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Claim Stakes

Leo Berk

Coleman Dock, Pier 50

Functional design elements echo the history of Seattle’s working waterfront and the origins of the wooden pilings that extended the city into the tidal flats.

Leo Saul Berk. Claim Stakes, 2019. Stained redwood and polyester rope. Coleman Dock, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Joe Freeman

At the spot where King County’s Water Taxi Terminal is now, early Seattle settler Henry Yesler once drove pilings into Puget Sound in order to support a wharf that extended from the city’s first industry—the sawmill. Hundreds of thousands of pilings soon followed, creating solid ground in the tidal flats. These wooden poles were the claim stakes for much of what is now downtown.

In his installation, Leo Saul Berk highlights the significance of these underappreciated and underfoot objects. A grid of redwood stanchions, arranged as a queuing system, are stained in graduated colors to reference tidal marks. Blue marine rope, curved to mimic the gentle waves of Puget Sound, connect the stanchions. Located at the Coleman Dock’s passenger-only ferry terminal on Pier 50, the artwork provides a welcoming gateway, a visual indication of a uniquely Northwest journey, and a reminder about the history of Seattle’s working waterfront.
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Leo Saul Berk. Claim Stakes, 2019. Stained redwood and polyester rope. Coleman Dock, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Joe Freeman
Leo Saul Berk. Claim Stakes (detail), 2019. Stained redwood and polyester rope. Coleman Dock, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Joe Freeman
Leo Saul Berk. Claim Stakes, 2019. Stained redwood and polyester rope. Coleman Dock, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Joe Freeman

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