I’ve been completely obsessed with Ballard since I ran across a New York Times article that discussed the quirkiness of it and Fremont. I can’t be certain if it was the picture of a woman enjoying the Farmers Market in a witches’ hat, the cloudy skies, or something else entirely, but I decided in that moment—if I ever moved to Seattle I’d live in Ballard.
At first, as I hopped off the bus, Ballard was a bit rougher around the edges than I anticipated. During my walk down to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks along Market Street, I passed storage facilities, gas stations, repair shops, and boat yards, nothing akin to the quaint and charming downtown I had so long envisioned. I forgot about that roughness the moment I got to the Locks.
Along the locks you feel more like you’re in the middle of England than you Seattle. A lock was honestly not something I had ever really thought about when I thought of Seattle or the Pacific Northwest. But, it’s fascinating to watch it in action—an elevator for boats is how the signs describe the system. Even cooler is that the Locks–built almost 100 years ago–are still maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Engineering aside it’s just pleasant. Between the water and the neighboring gardens, it was a perfect place to rest my legs for a bit and watch the seagulls line-up. Again, as with so much I saw during the trip, it was disgustingly beautiful.
When I headed back to the center of Ballard, I made sure to find the quaint charming streets. It’s pretty hard to miss. Block after block of cute local boutiques, restaurants, bars. Tree lined streets. It set it in stone: if I move to Seattle, I’m living in Ballard.
What shocked me the most about Ballard is how much it doesn’t feel like you’re in Seattle. You feel like you’re in a small town far from a major city. It’s a town within a town, and I think that’s part of what makes it so special. You can easily be at home here, with everything you need and want, but hop on the bus for 30 minutes and you’re in the heart downtown Seattle—all the while never actually leaving the City.