Heart Bomb Hattie’s Hat

Ballard Adams Hatties Hat

Ballard Historical Society plans to Heart Bomb Hattie’s Hat, the oldest continuously running Ballard Restaurant, on February 14 at 8:00 AM and you’re invited!

What is Heart Bombing?

Heart Bombing is a form of advocacy, a fun and creative way to bring people together and raise awareness about what’s cherished in a community — places both safe and threatened — with homemade valentines that serve as a sort of love letter to places that matter. This February, groups and individuals across the country will be heart bombing the places that matter to them.

Heart Bomb with the Ballard Historical Society!

To join in, craft up a valentine and join your neighbors at Hattie’s Hat, 5231 Ballard Ave NW in Old Ballard, at 8:00 AM on February 14. They’ll snap a picture, and share on social media using #HeartBombSEA and #IHeartSavingPlaces to be part of the local and nationwide love fest!

Not crafty? No worries! Ballard Historical Society will have ready-made Valentines for you to use, if you’d like.


Then & Now: 612-618 NW 65th Street

Then & Now: NE corner of 7th Ave NW & NW 65th

While the actual month this photo was taken is unknown, I believe it may have been taken in June or July of 1937. During the 1930s the West Woodland Commercial Club would host a neighborhood event called “Klondike Days”. This two day event would include a parade, with floats and marching bands, as well as games of chance, live music and dancing. The streets would be dressed with decorations, including banners and streamers, which can be clearly seen in this photo. More on “Klondike Days” in a later post.

In 1937, 618 NW 65th Street was home to the West Woodland Pharmacy (today soon-to-open JOLI SEATTLE). Directly east of the pharmacy was Hansen’s Barber Shop at 616 NW 65th Street (today BaBaLouise Salon). West Woodland Dry Goods, at 612 NW 65th Street, shared their double store front with the US Post Office (today The Sneakery).

You can also see the Woodland Tavern (today Molly Maguires) and the Woodland Theater’s marque in this picture (today Advance Sign Design, Jigsaw Records & the new Woodland Theater performance space). The movie playing that day at the Woodland Theater was “Klondike Annie” staring Mae West.

This retail space was built in 1926 and has remained largely intact. There have been changes to the exterior facade, as well as window and door placement, but the footprint of the building remains the same.

The black & white photo, courtesy the Puget Sound Archives, shows the NE corner of 7th Ave NW & NW 65th in 1937.



Heart Bomb Ballard This Valentine’s Day


Ballard Historical Society would like to invite you to join us for the Heart Bomb Project that the Nat’l Trust for Historic Preservation does each Valentine’s Day.  People all over the Nation are encouraged to stand in front of a building they love holding homemade heart valentine signs, snap a photo and then post them on social media with a hashtag to connect them all for exposure.  We have some pix of us at the Ballard Bell Tower last year on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BallardHistory/

Also, here’s some photos from the whole Nation’s participation: https://savingplaces.org/stories/heart-bomb-2016-spread-the-love-for-historic-places#.WH-kFVzCuQw

This year at 8am on Valentine’s Day, we’d like to stand in front of the Sunset Hill CC (3003 NW 66th St, Seattle, WA 98117) to snap our photo!  We hope you will join us for a quick pic!  We have about 10 signs already created, but we’d love if you wanted to bring your own valentines as well.

Questions?  Contact: President@ballardhistory.org

A look back at Nix Auto Wrecking & Ballard’s Gasoline Alley

You won’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign when you drive by 1400 NW Leary Way, but the long-time home of Nix Auto Wrecking, built in 1928, is on the market for $2.1 million. The lot is in Ballard’s old “Gasoline Alley” and was already home to a junk yard when it was purchased by Edward Prestek in 1939.  After retiring from his business in 1974, Nix Auto Wrecking was passed to his stepson Gerald Murphy, who is the current property owner.

Nix Auto Wrecking is a hold out of sorts, with nearby neighbors like Trader Joe’s, Quest Church, and Office Max, it is hard to believe that this area was once considered NW Seattle’s scrapheap for totaled cars, old tires, and more.  It is the last of it’s kind in the West Woodland, Ballard neighborhood and will be the end of an era once sold and the lot cleared for development.

An article dated February 26, 1996 in the Seattle Times, three days after Prestek had passed away at the age of 83, gives us an idea of how much Prestek enjoyed sales. (Edward Prestek – Feb 1996)

Once in the 1950s, Murphy said, Mr. Prestek sold the transmission of a junker he usually drove back and forth to work.  Unfortunately, he had no way to get home that evening so – always the improviser – he picked the only other junker that was driveable.

The car’s transmission was bad – only the reverse gear worked.  No matter. Mr. Prestek drove the car home backwards, from Ballard to the Shoreline area, and backwards to Ballard the next morning.”

Another great story in the Seattle Times, dated September 12, 1965, details a reoccurring theft issue at Nix Auto Wrecking. Playful high-jinx, or perhaps something more sinister, the article doesn’t share much more.

Nix Auto Wrecking - Theft

Time To Clean-Up:

Scrolling through the Seattle Municipal Archives (SMA), you will find at least 45 photos related to Nix Auto Wrecking violations.  At the time, Nix Auto Wrecking was storing cars on property and public streets from the Ballard Bridge, west on Leary, all the way to NW 47th Street.  The volume of cars is astounding to look at in the photos.

The city documented the violations with photographs that are surprising to look at.  Junk cars line the street and are left on the side walks and median.  For a pedestrian attempting to stay out of traffic, you would have to avoid the area all together, perhaps walking blocks out of your way just to use a clear sidewalk.

Below are three “Then & Now” photo groupings, looking east, from near the corner of NW 47th Street and Leary Way.


NW 47th and Leary - 1961 and 2016

Looking east from near the corner of NW 47th Street and Leary way.  In the background, right side, you can see the auto garage that would become the home of Redhook Brewery in 1981.  Now & Then pairing above, 1961 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #66603.


NW 47th and Leary - 1962 and 2016 (02).jpg

Looking east from near the corner of NW 47th Street and Leary way.  Now & Then pairing above, 1962 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #71267.


NW 47th and Leary - 1962 and 2016

Looking east from near the corner of NW 47th Street and Leary way.  Now & Then pairing above, 1962 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #71262.

Below are four “Then & Now” photo groupings, from near the corner of 14th Ave NW and NW Leary Way.


14th Ave NW and Leary - 1951 and 2016

Looking west from near the corner of 14th Ave NW and NW Leary way.  Now & Then pairing above, 1951 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #42552.


14th Ave NW and Leary - 1962 and 2016

Looking west from near the corner of 14th Ave NW and NW Leary way.  Now & Then pairing above, 1962 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #71266.


14th Ave NW and Leary - 1961 and 2016

Looking northwest from near the corner of 14th Ave NW and NW Leary Way. Now & Then pairing above, 1961 & 2016. Photo courtesy SMA, Item #66606.


14th Ave NW and Leary - 1962 and 2016 - looking NE

Looking northwest from near the corner of 14th Ave NW and NW Leary way.  Now & Then pairing above, 1962 & 2016.  Photo courtesy SMA, Item #71260.

As I mentioned before, there were 45 photos available online showing areas around NW Leary Way from 1948 – 1962.  If you would like to see all of them, check out Seattle Municipal Archives online and use search term “Nix Auto”.  Click HERE to search.




The Nostalgia Edition: A ride through the old neighborhood

02Enjoy one woman’s wonderful bicycle ride through Ballard & her care-free memories of growing up in the West Woodland Neighborhood at 6050 6th Ave NW.


This post really needs a more comprehensive title than just the usual “date + ride” formula. So much takes place in it — it’s a veritable cornucopia of rideblog news.

As many of my 12 avid readers know, The Raleigh has been out of commission for the last eight weeks, due to a broken saddle. My Industry Connection, the delightful D., has been trying to order me a new Brooks ever since. Where she works doesn’t carry Brooks saddles, and the US supplier has been out of stock the entire time. They kept telling her “next week,” then the next week… still out. Finally, I caved and went to buy a saddle locally for the normal price. When I called to tell her this news, she was out. I received a cryptic text a few moments after I hung up that read only: “Drunk in Napa.” Perhaps this explains much, perhaps not.

View original post 2,013 more words

Commemorating 418 NW 65th Street

Share Your Memories – A West Woodland neighborhood history enthusiast is creating an anthology of memories commemorating 418 NW 65th Street and needs your help.

The announcement yesterday regarding the sale of 412-418 NW 65th Street saddened many in the neighborhood. In response, the blogger behind Vintage West Woodland (https://vintagewestwoodland.wordpress.com/) is creating an anthology of memories to commemorate the businesses that once called this address home.

You’re invited to submit your stories, essays, photographs, and art featuring your experiences at these businesses, including 418 Public House, Reading Gaol Pub & Grill, Hagar’s, and more.

Memories will be shared on Vintage West Woodland for neighbors to enjoy! Interested in participating in this project? Please email your stories, essays, photos, and more by July 28, 2016 to westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting this project!


Canal Substation: A Closer Look

About 40,000 neighbors in Seattle were recently in the dark due to a raccoon “de-energizing” the Canal Substation.  De-energizing is Seattle City Light’s way of saying something caused a loss of power in the electric grid.  RIP raccoon.

Until the power outage, I hadn’t thought much about our neighborhood substation.  It had simply been an odd colored government structure tucked in the southend of the neighborhood. I didn’t know how many residents relied on the substation, or the building’s backstory. What I’ve discovered since the outage is that these two Ballard blocks hold several secrets waiting to be discover!

Location & History:

Canal Substation is located on 8th Ave NW, taking up two city blocks between NW 46th Street & NW 45th Street. It’s on the north side of 45th, making it part of the West Woodland neighborhood, with Fremont across the street.  I still wish locals called this area the Ross neighborhood.  Keep the memory alive!

google map

Pink area is West Woodland, Ballard and grey area is Fremont.  Courtesy Google Maps.

The Puget Sound Power & Light Company constructed this transmission substation in 1928 as part of their private electric utility operations within the City of Seattle. It is the only transmission substation, of the original three constructed by Puget Sound Power & Light Company, still in existence and operation.  Today, Canal Substation is part of public powered Seattle City Light.  The previous owner, Puget Sound Power & Light, is doing business as Puget Sound Energy, providing electric and natural gas service throughout much of Western Washington.

With its mixture of Mission Revival and Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features, the architecturally distinctive Canal Substation is significant for its design and for its associations with the era of privately owned electric utilities in Seattle.  It also stands as a reminder of the evolution of Seattle City Light as the sole supplier of electric power in the area. The Canal Substation has been included on the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods list of Seattle Historical Sites.

1960 view - from Seattle city light FB page

The photo above of Canal Substation, with the Ballard Bridge in the background, is dated 1960 and courtesy Seattle City Light. An approximate current view of this same location, near the corner of 3rd Ave NW and NW 48th Street, can be found HERE.

Canal Substation Edible Landscape & Art: 

Noah-CL86.046.03a-g_CROPThe station had a major remodel in the mid 1980s and the large switch yard and adjacent building were painted in unusual colors for a substation – mostly pastels. As required by City of Seattle ordinance, 1 % of the cost was for art that was incorporated into the project.

Visit the substation after dark and you’ll see some of the “activities” happening inside through the softly glowing windows. Six back-lit silhouettes in the large upper-story windows are part of Barbara Noah’s artwork Forms of Power, created in 1986.

For Forms of Power, Noah painted images of allegories of power on windows made of sandblasted, multi-colored translucent Plexiglas. The hand signs of the game rock-paper-scissors, representing physical power, are painted on three orange windows. A pink window shows a couple about to kiss, symbolizing the power of love. A scientist conducting experiments represents the power of the mind. And in a green window, a blindfolded figure with outstretched arms, evoking traditional representations of justice, stands for the power of the law. This visual play subtly alludes to the factors that impact the daily lives in the homes and businesses that depend on the Canal Substation for power.

Sitework by GAYNOR plays off the art with striped paving evoking former rail lines, edible ‘hedgerows’, checkerboard of colorful ‘walkable’ herb groundcovers, delicate-to-dense ‘living’ fence, salvaged substation lightning arrester stands repurposed as benches, observation hill and interpretive signage. The project was completed in 1986, with approximately $220,000 spent for landscape and site improvements.

More information regarding the artistic aspects of the redesign available HERE.

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