Throwback Thursday: Documents of yesteryear

Ballard has certainly had a colorful history that has certainly been very well documented. This week we poked through the City archives and found some interesting documents from Ballard’s past.

The below report by Ballard’s health officer gives an insight of the city’s vital statistics in 1900. Births outnumbered deaths by four to one, and causes of death ranged from heart failure to consumption and typhoid fever.


The below document, written on April 13, 1901, is a formal request from the City of Ballard to the City of Seattle to organize the purchase of safe water. The letter indicates that Ballard’s city council wanted to cement a 20-year franchise, which seems that they were not considering annexation at the time of writing.


The below letter written to Ballard City Council on April 24, 1905, addresses the issue of cow grazing in the area. As Ballard grew and became more urban, conflicts arose regarding livestock.

After a law was passed restricting where cattle could graze, town leaders received petitions both asking for the law to be repealed and for it to be strengthened further. This letter complains about having 20 or 30 cows herded right in their door yard and upset that “those herd boys use all kinds of profane and obscene language in the presence of women.”


The below is an example of liquor license signed on the 18th of September, 1906. According to the City archives, legend has it that Ballard’s ordinances decreed that the number of saloons in the city could not exceed the number of churches.

Those that were allowed to open were not always popular with local residents. According to City records, one petition requested denial of a liquor license renewal to the Pioneer Saloon (then located at First and Shilshole Avenues) because “the saloon has been conducted as a resort for low men and women.”


Photos, documents and information courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

One thought to “Throwback Thursday: Documents of yesteryear”

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