Ballard, Seattle, Washington

From Academic Kids

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Ballard is a neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Incorporated as an independent city in 1890, it was annexed by Seattle in 1907, but has retained much of its old Scandinavian flavor. Its major landmarks include the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (usually referred to as the "Ballard Locks" locally), the Nordic Heritage Museum, and Golden Gardens Park. It is bounded by Crown Hill, north of N.W. 85th Street; Phinney Ridge and Fremont, east of 8th Avenue N.W.; Salmon Bay (part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal to the south); and Shilshole Bay (part of Puget Sound) to the west.

The first homesteader in the area was one Ira Wilcox Utter, who filed his claim in 1852. Thirty-six years later, John Leary, Judge Thomas Burke, and railroader Daniel H. Gilman formed the West Coast Improvement Company to develop Burke's land holdings in the area in anticipation of the coming of the Great Northern Railway, whose tracks would be laid along the Salmon Bay coastline on their way to Interbay and points south. They also had a spur built off the main line of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad from Fremont. Three miles (5 km) of this line are now operated as the Ballard Terminal Railroad, which runs along Salmon Bay from N.W. 40th Street to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainline at N.W. 67th.

William Rankin Ballard, owner of land adjoining Judge Burke's holdings, subsequently joined Burke, Leary, and Gilman, and took over management of the development, then called Gilman Park. Upon incorporation in 1890, the settlement took Ballard's name, and operated as an independent city for 17 years.

The neighborhood's main thoroughfares are Seaview, 32nd, 24th, Leary, 15th, and 8th Avenues N.W. (north- and southbound), and N.W. Leary Way and N.W. 85th, 80th, 65th, and Market Streets (east- and westbound). The Ballard Bridge carries 15th Avenue over Salmon Bay to Interbay, and the Salmon Bay Bridge carries the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks over the bay, west of the locks.

Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle's ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, although in recent years the decline of the fishing industry and gentrification have both made inroads into the actual demographics. Nonetheless, Ballard remains a cliché in local humor, especially its reputation for overly cautious, elderly drivers.

Ballard also contains Ballard High School, soon to be the largest in the district.

Ballard Avenue N.W. between N.W. Market Street and N.W. Dock Place was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

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