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