Ballard was the second-largest city in King County — with about 17,000 residents in 1906 — when troubles over the city’s water supply led to a historic vote to become annexed by the city of Seattle.
“The Ballard water system was no prize,” explains an entry in HistoryLink by Alan J. Stein. “An analysis of the water in 1908 found that it contained a large amount of decomposing organic matter, and that it was potable only if thoroughly boiled.”
On annexation day, Ballard City Hall was draped in black. While city hall is now gone, the bell remains, hanging in the Old Ballard bell tower.
By the way, the annexation vote was somewhat close: 996 in favor to 874 against. That adds up to just 11% of the total population that voted.
(Photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives. Our earlier aerial photo, despite being date-stamped as 1900, was from a later era. Thanks to everyone for pointing this out.)