|Ballard Farmers Market|
Ballard was a separate city at first, but was annexed by the much larger Seattle in 1907. Long known as a blue-collar, working-class neighborhood where you could buy Norwegian culinary delights like lutefisk and lefsa, the area is becoming gentrified and transitioning into a hip, urban village. Historic commercial buildings now house boutiques, trendy shops, chic cafes, and live music clubs.
On Sundays, year around, Ballard hosts what many consider to be the best farmers’ market in Seattle. Tree-lined Ballard Avenue is closed to traffic and vendors selling seasonal produce, flowers, cheese, and pastries take over the street from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. At the western end of Ballard Avenue is a small park and tower containing the original city hall bell. King Carl XVI Gustaf traveled all the way from Sweden to ring this bell in 1976, officially dedicating the Ballard Avenue Historic District.
|Nordic Heritage Museum|
However, Ballard’s biggest tourist attraction, drawing in over a million visitors a year, is the Hi
Chittenden Locks complex located in the neighborhood’s west end. Known locally
as the Ballard Locks, they were first opened in 1917, and are operated by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The locks connect Puget Sound with Washington and
Union Lakes and serve to keep the saltwater out of the freshwater lakes, and to
raise and lower boats the 26-foot difference between the bodies of water.
Nearly 100,000 ships a year pass through the locks, and on any given day you
might see commercial fishing boats, pricey yachts, kayaks, and tugboats all
waiting for a lift. Adjacent, and part of the locks, are a series of fish
ladders built to help salmon on their upstream migration from the ocean back to
the headwaters of the Sammamish River, a feeder to Lake Washington. Underwater, glass panels allow for a close-up
observation of the fish, and the best viewing season is from June to early
October. Also on the grounds of the
locks, is a seven acre botanical garden featuring a large collection of rare
and unusual shrubs and plants.
|Chinook Salmon heading home.|
|Puget Sound and Olympic Mtns. from Ray's Boathouse|