Introduction

Ballard is a neighborhood approximately 5 miles northwest of downtown.  It is bordered on the south by Salmon Bay and the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  It is bordered by Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound on the West.  Phiney Ridge borders Ballard to the East.  

Ballard is a vibrant community with a village center full of character from its Scandinavian and maritime heritage and DIY/indie culture. Among its assets are early Seattle architecture from turn of the 20th C. Ballard Avenue historical district; a local Nordic Heritage Museum, a sandy Puget Sound beach, a popular year round weekly farmer's market, a hot dining and night life scene, one of the largest clusters of breweries in the city and a rich arts community.  It is one of the most rapidly growing neighborhoods in Seattle - at last count more than 300% of its 2024 growth targets.  The "urban village" area, once full of modest farmhouses and bungalows, is being infilled with denser housing including large apartment buildings, condos and tall contemporary detached homes and townhouses.  

Formative History

The area that is Ballard today was once home to the Duwamish "Lake People."   In 1852 the first homestead claim was filed in the area. In the 1880's a group of investors (Judge Thomas Burke, Daniel H. Gilman and John Leary -- names which can be seen in Seattle trails and streets today) purchased a large swath north of Salmon Bay. William Rankin Ballard took possession of an ajoining tract of timber land about the same time.  Leary, Burke, Gilman, Ballard and Charles Douglas Stimson began the first wholesale timber operations in the area.  The city of Ballard was incorporated in 1890.

Early Ballard was heavily populated by Scandinavian immigrants and its major industries included fishing, foundries and lumber and shingle mills. However due to resource pressures, specifically water supply, and political presssure Ballard agreed to annexation by Seattle in November 1906. In late 1911 construction began on the Washington Ship Canal linking Puget Sound to freshwater Lake Union and Lake Washington.  Locks and a saltwater drain were constructed to ensure that canal and lake water remained fresh.  The ship canal was completed and opened to traffic in 1917. The Ballard Bridge, a bascule bridge, was completed to span the new ship canal in 1917.  

These links (Part 1 and Part 2) from the Shingletown Bar contains a quick history with some fun pictures.  Here is a link as well to the Ballard Historical Society

 

Historic Ballard Avenue Buildings - A Walking Tour

The heart of Ballard is historic Ballard Avenue, which runs essentially parallel to the Lake Washington Ship Canal from Market Street on the north end to near the Ballard Bridge on the Southern end.  Ballard Avenue and cross streets were originally Ballard's business district and main street until Market Street took over that role.  The streets are lined with mostly two and three story brick structures dating to around the turn of the 20th Century.  The Ballard Avenue Landmark District was created by act of the City Council in 1976.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places the same year.  The city says that "Buildings throughout the District embody the distinctive characteristics of modest commercial architecture from the 1890's to the 1940's creating a sense that the street is almost suspended in time."  Many of the buildings had retail at street level with lower income residences above.  The granite curbs, cut locally, are essentially intact and still contain some hitching rings.  The street is paved but in areas the original brick paving can be seen.  King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden read the proclamation officially establishing the Ballard Avenue Historical District in the Ballard neighborhood on April 11, 1976.

There are a number of architecturally or historically notable buildings on Ballard Avenue.  You will see most of these marked with bronze plaques.  

Starting at the top of Ballard Avenue at its intersection with Market Street, 5443 and 5447 Ballard Avenue (1905).  This sandstone and brick structure built by a Norwegian miner was typical of early mixed uses on Ballard Avenue.  The bottom floor had grocery and meat markets. An early photo shows Peterson and Jensen Grocers, The People's Store, in the spot.  The upper  floor was the St. Paul Hotel and then the Princess Hotel which housed mill workers and fishermen.  The south side of the second floor shows a painted advertisement for the Princess Hotel. The upper floor now houses the Princess Apartments.  

5419 Ballard Avenue (1913) is the Frank Pyle Building.  You will see the original tile bearing his name in the doorway. Pyle was a town marshall and at times was involved in management of lights, water and streets.  After retiring he opened a saloon at this location.  For a time the building was called "El Roach Tavern" and interestingly the Grateful Dead were reported to have played a show there Today the location is home to Kavu -- a clothing boutique. 

5411 Ballard Avenue (1890), a wood frame structure characteristic of many of the earliest commercial buildings in Ballard, has been altered over the years but was remodeled to an approximation of the  stick style false front design.  The building has housed a bakery and prior bars and restaurants.  It is now home to Volterra an upscale Italian restaurant.

5403-5407 Ballard Avenue (1901).  The Portland Building is considered an excellent example of Ballard Avenue decorative brickwork. JC Penny, drug and dry goods stores occupied the building in its early years.  It also housed a series of bars.  Today it houses a few different businesses including Miro Tea, a Volterra Restaurant special event/ catering space, and Vain salon. 

5410 Ballard Avenue (1908). The Eagle Building once housed the Fitzgerald and Hynes department store.  It was also a lodge building for the Ballard Aerie of Eagles and a printing facility for the Ballard News-Tribune.   It now houses Ballard Annex Oyster House on its ground floor.

The park, Marvin's Garden, at the intersection of 22nd Avenue and Ballard Avenue (directly to the south of the Eagle building) was the site of the original Ballard City Hall which was demolished in 1967 after being damaged in an earthquake.  The park is marked by a city park sign but more notably by the Ballard Centennial Bell Tower, which was created to hold the bell from City Hall.   

Turning West on 22nd Avenue briefly at Shilshole Avenue (5309 22nd Ave) is the Henry Whyte Building (1927).  This building was delapidated and deemed not worthy of historic preservation when a developer purchased it a couple years ago and the structure was substantially renovated by the owner and primary lessee. The building initially was the Ballard Millwork Company.  Later it became Union Wines. Painted on the facade was "Bonded winery #35".  After Prohibition when it became legal to make and sell wine Union Wines appears to have been the 35th bonded winery in the state of Washington -- which would have been around 1937 to1938.  Today the top portion of the building has been converted into Kickin Boot Whiskey Kitchen.      

Catercorner from Marvin's Garden Park to the Southwest (5345 to 5349 Ballard Avenue) is a flatiron shaped building constructed 1901.  It is marked by stone facing with brick above and and stone columns with a leaf motif on the caps.  This building served predominantly as a drug store in its early years.  It was the A.W. Preston drugstore before becoming the 4th Bartell's drugs in the region around 1915.  It was later a sporting goods shop and guitar store.  Currently it houses the shop and studio of artist and collector Curtis Steiner.   

The wood frame structure at 5341 dates to around 1880.  It is of a style characteristic of the early wood frame buildings on Ballard Avenue but actually was created from two homes from the International District that were slated for demolition and were moved to this location.  The building was reportedly a brothel in its early years but in the last few years has served as a law office. The building is being redeveloped as a restaurant, which is expected to open sometime in 2016.  

About a block down on the same side of the street At 5323 is the G.S. Sanborn Building (1901).  The large three story structure with a grey sandstone facade is considered one of the most architecturally signifcant buildings in Ballard being the only example of the Romanesque style popularized by H.H. Richardson in the Eastern U.S. starting in about the 1880's.  In its early life it housed French and Nelson Dry Goods and Hauff's Department store.  The building has been restored and now houses office space with retail and a restaurant on the ground floor.  

At 5301 Ballard Avenue is the Ballard Savings and Loan Building (1914)(a predecessor to Washington Federal bank). A typical neo-classical revival style with a terra cotta facade that was characteristic of banks during this period.  The pediment has a bas relief of a cornucopia of fruits and grains draped with a banner reading “Thrift.” Ballard Savings and Loan moved here in 1917.  

Taking a brief detour, turning right (west) on Vernon Place and walking one short block to Shilshole Avenue to the right is the old C.D. Stimson Company Office.  This was the Paymaster building for the Stimson Lumber Mill -- the largest of the mills in Ballard.  It was right across the street where Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel is now.  The Arts and Crafts brick building was designed by Kirtland and K. Cutter of Spokane, who also designed Seattle's famous Stimson-Green Mansion.

Returning up Vernon Place just across Ballard Avenue you will see the Scandinavian Bank Building (1902) at 5300 Ballard Ave. The Second Empire Baroque building interestingly looks like stone but is poured concrete The bank closed in 1920 or so and was replaced by the Canal Bank and later the Harvey Rooms, a brothel.  Thereafter it eventually became a single room occupancy hotel called the Starlight.  A few years ago the owners of the Olympic Athletic Club purchased the building, renovated it and opened the Ballard Inn, a small European style hotel.  

South of Vernon Place, on the same side of the street, 5226 Ballard Avenue is the Mathes Building (or Mathes Block)(1903). Originally it housed the Old Home Saloon (which later moved across the street and became Hattie's Hat).  During the Prohibition era after the saloon moved out, the building housed the Ballard branch of the Dexter Horton National Bank (the 15 story landmark white terra cotta building that housed the main branch of the bank can be found on 2nd Avenue and Cherry downtown).  The blue and white tile in the doorway, similar to that found in the Frank Pyle Building, shows the name of the bank.  The building was also known as the Elks building as it housed the Ballard chapter of the fraternal organization.   Today the building forms part of the Olympic Health Club complex. 

Across Ballard Avenue at 5233 Ballard Avenue is an 1890's building that originally housed Percy and Grub Dry Goods and was later called Percy's Men's Furnishings.  Since at least the 1940's the building has housed a bar.  It is now Percy's - an apothecary themed bar and restaurant.  

About a half a block south 5213-15 Ballard Avenue dates to 1902.   The building housed a Scandinavian dance hall and a string of music venues including the Prairie Schooner and New Melody Tavern.  It has also housed, and continues to house the Deep Sea Fisherman's Union and the Tractor Tavern, one of Seattle's premier music venues.  

On the SW corner of the intersection of 20th Avenue NW and Ballard Avenue (5002-5006 20th Ave) is the Kors and Wegener Building (1893) which has metal facade cornices. From 1890's to the 1910's there was wine room at street level.  It also housed the offices of the Ballard News.  It was saved by a local glass and metal artist who purchased it for her studio as well as apartments. The boutique Monster Art and Clothing is on the ground floor. 

Interestingly at the same intersection of Ballard Avenue and 20th Ave NW there are also two flatiron shaped brick buildings of note.  

*On the NW corner of the intersection (5200 Ballard Avenue) s the Junction Building (1890). The building which once had a third floor with a turret was originally Junction Hall - a community center.  It has also held a theater, shops and offices.  It is now a Scottish pub and restaurant.

*On the SE corner of the intersection (5135 Ballard Ave) is the Ballard Livery and Transfer Building (1897).  The building originally was called the Ballard Feed Co. Building until the owner acquired Ballard Livery & Transfer Company in 1903.  It now houses offices. 

5140 Ballard Avenue (1902) - The Owl Tavern Building.  The Owl Saloon with its mahogany bar was a fixture on Ballard Avenue.  It was subsequently renamed the Owl Cafe during prohibition.  It is now Conor Byrne -- an Irish pub and live music venue.   

South of the Owl Tavern Building are the Theisen and Chopard Buildings (5130 Ballard Avenue) and (1898 and 1901). The buildings have served a number of uses over the years including the L.Chopard Liquor Store, the California Wine Company and the Ballard Theater.  Food personality Kathy Casey purchased and renovated the buildings for her headquarters.  

Main Attractions: 

*Ballard Locks (aka Ship Canal Locks aka Hiram Chittenden Locks).  The Ballard Locks were constructed in connection with the digging of the ship canal linking Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington.  The locks are a major tourist attraction because they capture the real essence of maritime Seattle.  A major working commercial fishing fleet is based out of Seattle and much of that fleet is based in the protected ship canal in or around Ballard to include at the Fisherman's Terminal West of the Ballard Bridge at the foot of the Magnolia neighborhood.  The locks complex consists of the locks themselves, the fish ladder (salmon ladder), a small visitor center and botanic gardens.  There are also music performances on the grounds -- mostly during the summer.  

The locks, which are open to vessel traffic 24 hours a day, ever day of the year, elevate the fresh water Washington Ship Canal (and Lake Union and Washington) 20 to 22 feet above sea level, prevent mixing of seawater with the fresh lake water and facilitating marine traffic in both directions.  Construction on the locks by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was completed in 1917.  There are two locks, a small lock and a large lock.  The larger lock is reserved for very large vessels or cargo or during very busy times.b Vessels, when instructed, move into the lock in an orderly fashion. Staff give instructions on placement and tying up.  Once the lock is filled or all vessels have been accomodated, doors close and seal behing the last vessels and water is either pumped out of the lock to lower the water level (for Westbound traffic) or pumped in to raise the water level (for Eastbound traffic).  When the water level has lowered to Sound level or raised to ship canal level the opposite doors open, the vessels untie and leave with assistance from staff.  On the ship canal side a salwater drain returns saltwater out to the Puget Sound side of the locks to help keep the ship canal water fresh.  There is also a spillway to help regulate freshwater levels in the ship canal and Lake Union and Lake Washington. 

At any time of the year you might see fishing vessels, commercial processing vessels, research vessels, and a variety of recreational vessels from small skiffs or even kayaks to mega yachts and classic wooden yachts and sailboats.  Visitors can walk along both sides of each lock using walkways built over the lock gates.  When the locks are ready to open a flashing light and alarm will sound.  Once the walkways are clear the gates will open.  However because of the nature of the locks (where one side is always closed) there is always a reasonably convenient crossing so that visitors are not delayed.  

The fish ladder or salmon ladder was built to accomodate returning salmon returning to hatching and spawning grounds. It is found at the south edge of the locks complex.  The locks consist of a switchback of 21 stepped levels (weirs) -- each with a central portion and a resting pool.  It is not well known but there is also a bypass tunnel that give the salmon an alternative route.  Before the last step is a large resting pool. Visitors can learn about salmon migration and view the salmon via an underwater viewing area.  There are also walkways where visitors can watch the salmon leaping from level to level.  It is a very primal experience watching the salmon make their dying voyage to spawning grounds.   The largest run is the sockeye run.  You can see them in the locks as early as June and as late as October but the main body of the run will be in July and perhaps early August.  Chinook start running in July and can be seen in the locks as late as November but the best viewing is in the second half of August.  Coho can be seen in the locks between August and November but peak in the second half of September.  Since 2000 between 20,000 (2009) and 415,000 (2000) sockeye per year have passed through the locks yearly.

Other wildlife can be seen at the locks as well including harbor seals, sea lions, and a variety of seabirds mostly gulls and blue herons although osprey and bald eagles can also be seen and in the last several years in December and January arctic snowy owls have been coming to Ballard. Sea Lions have been controversial in the Pacific NW because they feed on salmon. Arguably the goal is protect salmon populations but sea mammals are also protected and concerns about sea lions seem to have more to do with the fact that a lake washington sockeye fishery requires more than 350,000 sockeye to return to the lake. 

The Carl English Botanical Gardens are named for longtime U.S. Army Corps of Engineers horticulturist Carl English who is considered now to be one of the most influential horticulturalists to have worked in the Pacific NW.   

The locks visitor center shows a film about the locks and has a small, fascinating and free museum about the locks, vessel traffic and the ship canal.  

Also note that the grounds contain several historic buildings. The most notable is the Adminstration Building which overlooks the locks.  Up on the hill tucked into the grounds is Cavanaugh House which was build for Col. James Bates Cavanaugh the engineer who oversaw construction of the locks.  Each Chief Engineer at the locks stays at the home during their three year tenure.  The house, constructed in 1913 was one of the first concrete homes built in Seattle. The Administration Building dates to 1914-1915.  It was designed in the Second Renaissance Revival Style by eminent local firm Bebb and Gould.  

*Nordic Heritage Museum - This small gem of a local museum has a permanent exhibition on the Scandinavian immigration to Washington and the early days of Ballard.  There are country-specific rooms upstairs and a wide range of special exhibitions -- often surprising -- of influential Scandinavian artists, architects and designers. Examples have include pieces on local personality Ivar Haglund, an exhibit of the paintings of Ørnulf Opdahl, an exhibit on Scandinavian drinking culture and more. 

The museum is also very influential in the community.  They host music performances, breakfasts, readings, lectures and language and arts classes. They sponsor the Nordic Lights Film Festival, and put on small a couple small festivals per year including Viking Days in August, Yulefest in November.  They also put on the Nordic Lights Auction and host the Nordic Knitting Conference every other year.  

The Nordic Heritage Museum is entering the final stretch in a capital campaign to build a new state-of-the-art museum on the ship canal in the center of Ballard.  Groundbreaking is scheduled to occur in 2016

*Golden Gardens - Golden Gardens Beach is at the very northern end of the Ballard Puget Sound waterfront.  An appealing park and beach it has popular picnic facilites, a sandy beach, a boat ramp, beach volleyball courts, fire pits and an event space. There is also a short but pretty wetlands boardwalk.  The views from the beach across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains are striking.  The northern portion of the beach has a rocky intertidal area.  In low tides there is often excellent tidepooling. In the summer volunteer naturalists are on hand to provide information.   Two notes of caution:  The beach is not served by public buses so it is difficult to access without a car or bicycle.  As the beach and its parking areas are isolated, exercise caution visiting at nights.   

*Sunday farmer's market -  Ballard hosts one of the city's largest neighborhood weekly farmer's markets year round, Sundays on Ballard Avenue and Bergen Place Park.  In addition to a wide variety of farm/producer stalls there are, as space allows, craft stalls and prepared food booths.  There are always several musicians or groups busking at various places around the heart of the market.   Take a look at the Ballard Farmer's Market blog for what is fresh and interesting each week.   

*Ballard brewery district - Ballard's Largely light-industrial and commercial area of Ballard near the ship canal and south of Market Street East of 15th Avenue is home to 10 breweries -- the highest concentration of breweries in the city.  Redhook Brewery, one of the country's first craft breweries, was originally founded in an old transmission shop along Leary Way in 1981.  Although they subsequently outgrew the neighborhood, beer fans have started to refer to the area as the "Ballard Redhook Brewery District."    The breweries currently in Ballard are:

 

 

 Scandinavian Ballard

Although many, particularly in the older generation in Ballard, feel that the neighborhood is losing its Scandinavian Heritage, and many Scandinavian shops have closed over the years, Ballard's predominant ethnic heritage lives on in a still strongly Scandinavian population, a museum to the neighborhood's heritage, place names, art, and architecture.  

*Nordic Heritage Museum -  See main attractions (above).

*Bergen Place -  At the intersection of Leary Way, Market Street and 22nd Avenue NW is Bergen Place Park named after Ballard's sister city, Bergen, Norway.  The park was originally dedicated  by King Olaf of Norway in 1975 and was resesigned in 2004. Features of the park include a mural, a sculptural installation, flags of Norway, Sweden, Denmank, Finland and Iceland, and a variety of stone benches and large stones.

The mural, by artists Mike Svob and Allen Wiley, commemorates the ties and common identity of Bergen Norway and Ballard.

The sculptural installation "Witness Trees" by Jennifer Dixon is based on an illustration by Hans Christian Andersen.  The "trees"are posts that formerly supported a canopy on the site; each has a scuptural top intended to correspond with a facet of the history of Ballard and the NW -- fossils of ancient marine life, a representation of the earliest trees, the Duwamish Lake People, the Ballard fishing industry and the Nordic diaspora (with Ballard and Scandinavian cultural cues).  

The granite stones by James Cole are intended to evoke mountains, fjords and seascapes and each was hand etched with traditional embroidery and weaving patterns from a Scandinavian country found in resources at the Nordic Heritage Museum.   There is also a six-foot high standing runestone with the the original bronze plaque from the 1975 park dedication and inscribed with Viking-era designs by Jay Haavik.    

*Ballard Public LIbrary and Neighborhood Service Center -  This library branch opened in 2005.  It was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson with a modern Scandinavian and NW design emphasizing natural wood, a sod roof and large areas of glass to capture what can be limited daylight.  It also has cues evoking the neighborhood's maritime heritage including elements that resemble a ship's bow and a periscope which can be used to look out over the green roof.  The building was the recipient of a number of awards for its design and green elements including grass roof (bird habitat, insulation and water run off moderation) and a combination of traditional solar panels and photovoltaic glazing technology.  The library also contains computer assisted artwork pieces "Weather Permitting" and "Flow" in which Donald Fels, Andrew Schloss and Dale Stammen have collaborated.  The computer software for "Weather Permitting" translates data on wind speed and direction,  sunlight and cloudcover and water sounds from instruments on the library roof into patterns of motion on LED displays as well as sound.  The software for "Flow" translates weather change data into combinations of sounds that change at unpredictable intervals throughout the day.  Sound sources include sounds from around Ballard such as train sounds, surf, vessel traffic, and real time audio from the rooftop.  

*Son's of Norway  Leif Erickson Lodge -  Just behind Market Street on 57th Street, this building (completed in 1961)  has a fanciful Norwegian style facade and a small bust of Leif Erickson.  Throughout the year they sponsor activities promoting traditional Norwegian culture.  

*Leif Erickson Statue-  The Leif Erickson League gave a 17 foot statute of Viking Leif Erickson, argubly the first European to reach America, in 1962.  It was unveiled during the Century 21 Exhibition (World's Fair).  It was placed on a pedestal overlooking the Shilshole Bay Marina. The scupture was restored and the site improved in 2007 to include a tribute to Scandinavian immigrants by Jay Haavik.   The statue's base and surrounding standing rune stones list the names, home cities and dates of arrival of more than 1700 Scandinavian immigrants.  The encircling stones also featured Viking era carved designs 

*Syttende Mai -  May 17th is Norwegian Constitution Day and Ballard's parade is one of the largest outside of Norway with classic cars, firetrucks, marching bands, folk groups and more.  There are usually Fjord horses, and music and dancing events around Ballard, not to mention copious flag waving and bar-going.  

*Viking Days - a yearly festival every August celebrating the Nordic Viking heritage.  The center of the festival is a recreated Viking Village with displays of day to day live, blacksmithery, weaving and the like. There are also Scandinavian foods, a beer and aquavit garden and music performances.  

*Yule Fest - a yearly festival every November celebrating Scandinavian holiday traditions.  There is a large craft sale, music and other performances and traditional Scandinavian seasonal food and drink.  Held at the Nordic Heritage Museum. 

*Old Ballard Liquor Co. - On Shilshole Avenue between the 14th Avenue Boatramps surrounded by the Seattle Maritime Academy and several maritime businesses is a microdistillery that focuses on variants of the Scandinavian spirit aquavit.  In Spring/Summer they will also be launching a tiny restaurant/cafe in their space featuring house cured meats, contemporary Scandinavian dishes and cocktails.  

*Scandinavian Bank Building - See walking tour of Ballard Ave. above.

Maritime Ballard:

*Ballard Locks (aka Ship Canal Locks aka Hiram Chittenden Locks) -- see main attractions (below)  

*Pacific Fishermen Shipyard:  You can see the shipyard and drydock from Shilshole Avenue and Market (which turns into  24th Avenue NW north of Market St.). The shipyards was established in 1946 to service a range of vessels from tugs to commercial fishing vessels as well as a range of recreational vehicles.  Occasionally "Deadliest Catch" vessels when in port can be seen in their dry dock. 

*Deadliest Catch Boats:  Several vessels from the current and past seasons of the TV reality crab fishing series "The Deadliest Catch" (such as the Northwestern, the Wizard, and the Cornelia Marie) homeport in Seattle and specifically in Salmon Bay and the Fisherman's Terminal area of the ship canal between Ballard and Magnolia when they are not in Alaska for the season. It is also possible to see Deadliest Catch and other commercial fishing vessels in dry dock at the Pacific Fishermen Shipyard dry dock getting serviced.  Really the best way to determine if any of the vessels or personalities are in town is to follow Facebook pages.  The website Salty Dog Boating News, has various boat spotting pages including a section on the Deadliest Catch vessels.  Also check Marinetraffic.com which you can use to identify various vehicles in/around Ballard.  

*Seattle's historic long line schooner fleet: Seattle is home to some of the top grossing vessels in the North Pacific halibut harvest, which runs from April to early September.  Of 135 halibut schooners built in the northwest from 1900 to 1928, 22 vessels are still in operation.  Some of these remarkable vessels still in service are now 100 years plus.  The Tordenskjold, which was the subject of a documentary "Tordenskjold: Boat of the Century" was built in Ballard and launched in 1911. Other historic long line schooners built in Balalrd include the Vansee and the Polaris (built 1913), and the Resolute, Grant and North (built 1924).   The majority of the fleet home ports at Fishermen's Terminal.  

*Ballard Kayak offers excursions that depart from Golden Garden's beach, through the locks around the ship canal with views of the commercial fishing ships including Deadliest Catch boats.  

*Shilshole Avenue.  Running Parallel to the ship canal just to the West of Ballard Avenue, this industrial stretch is home to a range of maritime businesses like Trident Seafood, Sagstad Marina, and Canvas Suppy.  Marine industry, boatyards and the like line the ship canal and lake Union.  

*Deep Sea Fisherman's Union - See Walking Tour of Ballard Ave above.  The union represents long line fishing crews.  Although membership has been dwindling in recent years (mirroring the decreased participation in the Fishing Vessel Owner's Association which represents long line vessel operators) the Deep Sea Fisherman's Union of the Pacific celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2012.

*Ballard Seafood Fest -  For more than 30 years this July festival has celebrated the neighborhood's key role in the Seattle fishing industry. The festival is focused on a salmon bake and other food stands featuring seafood offerings.  However the festival now has live music, a Ballard-brewery-focused beer garden, booths selling arts and crafts, and special events like a lutefisk eating contest (lutefisk, a traditional Scandinavian food, is a gelatinous whitefish preserved in lye).    

*Numerous bars, restaurants, breweries and other businesses in Ballard have a maritime theme.  For example the Lockspot Cafe, the Sloop Tavern, Barnacle, Anchored Ship coffee bar, The Sexton, Anchor tattoo, and Hotel Albatross bar.  

Mill Town Ballard:

Ballard, at one time, produced more cedar shingles than any other place in the United States.  By 1904 its twenty mills had a combined daily output of 3 million shingles.  The mills are long gone.  However there are a few places where you can get a bit of the history of Seattle as a mill town.

*Nordic Heritage Museum (See main attractions above)

*CD Stimson Mills Paymaster Office (See walking tour of Ballard Ave. above)

*Shingletown restaurant and bar.  (See bars and restaurants below)

Other Things to Do

Ballard's village center has a lot going on year round, from movies, indie shops and boutiques & live music to festivals and special events. The neighborhood also has numerous art studios.     

Festivals and Special Events 

  • Syttende Mai - May 17 (See "Scandinavian Ballard" above)
  • Ballard Seafood Fest - July  (See Maritime Ballard above) 
  • Viking Days - August (see Scandinavian Ballard above)
  • Macefield Fest - October (See Live Music below)
  • Jazz Festival - May (see Live Music below) 
  • Yule Fest - November (See Scandinavian Ballard above)

Dining

 

Live Music

Ballard has one of the best live music scenes in the city.  On Ballard Avenue are three significant music venues and there are others around the neighborhood.  There are also several other music events in the neighborhood each year including Ballard Seafood Fest, Macefield Fest and Jazz Walk.  

 

  • Tractor Tavern
  • Sunset Tavern
  • Conor Byrne
  • Macefield Fest
  • Jazz Walk  

 

Cinema

Majestic Bay - One of the best small independent movie theaters in Seattle.  Majestic Bay plays mostly first run releases. However they also hold special screenings.  In 2016 they were added as a participating venue for the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).   

Bars  - Ballard Avenue once had a reputation for being a rough and tumble area of bars and flophouses that attracted workers in the industrial areas along the ship canal and vessel crews.  Although the neighborhood has dramatically transformed the neighborhood still has one of the largest concentrations of bars in the area.  A few of the many options include: 

  • Percy's
  • Noble Fir
  • The Gerald
  • Bitterroot back bar
  • Ballard Beer Co.
  • Conor Byrne
  • Ballard Station
  • Market Arms
  • Macleod's

 Coffee - Ballard has a solid array of indie coffee shops. These include 

  • Umbria
  • Ballard Coffee Works
  • Cafe Fiore
  • Bauhaus
  • Anchored Ship
  • Java Bean
  • Slate 
  • Royal Drummer
  • Cafe Besalu

 Shopping

 

Art Scene 

  • Building C
  • Shev Shoon
  • Second Saturday Art Walk

 

Getting to Ballard