Correction: Happy 77th Belated Birthday, Ye Olde Ballard Bridge

Correction: The Ballard Bridge’s actual birthday is May 25, 1940. Many thanks to Sue Pierce from West Woodland for notifying us of our mistake. So – Happy Belated Birthday, Ballard Bridge! (We’ll get it right next year!)

Original: Whether you love it or loathe it, be sure to tip your hat to the faithful Ballard Bridge today. On June 8, 1940, the Ballard Bridge as we know it opened to the people of Seattle, making it 77 years old.

The first Ballard Bridge opened in December 1917. By 1940, however, the old wooden bridge was considered too dangerous to carry the increased traffic and was replaced by a newer bridge with a higher span.

In honor of its birthday, we’ve compiled a list of your best, worst, and funniest moments on the Ballard Bridge (as told on our Facebook page):

Ellen Williams Ackroyd I got engaged at Fisherman’s Terminal. Every time I drive over the bridge and see those boats, I remember that moment.

Nathan Baker Three of us in a pick-up with about 100 fathoms of purse seine corkline piled in back. End of the corkline fell out about mid-span and we set out about half of it before we realized. Complete chaos stopping all 4 lanes. The driver backed up through the mess while we restacked it back aboard faster than humanly possible. No police. No harm. No foul.

Deanna Haala: My car died on the bridge years ago. I was so afraid because the bridge went up right in front of my car. Too close for comfort. I was lucky!

Kimberly Greene: Crossing it. While in Labor. In the SUMMER boat season. White knucking it and Hoping that it would not go UP this one time!

Angela Spiotto Jacobs: When it got stuck open and it took me 3 hours to go 2.5 miles…

Catherine Weatbrook: I was driving on it during the Nisqually quake…If you’ve seen the Tacoma Narrows video from the wind storm? That motion, though clearly not as bad. Light poles snapped. Was an interesting time handling the car.

Peggy Sikes Millar: One night at 1 am it got stuck in open position. The police turned everyone who were heading north into Ballard back. I begged to wait because I didn’t know an alternate route. We had already waited 45 min. As soon as everyone left, the bridge lowered and I was the only car waiting. The police and I laughed and on I went!!!!!

Mary Benfield Clayton: When someone shot a blow dart into the butt of cyclist. Those things are not that accurate and it was moving target. Impressive skill.

Lori Zilko: I owned a 69 Lincoln Continental, in the late 70’s. The gas gauge was broken, thought I had more gas in the car than I did. Coming home from work I ran out of gas in the middle of the bridge during rush hour!! Made a lot of friends that day….NOT!! A very nice and understanding police officer pushed me safety.

Shauna Mann: My two year old peeing in my old Starbucks cup since the bridge was up and we were not going to make it home in time

Patty Hynds: Once I was stopped on the bridge in my convertible & the Blue Angels flew overhead. My daughter & I stood up cheering! It was exciting but it soon became hilarious when the woman behind Me with out of state plates started screaming in fear, I don’t think she knew about Seafair!

Natalie Merry: 20 years ago I got stranded in Discovery park after a rainy 4th of July party with some friends. One of the guys also lived in Ballard so we walked home talking all the way, crossing the Ballard Bridge while sharing an umbrella. He walked me past his house and all the way to my house where he was met by my father who was disappointed I came home so late but was very thankful to the young man who made sure his 16 year old daughter made it home safely. We started a friendship that night that eventually led to more. Monday will be our 12th wedding anniversary! And it all started with a walk across the Ballard Bridge.

Photo courtesy ElTico68, Flickr/Creative Commons

Ballard Crit to take over Old Ballard on Saturday

It’s that time of year again, with hundreds of bikes set to fly through Old Ballard as part of the 24th annual Ballard Criterium bike race on Saturday, June 10.

The race runs a loop through Old Ballard’s streets, starting and finishing at the corner of Ballard Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. It’s a rectangular course that uses Ballard Ave NW, NW Dock Place, Shilshole Ave NW and NW Vernon Place. The races start at 2pm, and the streets of the course will be closed from 12 – 9:30pm.

If you want to join in the race, register online, or register on Saturday before 1:30 p.m.

A USA Cycling license is required to race, but you can purchase a one-day license for Cat 5 men’s and Cat 4 women’s races only for $10. All the other categories require the USA Cycling annual license which can be purchased from USA Cycling (not for sale at the race).

The cost to pre-register for the race is $35 plus tax, day of registration is $40 plus tax. Click here for a full list of the racing categories.

First-ever Shilshole Boatfest is on Saturday

This Saturday, June 10 is the Shilshole Boatfest, a new festival at Shilshole Bay Marina that’s a celebration of all things boating. From 11am to 4pm, there will be free boat rides and lessons, family activities, a beer and win garden, and live music.

The free event is all about getting people out on the water, introducing people to the world of boating and how to boat safely. On-shore activities will include two sea-themed bounce houses, lawn games, music from Marina Christopher and The Side Project, and food trucks galore.

The organizers say people can try out boating in many forms – all for free:

  • Sail with Sound Experience on the historic 133-foot schooner Adventuress. Two three-hour sails will be offered.
  • Take a cruise into Shilshole Bay and back on 20-40 foot sailboats from Sail Northwest, Seattle Sailing Club, and Windworks Sailing & Powerboating. Take the helm or help hoist a sail under the instruction of licensed skippers.
  • Experience the thrill of powerboating with a trip beyond the breakwater with rides by Freedom Boat Club Seattle.
  • Watch kids (ages six to 14) learn to sail as they receive instruction right in the marina on Opti dinghies with Corinthian Yacht Club.
  • Enjoy 20-minute test drives of kayaks and standup paddleboards from Ballard Kayak and Paddleboard.

Other activities include tours of liveaboards, with owners on site available to talk about their on-water lifestyle and a water display from the Seattle Fire Boat just beyond the breakwater in Shilshole Bay at 2:30pm.

“For anyone thinking about getting into boating but doesn’t know how to start or what kind of boating they’d most enjoy, this is a great way to test the waters,” said Tracy McKendry, Director of Recreational Boating at the Port of Seattle said in a statement. “Something many people aren’t aware of is that you don’t even need to own a boat to get into boating. Several of our event partners will be able talk about these alternatives to boat ownership.”

The organizers say they’ll also be accepting donated old sails to the ReSail Project, which provides sails for developing countries in the South Pacific and as shelter for homeless here and in Mexico.

Photo credit: Port of Seattle, Don Wilson

BHS basketball ‘Battle in Ballard’ fundraiser set for this weekend

This weekend, Ballard High School will host the Battle in Ballard, a basketball tournament to help raise money for the school’s basketball program.

“It’s no secret that public school funding is a challenge in Seattle, and hence the support of important extra curricular programs at our high schools often comes down to the community and individuals stepping up and chipping in,” basketball coach and Ballardite Jaime Quick tells My Ballard.

The tournament, which lasts all weekend, will bring together 20 teams from across the state and B.C. It’s the primary fundraiser for the basketball team, raising  money that will go to fund basics such as transportation to games, snacks and drinks for the players, equipment and uniforms.

The tournament starts Friday, June 9 at 4:30pm, and games will continue all day Saturday and Sunday, starting at 9am each day. A day pass is $5 for adults, $3 for students; seniors and kids under 11 are free.

Author readings and open mic on Thursday at Ballard Library

This Thursday, June 8 is the monthly It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series at the Ballard Library. Held from 6 to 7:45pm, there will be author readings and open mics.

This will the 332nd meeting of the series, and this week will feature readings from Francine Walls, Carol Pierson Holding and Catalina Marie Cantu. Andrea Lewis will give a short lecture on the writer’s craft, according to Seattle Public Libraries.

The Ballard Library will host its monthly Poetry Potluck on Thursday, June 22, from 6:30 to 7:45pm. The event is a gathering for listening and reading poetry aloud. SPL says attendees should bring a few favorite poems, and notes that this is a feast of poetry, not a food event.


The Sloop Tavern turns 65 years young

Ballardites have been “Sloopersizing” for 65 years, as the legendary watering hole rings in its birthday on Saturday.

“We are celebrating the fact that an old blue collar sailor bar from the old days is still around,” current owner Patrick Files says.

The history of the tavern is a colorful tale; Files says that legend has it that Ole Olsen brought it with him from England after the Great War. He says there’s a picture in the bar of the “Sloop Inn” – the original Sloop – somewhere in England.

Pre-1970, Files says it was only half of its current size; the other side was a machine shop. In 1976, Wayne “Big Wayne” Schmidt bought the tavern, and then started the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club (STYC), “so he and his sailing buddies had a clubhouse and a place to drink,” Files says. The club is still active, hosting races every Monday night.

Phil and Connie Chase bought the Sloop in the early 80s, who passed it onto their son Joe in 1995. Files’s dad, Charley, bought it from Joe in 1999.

Charley was partners with the Mitchell Bros restaurateurs (owners of Charlie’s, Windjammer, Golden Tides and Spinnakers). In 2011 Charley passed away and Patrick took over. “I’ve tried to keep the Sloop as a time capsule of its heydays,” he says.

The 65th birthday celebration will be from noon on Saturday, June 10 (21+ only). They’ll have food and drink specials, live music, and prize giveaways

(And yes, the 65th birthday t-shirts are for sale. Inquire at the Sloop.)

Ballard residents challenge subdivision proposal

A group of residents are challenging a subdivision proposal in the heart of Ballard, and they’re looking for supporters.

“Your neighbors on and near NW 60th Street are trying to find a way to challenge the kind of lot subdivisions that we all find out about after it’s too late,” Jan Katzenberger from the Baker Street Community Group tells My Ballard. The group is hoping to get a public hearing with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) to voice their concerns.

The proposed lot is at the corner of NW 60th St. and 20th Ave NW

The subdivision in question is at 2002 NW 60th St, and would allow 20 dwellings on a space that currently holds three homes, including the historic Baker House, built in 1890, Katzenberger tells us. According to SDCI, the construction would include 14 rowhouses, five townhouses, and the relocation of one existing single family residence.

“We accept density, but 20 units is excessive and creates a slippery slope for other lots.”

Rather than further urbanizing Ballard, Katzenberger says more family homes are needed. “What we need is affordable family housing, which encourages families with kids to put down roots and invest in the neighborhood.”

Katzenberger says the group needs 50 requests to get a public hearing; contact to make a submission (click here to follow recommended guidelines/talking points).

Cast your vote for street improvements in our district

The City of Seattle is doling out funds to revamp local parks and streets, and they’re asking residents to vote on which areas we’d like to see improved.

One of the proposals is to add an all-way stop on Leary Way NW at 20th Ave NW.

It’s called the Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets, a participatory budgeting initiative in which Seattle residents democratically decide how to spend a portion of the city’s budget on small-scale park and street improvements. A total of $285,000 has been set aside for each city council district; people are invited to cast ballots for their top three choices in their district before June 30. All community members ages 11 and up can vote online or at in-person polling stations at all community centers and libraries.

The eight projects outlined for our district (District 6) are the following: (View all proposals here):

  • Phinney Ridge/Woodland Park: Crossing Improvements on NW 50th St & Dayton Ave NW. Add flashing beacons and curb ramps on NW 50th St at Dayton Ave NW to make crossing safer near schools and Woodland Park. Cost: $75,000
  • Wallingford/Woodland Park: Crossing Improvements on NW 50th St & Whitman Ave NW. Add signage on NW 50th St at Whitman Ave NW to make crossing safer on an intersection with low visibility near Woodland Park. Cost: $6,000
  • Ballard: Crossing Improvements on Leary Way NW & 20th Ave NW. Add an all-way stop on Leary Way NW at 20th Ave NW to make crossing safer near businesses. Cost: $5,000
  • Wallingford/Tangletown: Crossing Improvements on NW 55th/56th St & Keystone Ave NW. Add curb bulbs on NW 55th/56th St & Keystone Ave NW to make crossing safer near businesses. Cost: $65,600
  • Sunset Hill: Accessibility Improvements on 24th Ave NW & NW 70th St. Add an audible crossing signal on 24th Ave NW at NW 70th St to make crossing safer for pedestrians with visual impairments. Cost: $9,000
  • Green Lake: Crossing Improvements at NW 80th St & Corliss Ave NW. Add a curb bulb on NW 80th St at Corliss Ave NW to make crossing safer near Green Lake and Bishop Blanchet High School. Cost $75,430
  • Crown Hill: Traffic Calming on 14th Ave NW between Holman Rd NW & NW 95th. Add low cost curbing on 14th Ave NW between Holman Road NW & NW 95th St to slow traffic near parks and schools. Cost $34,500
  • Crown Hill: Accessibility Improvements on 8th Ave NW. Add 4 curb ramps along the pathway on 8th Ave NW between NW 97th St & NW 100th St to improve accessibility. Cost $100,000

Each district has its own ballot and set of eight to 10 projects, which were selected from about 900 ideas submitted in February by community members across the city. The projects that receive the most votes will be funded by the city and implemented in 2018. Winning projects will be announced by July 18.