2012 Curbed Cup winner Ballard last made it to the finals just last year—so it’s no surprise it’s in the Final Four this year. But how will they do against the Central District?
Both neighborhoods are undergoing a lot of changes, with new apartments and townhouses sprouting up every which way. Ballard, specifically, has become known for its bar scene within its vintage brick commercial center, boasting newer spots like Barnacle among more classic joints like the Smoke Shop and Hattie’s Hat (“Ballard’s Last Stand”!).
As Ballard grows, so does its popularity. But it clings to its heritage as a Nordic fishing village.
“What makes Ballard so great is not what is happening today but that its rich history is still alive and well,” said Anndrea Dunning, marketing and membership manager at Ballard Alliance, writing in to nominate the neighborhood. “Ballard remains culturally rich with its hardworking Nordic roots. Small businesses rule in Ballard and we have a close-knit community of business owners and entrepreneurs. It truly is a small town.”
The proximity to the water makes it still a hub of maritime industry—but also a big draw for others. Ballard includes the long expanse of beach at Golden Gardens Park and marine access to the Sound via the Hiram Chittenden Locks.
The Central District, like Ballard, is a neighborhood with working-class roots that’s undergone a whole lot of change—and gained a lot of new townhouses—in the past decade or so. And like Ballard, it’s a neighborhood with a ton of old favorites, like the original Ezell’s and Cafe Selam, mingling with popular new haunts, like Central Cinema, the Neighbor Lady, Cortona Cafe, and Chuck’s Hop Shop.
But how that change is manifesting—and how the neighborhood is responding—is a story unique to the CD. The neighborhood is centered in a lot of conversations about gentrification and displacement in the city. The community went from 73 percent black in the 1970s—a product of a legacy of redlining that forced black residents into specific neighborhoods—to less than 20 percent today.
Some community members are working to harness that growth into more opportunity: Liberty Bank Building and Africatown Plaza, both community-led projects with affordable housing and space for small businesses. Black Dot, now in its second location, provides space for entrepreneurs of color to build their businesses.
The CD also has its share of community celebrations and arts festivals, from Umoja Fest parade to Tuf Fest.
We could run the Curbed Cup on gorgeous outdoor space alone, and the Central District has its share. Judkins Park is massive and full of spots to gather and play. Homer Harris Park is a tinier spot with a big view. The Spruce Street Mini Park is packed with family fun.
Which neighborhood should advance this week? This poll closes Friday, December 29 at 12:15, so get those votes in. (Not seeing the poll? Try exiting Apple News or Google Amp.)