Ballard

Mayors: 
Charles F. Treat 1890
T.W. Lake 1891
J.H. Rinehart 1892
A.E. Pretty 1893
Edmund Peters 1894
Matthew Dow 1895
George G. Startup 1896-1899
David McVay 1900
John Johnson 1901
Thomas C. Reed 1902
A.W. Mackie 1903
J.E. Zook 1904-1905
Justus H. Wiley 1906
H.E. Peck 1907

Ballard city hall

Built in 1899, Ballard's City Hall contained a jail, the fire
department, city offices, and community meeting rooms
and a ballroom. The building, pictured here in 1902,
was torn down in 1965.
University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections, A. Curtis 00881

First settled in the 1850s, Ballard grew quickly through the last half of the 19th century. After it became known that the Great Northern Railroad would route its trains into Seattle from the north, the town's land was platted and real estate boomed. Boasting of being "the shingle capital of the world," the Ballard's timber and fishing jobs drew many new residents, including a large number of immigrants from Scandinavia.

As it grew, the town built a post office in 1889, a city hall in 1899, and a Carnegie library in 1904. The first bridge over Salmon Bay was completed in 1889, allowing for improved commerce and communications with Seattle. Streetcars and ferries were also operational by the 1890s, and an amusement park at Golden Gardens brought pleasure seekers out to the Ballard beach.

When the town incorporated in 1890, it had 1,636 residents. By 1900, its 4,568 residents made it the seventh largest city in Washington, and the population continued to boom, growing to 17,000 by the time of annexation in 1907. Growth was quickly overwhelming the city's ability to provide services, and a safe water supply was a continuing problem. In 1902, Ballard made an agreement with Seattle to tap into its water system, and was using more than 5 million gallons a year. This expenditure was adding to the city's debt, and many citizens believed that the city was becoming unable to sustain itself.

More than the other annexed cities, Ballard was divided on the issue of merging with Seattle. Indeed, in the first annexation vote in 1905, the citizens decided to remain independent. However, enough minds were changed 15 months later that annexation won out on the second vote. Ballard citizens showed their mixed feelings about the change by draping their city hall with black crepe and flying the flag at half mast on the day of annexation.

Cow Petition Cow Petition Cow Petition
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. One pleads that "many will be obliged to sell their cows which in many cases is over half of their living." Another complains about having "20 or 30 cows herded right in our door yard" and charge that "those herd boys use all kinds of profane and obscene language in the presence of women."
Box 4, Folder 28, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files (Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Street scene
Ballard was a city in its own right before
annexation, with many thriving businesses. This photo,
taken around 1890, shows a liquor store
and restaurant in Ballard's business district.
Museum of History & Industry, SHS11816
Ballard City View
This 1902 photo, taken from Queen Anne, gives a
larger view of early Ballard. The early Ballard Bridge
runs across Salmon Bay, lumber mills are in operation,
and forested land is still visible just outside of town.
University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections, A. Curtis 00475
Health officer's report
This report by Ballard's health officer gives a snapshot
of the city's vital statistics in 1900. Births outnumbered
deaths by 4 to 1, and causes of death ranged from
heart failure to consumption and typhoid fever.
Box 3, Folder 33, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files
(Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Smallpox report
Crowded conditions at mill workers' boardinghouses
meant that disease could spread quickly. The manager
of the Hazelton Rooming House here pleads for assistance
in feeding the 20 men in her house who have been
quarantined with smallpox.
Box 2, Folder 28, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files
(Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Ballard sea serpent
Golden Gardens has always been a playground
for Ballard residents, as well as those from
elsewhere in the Seattle area. This group
is shown displaying the "Ballard Sea Serpent" on
the beach of Shilshole Bay around 1910.
Museum of History & Industry, 2001.10.3
Cows grazing
Early Ballard still had many aspects of
rural life, as seen in this circa 1900
photo showing cows grazing near Salmon Bay.
Ballard Historical Society, 002/20030010040
Water Volunteer
Ballard's citizens tried hard to find solutions to
the city's water problem. This writer offers to donate
30 days of labor to help procure a water supply,
"wishing Ballard to be independent in her
water system as in Everything Else."
Box 2, Folder 32, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files
(Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Ballard Seattle water agreement
After years of struggling to find a safe water supply,
Ballard arranged to purchase water from Seattle. This letter
served as a formal request from Ballard's city council
to that of Seattle to consider a contract
of this nature. Given the request for a 20-year franchise,
it seems that the Ballard city council was not
considering annexation at this time.
Box 1, Folder 35, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files
(Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Liquor license
Legend has it Ballard's ordinances decreed
that the number of saloons in the city could not
exceed the number of churches. The taverns that
did exist weren't always to the liking of the
town's citizens. One petition requested denial of a liquor
license renewal to the Pioneer Saloon, located at
First and Shilshole Avenues, saying, "We do not
think there is any question but that this saloon
has been conducted as a resort for low men and women."
Box 4, Folder 27, City of Ballard City Clerk's Files
(Record Series 9106-03), Seattle Municipal Archives
Stimson Mill
After Yesler's Mill was burned in
the 1889 Seattle fire, the area's timber industry
moved north into Ballard. Ballard's
lumber mills provided hundreds of jobs, and
the Stimson Mill was one of the town's largest.
This 1904 photo shows logs being floated
to the mill to be cut into lumber.
University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections, A. Curtis 04259-B

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