It’s no surprise that 2012 Curbed Cup champion Ballard made it to the Elite Eight. But how will it fare against West Seattle, competing as one big neighborhood for the first time?
It’s currently popular for having its own small-town vibe—created by the Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, and Shilshoe Bay boundaries—with easy access to the city. But its identity grew out of its roots as a blue-collar, Scandanavian marine town, annexed by the city in 1907. And it stayed a blue-collar marine neighborhood until a real estate boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Still, nods to that identity remain, like in annual cultural celebrations like Norwegian independence Day and even Ballard Seafood Fest. And it’s the area’s proximity to the water that still makes it a major draw, like the long expanse of beach at Golden Gardens Park, or the marine access to the Sound via the Hiram Chittenden Locks.
Still, there’s no denying that Ballard has gone through a whole lot of changes, with brand-new nightlife and restaurants taking up residence next to old classics like the Tractor and Sunset taverns—and even older classics like the Smoke Shop and Hattie’s Hat, which bills itself as “Ballard’s Last Stand.”
For those just joining us, Ballard is also notable as the site of the Edith Macefield House, the beloved The Little House or Up-style holdout nestled in the Ballard Blocks development, and the tattoo shop that’s been inking a shape of the home on residents.
West Seattle is similarly off the beaten path—although instead of crossing the Ship Canal to get there, you cross the Duwamish Waterway. And because of this water separation, it has a lot of things going for it that Ballard does: Long stretches of gorgeous beach, including some in the area’s park space like Lincoln Park and Alki Beach. Homegrown amenities are collected into walkable pockets, most notably in The Junction.
The Junction is the closest thing West Seattle has to a downtown, and is also the home of the West Seattle Farmers Market (and Harvest Festival) and West Seattle Summerfest. These things have both scaled along with recent growth and only gotten more popular over the past decade or so.
Also like Ballard, West Seattle has a mixture of long-running local businesses and new favorites. Local favorite ice cream Husky Deli thrives less than a block away from a relatively new Cupcake Royale. The original Easy Street Records has grown from the neighborhood record store to that plus a beloved brunch joint. While classic old dives like the Alki Tavern and Benbow Room have shuttered, new favorites have taken their place—literally, in the case of Admiral’s Vidiot.
This is a neighborhood full of its own neighborhoods, from the Junction to North Admiral, from Alki to Delridge, from Fauntleroy to Arbor Heights. None of these sub-neighborhoods have made it very far in the Curbed Cup on their own—this is as far as the Junction or Alki has made it in years past—but by their powers combined, they beat Belltown pretty handily last week. Will they keep it up this time around?
Which neighborhood should advance this week? This poll closes Thursday, December 21 at 2:30 p.m., so get those votes in. (Not seeing the poll? Try exiting Apple News or Google Amp.)