Luke McGuff (holyoutlaw) wrote,
Luke McGuff

Layers of Development

One of the classes I'm taking at Antioch this quarter is called "Drawing on the Landscape." One of the early readings pointed out that landscape used to have a connotation of something we had a hand in, there was an aspect of shaping to it. Words for landscape in other European languages still contain that meaning.

What the class has opened my eyes to is the layers of development that I see in Ballard. Even to very mundane details, like styles of wheelchair access ramp.

Access Ramp
For instance, this style is from the 70s or 80s, and is just cement with a slightly roughened surface. Newer wheelchair access ramps have a rubber mat with a knubbly surface.

On my block, there are five different periods of building and rebuilding.

Old Ballard Street Signs
This is one of the Old Ballard Street Signs, which long term readers may remember I've been fascinated by since moving into the area. I have a pretty complete set of pictures of the various signs. I don't know if the signs along 20th Ave. are from before the annex. They look so old, they could be.

Orginal Housing
This house was built in 1910. On the left side of the picture, you can see the side of another house built in 1901. They're the last two single family homes on this block and are the two oldest buildings by several decades. The entire block was probably full of houses like this.

Laura Maye Apartments
This apartment building at 22nd Ave. and 59th St. (address is on 22nd Ave.) was built in 1928, before cars started dominating building and street design. It was retrofitted (I think) with an underground garage at some point. The sidewalk surrounds the trees and has been massively torn up by them.

1960s Apartment Buildings
The next big phase of development was from 1963 to 1969, when a number of apartment buildings were built along the street. This picture shows the building Julie and I live in. Notice how car centered the design is: The parking strips have been removed so the entire front of the building can function as a driveway. The entrances are on the side, turned away from the street. Whatever trees may have been in front of the houses have been removed, making the street very bright and echoey.

Aerial View of 59th St.
This aerial view of 59th St. (from Google maps) can give an idea of how much green was replaced by the apartment building construction. The two buildings on the far right of the image are the oldest free-standing houses. The next seven buildings, going to the left (which is west), are apartments built in the 1960s.

In 1978 and 1979, two more apartments and a building that's now a condo were built, but I don't have pictures of them. They feature the same car-centered design, with front driveways and mostly impermeable lots, and there isn't much to distinguish them from the buildings built in the 1960s. (In fact, until I looked them up on the King County assessor's website, I didn't realize they'd been built later than the other apartment buildings.)

Most Recent Redevelopment
Finally in 2006 and 2007, we get some infill townhouses. But even though the entrance is in the front, note the high fence that still removes the entrance from the street. Also note the large driveway separating the buildings and leading to the back. There's still a lot of impermeable surface.

What I think this shows is that Ballard has had pressure for density for quite a long time. You could probably chart the cycles of building alongside times of ecnomic boom and bust for the city. Hopefully my curiousity about this will last longer than the quarter. ;>

  • New terms of service

    Because of the new terms of service, I am deleting my LiveJournal permanently.

  • Book Notes

    Only two books in February -- guess I was hit more strongly by malaise than I thought. Also, i was sick for a week. Four Modern Prophets William M.…

  • YESC Seattle at Golden Gardens

    About 25-30 high school students from YESC Seattle ( YMCA Earth Services Corps) joined us at Golden Gardens on Saturday, Jan. 30. We removed ivy…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened