As Syttende Mai approaches, MyBallard examines Ballard’s Scandinavian heritage. Last week we looked at the Scandinavian culinary gems, and today we tour some of the neighborhood’s historical and cultural markers.
A drive or walk along Seaview Avenue at the western edge of Ballard takes residents and visitors right by the Leif Erikson memorial, where a statue of the Norse explorer looks out over Shilshole Bay and the boats moored in the marina.
A Shilshole icon for decades, the statue was a gift to the city from the Norwegian American community, and was unveiled during the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. It now sits surrounded by rune stones bearing the names of Scandinavian immigrants, a relatively new tribute to Scandinavian immigrants, which the Leif Erikson International Foundation, or LEIF, unveiled in October 2007.
To the east, in the heart of the Sunset Hill neighborhood, the Nordic Heritage Museum lies nestled in a residential area just off 32nd. The museum shares the history and culture of each Scandinavian country through exhibits featuring dioramas, artifacts, clothing, events and classes for children and adults, special exhibits, and more.
Here’s a look at a couple upcoming events at the museum:
– May 14: Concert by Ole Morten Velde and Erlend Hetterud – Two of Norway’s finest musicians will be in concert at the museum. Pianist Erlend Hetterud is from Bergen, Norway and Vocalist Ole Morten Velde is from Haugesund, Norway.
– May 15: Kids with Cameras – Taught by a Swedish teacher and photographer, children will learn about digital photography and take photos that will be displayed in an informal exhibit at the museum.
(Confirm class times, dates, and prices with the museum.)
In Downtown Ballard, Bergen Place Park is a small, urban park along Market Street, where Leary Avenue and 22nd meet. Named after Seattle’s Sister City Bergen, the park features several sculptures by artist Jenn Lee Dixon called “Witness Trees,” and a mural depicting Scandinavian culture. Norway’s King Olaf dedicated the park in 1975.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of Ballard’s Scandinavian heritage. Now we want to hear from you. Where do you see examples of the community’s Scandinavian roots? How have you seen it change throughout the years?
Daytona Strong is a freelance writer for MyBallard.com. She has years of journalism under her belt producing/writing for television and writing for print. She and her husband live in the neighborhood.