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Enjoy a fascinating look at this engineering landmark. The 1906 Georgetown Steam Plant, a National and Seattle Historic Landmark, represents important developments in the early history of both electricity and engineering in the United States. The plant houses one of the last operable examples of the large-scale General Electric steam turbines that doubled efficiency and ushered in the “modern” era of electricity production. Patented in 1896, the new turbines reached the market in 1903 and within 15 months their number surpassed that of all other steam turbines combined. These early generation turbines were arranged vertically. Continued developments in electricity and engineering led to the addition of horizontally oriented turbine in 1917. Although the new addition was smaller than either of the older units, it roughly doubled the output of the plant. The power plant, along with exclusive operation of the street railway system, gave the Seattle Electric Company an advantage in the intense competition with other local power companies. The plant discontinued service in 1972, but it still illustrates the history of electricity’s expansion into the everyday lives of Americans.
Photo credit: Rebecca Ossa
Co-sponsor: Seattle City Light