Ballard's first inhabitants were members of the Shilshole tribe, who fished for salmon and clam in the local waters. The first English settler, Ira Utter, came to Ballard in 1853. The community developed a highly successful lumber industry, supported by the water access that provided easy transport. The water's excellent salmon fishing attracted a large wave of Scandinavian fisherman between 1880 and 1920, and boat building also became a successful industry in Ballard.
In recent years, "Old Ballard" has become a hub for a wide array of ethnic cafes from Cajun to Asian and lively music clubs. It remains a “city within a city” with its own pace and special flavor that reminds us of a gentler era in Seattle history. Local groups and merchants sponsor an evening Arts Walk on historic Ballard Avenue on the second Saturday of every month.
Today, Ballard's economy continues to foster a distinctive combination of manufacturing and commercial fishing, in addition to recreational boating. Modern times have also given the community a thriving commercial district. It includes such places as the Ballard Skate Park, the Stone Garden Climbing Wall and Market Street, offering residents and visitors access to the amenities of a large city with the atmosphere of a close-knit community. Some of these amenities include an exceptional and eclectic collection of specialty shops, restaurants, movie theaters and a shopping center.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are the most popular destination along the Lake Washington Ship Canal. They are made up of two navigational locks, a dam and spillway, a fish ladder, a botanical garden and a regional visitor center. An amazing place and an amazing engineering feat, the locks allow vessels to pass from fresh water Lake Washington, into the salt water of Puget Sound.
Located just a few blocks from the locks, Shilshole Bay Marina is only 20 minutes from downtown Seattle. It features a public fishing pier and over a mile of public promenade to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Nearby, Golden Gardens Park offers strolls along a rugged coastline, hikes through forest trails, sunbathing on sandy beaches, fishing from a pier, a dog off-leash area and a boat launch. A recent project in this area also restored two wetlands, established a short loop trail and restored the northern beach.
Fisherman's Terminal is also a popular destination. The sight of 700 vessels heading into port after a long day on the water grants spectators a deep appreciation for a fisherman's work, dedication, and patience. An important industry in the area, fishing in Seattle accounts for over 50 percent of the seafood caught in the United States. When the ships come in, the piers teem with curious onlookers, eager to see what crabbers and fishermen have hauled in from the sea.
The twin fronts of technology and urban culture walk hand-in-hand with the dramatic coastline and high alpine terrain. Three major volcanoes rise above Seattle like silent sentinels, beckoning residents to partake in a multitude of recreational diversions. Tourists flock to this multi-dimensional area to stand in awe of majestic mountains and pristine lakes, while still enjoying the finer aspects of modern living, with amenities such as first-rate dining, movie theaters, opera, professional sports, intense music scene, art museums, abundant neighborhood parks, coffee bars, brew pubs and unparalleled shopping.
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