“Why do you do all this research?” I have been asked this question many times while out walking in the neighborhood. The short answer is that I love history. All of it. I especially love history that is personal to me, like a family tree, or my neighborhoods historic past.
Learning about our community, the present and the past, helps to uncover the rich and often diverse history that is all around us. Historic homes and buildings are a visual connection between us and the people who once lived and worked in them. Knowing the history of our neighborhood grounds us to our community and supports the creation of a neighborhood identity. In short, history helps us grow roots.
Cass O’Callaghan, Ballard Historical Society (BHS) Board Member, shared a book with me that propelled much of my West Woodland Neighborhood research. In celebration of Ballard’s Centennial the BHS wrote “Passport to Ballard”, a comprehensive history of the City of Ballard. This book provides a detailed look at the once independent city and does an amazing job of helping to illuminate the cities soul.
While the West Woodland Neighborhood was annexed into the City of Seattle in 1891, 16 years prior to Ballard’s annexation, the original residents of West Woodland often worked and shopped in Ballard. The stories in “Passport to Ballard” illustrate the challenges these pioneers faced as they helped build our neighborhood and the NW corner of Seattle.