News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Will we lose Maple Leaf's landmark water tower?

March 25th, 2010 · 10 Comments

It’s empty.

The million-gallon water tower that can be seen from much of North Seattle and is THE  face of Maple Leaf was drained a half-year ago when construction began on the reservoir park. There’s no plan to ever put it back in service, we learned on a recent tour of the construction site.

Seattle Public Utilities says it has not yet made a decision on the tower’s future. The water tower was built near the corner of Roosevelt Way Northeast and Northeast 85th Street in 1949 to replace two towers built nearly a hundred years ago, around 1915.

Maple Leaf No. 1 was made of wood and could hold 50,000 gallons. Maple Leaf No. 2 was twice as big and made of steel, according to Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods.  Our familiar tower, which holds 10 times that, is Maple Leaf No. 3.

A survey for that department found the water tower (which they insist on calling a water “tank”) appears to meet criteria to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and for Seattle’s Landmark Preservation Ordinance. Either would make it harder to demolish, but the tower does not actually appear on either list.

For the city’s preservation ordinance, the tower must be at least 25 years old and “an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood.” The neighborhood survey states: “Painted with a distinctive maple leaf pattern, this steel tank has been a prominent feature in the local neighborhood as well as the northern end of the city since its construction in 1949.”

Should the city pay to preserve and maintain an unused water tower because it’s been the most visible thing around for over a half-century?

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