News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Peek beneath the Maple Leaf covered reservoir

December 8th, 2011 · 8 Comments

One of the more interesting structures found beneath the lid of the rebuilt Maple Leaf Reservoir is a clearly marked column.

It’s a readout, not of how many millions of gallons of water are in the reservoir, but of how far above sea level the water surface is.

Thus it’s possible to see that although you’re some 30 feet underground in possibly the city’s biggest current construction project, you’re still higher than most of Seattle. (As Maple Leaf Life is fond of pointing out, we’re the third highest hill in town, rising 466 feet outside the Blue Saucer on Roosevelt Way Northeast.)

In preparation for Saturday’s fully booked tour inside the reservoir, we took a trial run on Wednesday, accompanied by photographer Marcus Donner. (The photos with this post are copyright by Marcus R. Donner.)

On Saturday those taking the tour willl walk halfway across the white reservoir lid to concrete stairs at the south end of the reservoir. That walk takes less than four minutes. There are 48 steps leading down into the reservoir.

Underground, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic, and it’s not especially dark, either. The space is cavernous, broken up by dozens of pillars. The ceiling is 25-33 feet high. The acoustics are grand! It’s completely dry now – next month it will be flooded with 60 million gallons of drinking water.

A piece that won’t be on the tour is the circular mechanical vault, shown below, where the drinking water leaves the reservoir and heads for our kitchen taps.

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