The city of Ballard was a boomtown in its own right until its annexation to Seattle in 1907. Today the Ballard district is home to approximately 45,000 residents. Ballard is unique among other communities due to its distinct cultural heritage, and that it serves as a regional commercial center as well as the heart of the Northwest’s maritime industry. There are over 8,000 jobs and nearly 3,000 businesses in the Ballard district.
Ballard’s housing stock provides a wide range of opportunities from waterfront homes and condos on Puget Sound to modest size older dwellings in Central Ballard along with innovative new cottage housing. Many properties in Ballard boast a view of water or the surrounding landscape. New top deck condominiums share streets with historic or architecturally significant homes. Over 1,500 new homes have come on line since the year 2000.
Even as Seattle is a city of Neighborhoods Ballard is a community of neighborhoods: Sunset Hill, Crown Hill, Central Ballard, East Ballard, Whittier Heights, Loyal Heights, North Beach, Olympic Manor and Blue Ridge. Ballard has a long tradition of distinct ommunity identity through its history, its economy and its relative remoteness from major regional transportation corridors. But savvy commuters know the best Express buses to reach downtown in the same amount of time as driving to an I-5 onramp.
Downtown Ballard flaunts its historic roots in the form of the nationally recognized Ballard Avenue Historic District. A stroll down Ballard Avenue turns the clock back 100 years and buildings have placards with historical information. On Sundays Ballard Avenue also becomes a pedestrian thoroughfare for the year-round farmers market.
Business centers include the downtown Ballard central business district, Crown Hill business area, Loyal Heights commercial district, the 15th Avenue NW commercial corridor and a thriving maritime industrial center along the shores of Salmon Bay.
The Ballard district has eight public school facilities. Ballard High School is the Seattle School District’s flagship school. Ballard High, as well as Adams, West Woodland and Whittier are all modern facilities, having been built within the past 15 years. Ballard is home to the Nordic Heritage Museum, clearly one of the nation’s finest repositories of culture from our Scandinavian/Northern European heritage. There are two busy community centers in Ballard operated by the Seattle Parks Department: Loyal Heights at 2107 NW 77th and Ballard Community Center at 6020 28th Ave. NW.
The historic bathhouse at Golden Gardens Park was recently remodeled to provide year-round service as a venue for special events, including at least one wedding per week during the summer months. Golden Gardens Park, Ballard’s saltwater beach, is a 94-acre park on the shore of Shilshole Bay. New parks continue to be built and old ones refurbished as funding from the City’s Pro Parks Levy provides resources. The Ballard Commons Park is designed to be both an open space and entertainment venue in the heart of densely populated downtown Ballard. Three new parks are currently in planning or construction. These include Ballard Corners Park (17th NW & NW 63rd), the Crown Hill Park (14 NW & Holman Road), and a new one acre park planned in the Whittier Heights neighborhood (NW 70th & 9th NW).
The Port of Seattle operates three major maritime facilities in the Ballard area. Fishermen’s Terminal on Salmon Bay is considered home to the North Pacific fishing fleet. The marine industrial center provides additional port facilities to those engaged in Seattle’s commercial fishing industry. Shilshole Bay Marina, its $80 million refurbishment nearly complete, is home to over 1,500 recreational vessels; the largest yacht basin north of San Francisco.
The Ballard Locks is the city’s third busiest visitor destination, attracting over 1.5 million visitors annually. A visit to the fish ladder, the education center, the Carl S. English Gardens and the Locks themselves are a truly unique experience. The new Seattle Public Library in the heart of downtown Ballard is the most popular branch in the city and has been recognized nationally for its architectural design. This unique building is also home to the City of Seattle Neighborhood Service Center.