad Street Substation, which went into service the following year. The rectifiers were necessary in order to convert conventional Alternating Current (AC) to the Direct Current (DC), which powered the Seattle Transit System’s electric trolley buses. More than a decade earlier, the City had converted its electric streetcar system of public transportation to the trolley buses. Within ten years, further modernizations were necessary to supply Direct Current to the Transit System with higher efficiency and reduced conversion costs. The modern Mercury Arc rectifiers, which replaced the obsolete rotary equipment, also allowed non-attended operation of conversion facilities. From 1951-1955, City Light added equipment at the new Broad Street Substation and constructed new substations at South, University, North, Avalon, Fremont, Leary, Gatewood, and Olympic Hill. The electric trolley buses operated throughout the City for another decade until 1963, when diesel buses replaced them north of the Ship Canal and south of Spokane Street. Ten years later, the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (METRO) took over the Seattle Transit System, ending over fifty years of municipal control of the City’s public transportation system. Although nearly devoid of ornamentation, this building exhibits some Streamline Moderne and Modernistic design elements. More impressive is the entire substation complex when viewed as a whole. Unlike earlier substation sites, which developed in a piecemeal fashion over time, this complex, occupying a full city block, has a unity of design throughout, which ties it together visually. With its distinctive stylistic features, this building is significant for its associations with the growth and development of City Light and with the municipally owned public transportation system and its modernization during its years of operation.
Completed in 1951, this one-story reinforced concrete building is located along 6th Avenue North on the eastern side of a large site, which covers an entire city block bounded by Harrison and Thomas Streets and by Taylor and 6th Avenues North. Two additional buildings are located at the northwest corner of the site, a crane tower and an attached shop. Electrical transmission and distribution lines fill much of the remainder of the site, which also contains modern buildings with additional equipment. The original concrete wall surrounds the site, however a later steel mesh fence installed on top of the wall now provides further security. This reinforced concrete building has a rectangular plan, which measures approximately 73 feet by 61 feet. The Modern design of this flat roof building displays some Streamline Moderne stylistic influences. These include a smooth concrete exterior incised with lines to create strong horizontal bands and a fluted curved recessed entrance at the northern end of the principal east elevation. Reached by a flight of stairs enclosed by the original railings, this entrance features multi-paned transom windows above heavy double doors. A "CITY LIGHT BROAD STREET SUBSTATION" sign is situated on the façade above the entrance. Near the southern end of this elevation, a large opening at loading dock level contains an overhead metal door, which lies adjacent to a single entrance door reached by a flight of stairs. A double door entrance to the basement level of the building has been covered by boards. The south elevation appears to present a blank wall with electrical equipment attached to it. The rear west elevation has a band of windows along the upper portion of the northern end. A corrugated metal shed roof covers a wide entrance door centered below this band. The eastern end of the north elevation has two large bands of windows situated at the first story level above two narrow bands at the basement level. Towards the western end, entrances to the upper and lower levels are centered over each other. The covered upper entrance is reached by a flight of stairs, which provides cover to the lower entrance. The far western end has an additional band of narrow windows set high on the wall. Distinguished by its uniform site development, this building is well maintained with excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 319 6th AVE / Parcel ID 1991200405 / Inv # SCL002

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Government - Public Works Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Office of Management and Planning. Seattle Commons/South Lake Union Plan: Seattle, WA: Office of Management and Planning, 1995.
Seattle Department of Lighting. Annual report / City of Seattle, Department of Lighting. Seattle, WA: 1910-1974.

Photo collection for 319 6th AVE / Parcel ID 1991200405 / Inv # SCL002

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000
App v2.0.1.0