Ballard, a very distinctly Scandinavian community, has been growing more multi-ethnic since its early years. Around the turn of the century it was a city unto itself, named after Captain William Ballard, who planned and incorporated it in 1888. It was annexed in 1906 by Seattle after a horse fell into its drinking water and died, polluting it and forcing its residents to turn to their neighbors to the south for help.
Ballard, which was once supported primarily by the timber and fishing industries, is still supported economically by fishing as well as commercial shipping, light industry and a business community that is quite active. Its excellent access to Puget Sound for boating make the marine industry one of the largest local employers. The majority of people, however, still commute into Seattle.
Today, Ballard is actually many different neighborhoods, with widely varied housing styles and prices. The houses include new construction in Ballard, a vast number of Mench-built houses (post-War 1940’s, sturdy, quaint, flat-roofed) and even an occasional, sweet farmhouse. Suffice it to say that you may find anything from 1920’s and 30’s bungalows to modern new construction.
This well established Norwegian community still feels small, perhaps due in part to its strong identity. It hosts a parade on Syttende Mai (May 17th), otherwise known as Norwegian Constitution Day, which is followed by Seafoodfest in July. Tivoli and Yule Fest are held at the Nordic Heritage Museum.