Neighborhood Series: Ballard


Ballard City Hall, photographed 1915

The Ballard neighborhood is located in northwest Seattle along Shilshole Bay, a subset of the Puget Sound. The area was named after William Rankin Ballard, the predominant land owner in the late 19th century.

Ballard was incorporated as an independent city in 1889. The main industry along with most of Seattle and the Puget Sound was milling and fishing. In 1907 Ballard was annexed and became part of Seattle due to a consistent water shortage problem.

Historically Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle’s ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, who were drawn to the area because of the salmon fishing opportunities. In recent years the decline of the fishing industry has decreased the proportion of Scandinavian residents but the neighborhood is still proud of its heritage.

More recently Ballard has gone through a transformation from an industrial working class neighborhood and has become gentrified. Starting in the early 2000′s Ballard was targeted as a high-density residential development area. Many expensive condominiums were constructed. Today Ballard is perceived as a younger and hipper neighborhood with a more active nightlife.

A very notable attraction in Ballard are the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks commonly known at the “Ballard Locks”. They enable the connection of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound with the lakes retaining their fresh water.

Aerial View of the Ballard Locks

Aerial View of the Ballard Locks

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