Polish Town, Girl Attorney & the World War II Nisei Hero: Unravelling Ballard’s Past

What happens when you find oral histories from early Ballardites on tape cassettes in a basement, and decide they need to become part of a multi-media map? Tune in on February 17, 2022 at 7:00 pm to find out. This is an online event, access link HERE.

Inside Ballard’s Bardahl: A Guided Tour

Explore the headquarters of this automotive empire and meet legendary race car driver Al Young.  Full details below, courtesy Atlas Obscura.

bardahl ballard west woodland 2016-08-30 10.35.45

Join Al Young and the team at Bardahl for this exciting, first-of-its-kind tour of the Seattle Bardahl headquarters.

Operating in the heart of old Ballard for over 80 years, the Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation has helped fuel the world. Founded by Norwegian immigrant Ole Bardahl, who came to Seattle in 1922 with just 26 dollars to his name, Bardahl blossomed into a motor oil company that led the industry by the 1950s and continues to this day. Known for engaging, mob-style advertising campaigns featuring menacing characters such as “Dirty Sludge” and “Sticky Valves”, and its iconic neon sign that has held court in the Ballard skyline for decades, Bardahl remains a family owned and operated company with deep roots in racing, including the NASCAR and Grand Prix Formula One circuits. In Seattle, Bardahl helped morph the Green Lake Aqua Follies into the Seafair spectacle on Lake Washington, where the Miss Bardahl boat dominated the hydroplane races for years.

One of our hosts for this event will be National Hot Rod Association Hall of Fame drag race driver Al Young. We’ll watch products being bottled on the line in the historical plant, see a vast collection of trophies, photos, and artifacts from Bardahl history, and observe the lab where company engineers continue to innovate. Then we’ll watch Race: The Al Young Story, a short documentary about Al’s career as the first Asian-American World Champion race car driver and the obstacles he overcame to get there. Finally, we’ll join Al as he shows us one of his race cars, his world famous ’73 Plymouth Roadrunner, which will be brought to Bardahl for the occasion.

Participants will be able to see and sit in the car, enjoy the opportunity to take photos, and take home a collectible GreenLight toy replica of Al’s championship Dodge Challenger, signed by Al himself.


  • There is free street parking in the area, but it is highly competitive. Plan accordingly and consider taking public transportation.
  • With the exception of viewing the film, where we will be seated, this is a walking tour. The area is mostly flat but will include a few staircases. There is no elevator.


Email Tamara Bunnell at tamara.bunnell@atlasobscura.com.

Stay connected! Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Society Seattle newsletter and join  our Facebook group for a first glimpse at upcoming events.

Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.

Click Here To Purchase Tickets!

Oral History Project–Storytellers Wanted

SMA - 435_014 - Worlds Fair - Ballard West WoodlandDo you remember the Seattle World’s Fair? If so, Jeanne Kohl-WellesKing County Councilmember – District 4, wants to hear from you! Her team is working on a project and they would appreciate having interested individuals interviewed on camera to recollect old times around the working title, “The 1962 World’s Fair — What Did the Neighbors Think??” There are fantastic productions around the major players and the bigger picture, but none around how the Fair impacted the lives of those closest to it—residents in and around District 4, which includes Ballard.

Space and time for this project are limited, so if you have stories to share, they are excited to hear them! The interview will be taped in the KCTV studio at the King County Courthouse in Pioneer Square.

Please contact Kohl-Welles’ Chief of Staff, Adam Cooper, at adam.cooper@kingcounty.gov or 206.477.3763 to get involved in this exciting and fun effort. When the final product is complete, the project will be posted so you can all see and hear our neighbors’ views of this critical part of County history.

World’s Fair Souvenir Program, shown above, courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, IDENTIFIER: 435_014.

War Garden Park

Updated: January 2022

Located at the corner of North 50th Street and Phinney Ave North, War Garden Park is losing its cannons. The Seattle Department of Recreation put out a notice that the two cannons from the U.S.S. Concord commemorating veterans of the Spanish-American War would be removed. You can read the full notice HERE, and a screenshot has been provided below.

SPR Announcement 05 19 2019

Here are pictures of one of the guns that will be removed.  Dated, April 29, 2017.

Phinney War Garden 04 wm

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From the Woodland Park Zoo:

History of the park as detailed by the Woodland Park Zoo is available online at http://www.zoo.org/about/chronologicalhistory and below.

1914: On January 23rd, the southwest corner of WPZ, later known as the War Garden, was dedicated to the veterans of the Spanish-American War. Two Civil War-era barge howitzers (small wheeled field pieces) were added to the existing naval guns that had been placed there in 1911. A plaque made of metal from the USS Maine was set there as well, to honor the personnel of the USS Illinois. It is not clear why the Illinois was specifically honored.

1924: A statue, “The Hiker,” portraying a Spanish-American infantryman, was placed in the War garden (the southwest corner of the park near N. 50th St. and Phinney Ave. N.)

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From The SunBreak:

The SunBreak does a great job of detailing the history of each piece of war memorabilia located in the park, including the plaques shown below. Access the story here: http://thesunbreak.com/2013/06/08/7-odd-things-to-see-in-seattle-parks-north-end-edition/7 or Odd Things to See in Seattle Parks (North End Edition) – The SunBreak, created using web.archive.org.

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From HistoryLink:

Learn more about Seattle’s connection to the Spanish-American War from HistoryLink.org.

  1. First Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment Muster for the Spanish-American War on May 1, 1898: http://historylink.org/File/5526
  2. Spanish-American War Volunteers return to Seattle on November 6, 1899: http://www.historylink.org/File/2051

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West Woodland Wizards Circa 1950

ww 1950 - 5.jpg

Photo #1: West Woodland School, 7th Grade Class, June 1950.  

Several years ago, I reached out to Seattle Public Schools asking about old school photos.  I was hoping they would have a storage room full of dusty boxes containing old class photos and pictures of events that had long been forgotten.  Maybe they would let me dig through them and scan a few to share online.  I was excited to find out that not only did they have photos, the school district also had a dedicated archives department.

Score one for historic preservation!

Through email I was introduced to Aaren Purcell, who works in the archive department scanning and cataloging these treasures. The photos are a genuine joy to look at, and occasionally the district will post to their Facebook page.  Purcell was so kind to share a few school photos, which I have posted below.

Most of the photos include some student names, but the scanner face isn’t large enough to include the whole document and some of the names have been cut off.  If you recognize a classmate, brother, sister, or neighbor, please comment below and include the photo number and a general description of where they are standing.  You can also email westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Let’s talk about the 7th Grade photo at the top of this page.

Paul Siqueland 1950 ballard West WoodlandI first shared this photo on Facebook and, as a result, was contacted by the daughter of one of the children pictured, Paul Siqueland.  Turns out that Paul once lived in my home.  His parents bought this little Ballard brick after WWII.  Paul’s father served as a medical corpsman during World War I, then a chaplain with combat units in new Guinea during World War II. Read his father’s full obituary here.

Another daughter of Paul’s came by the house and shared many happy memories of her time spent playing in the yard.  She was pleasantly surprised to find out we hadn’t remodeled, and the house looked pretty much like it did during her childhood.  The pink kitchen paint has long been covered, but all the burgundy tile is still intact.  Her Grandmother would be happy.

Here are a few more school photos, courtesy Seattle Public Schools.  Do you recognize anyone pictured?  Let us know!  Comment below, or email westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Double click on photos to enlarge.

Photo #2: West Woodland School, Dated 1949

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Photo #3: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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Photo #4: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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Photo #5: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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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.

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