Thursday, May 14, 2009

Around Ballard

I’m visiting my college roommate, who lives in the Ballard area of Seattle.

Ballard is an old Nordic fishing town, a place that has been for many years a solid little backwater of sorts – a comfortable place, but generally not very fancy. On the plane I was informed that it’s changed a lot in the past few years and now is a trendy place with lots of condos and fancy boutiques. Now, as Michele and I wander through the old downtown, I see that he is right.

First there is the lovely new library with its soaring spaces and green roof.
It has a Scandinavian feel about it, but in a modern form that the founders of this city might find surprising.

This sense of the old city transforming into something new is evident in many places. It takes the form of funky shops and eclectic ethnic restaurants that line leafy streets. It is a place that nearly begs one to walk.
Of course, Ballard hasn’t changed completely. The strip along the main road still houses a lot of the more marginal businesses and services that have always been there, catering to those who haven’t been able to keep up with the changing scene.

Likewise, though greatly reduced in scale, the fishing industry remains a staple of life here.
The residential areas up hill from downtown haven’t changed much either. . . but that’s a good thing. Here the hillsides are laced with narrow, leafy streets and neat homes surrounded by well-manicured gardens that overflow onto the sidewalk.

I guess I don’t feel too bad to be missing the lilacs back home. . .

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