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WHAT DOES “FREE BALLARD” MEAN?

Archie McPhee was formerly located in a neighborhood of Seattle called Ballard. One hundered years ago, Ballard was a thriving, self-governing city. It had it’s own City Hall and provided all necessary services to its citizens. In fact, Ballard rivaled Seattle in size and economic activity with its profitable logging, fishing and maritime industries as well as being the world’s largest manufacturer of shingles.

Then, Seattle decided it wanted to absorb Ballard. Flush with money from the gold rush, Seattle was expansion obsessed and decided that it would take advantage of Ballard’s inability to provide its own water.

On October 28, 1906, the Seattle Times said, "The Times wants every suburb skirting the boundaries of Seattle annexed before the next census in 1910…The Times will favor and aid financially any scheme that will bring these suburbs into the greater city. We say again that we do not care what the method may be to secure the annexation of these seven suburbs, but they must be annexed at any cost."

Through tricks and sabotage Seattle finagled the citizens of Ballard to vote for annexation. It is rumored that agents from Seattle threw a dead horse into the Ballard waterworks which made the water undrinkable and stinky. Also, the vote was scheduled at a time when the fishermen were out at sea and the promise of Seattle’s stricter drinking laws appealed to those left behind.

On May 29, 1907, Ballard reluctantly became part of Seattle. On that day, the citizens flew their flags at half mast and draped the city hall in black crepe.

Today "Free Ballard" has become the rallying cry not just for those that want to secede from Seattle, but also those that want to preserve the unique flavor of Ballard and stop overdevelopment. As a proud former Ballard business, we stand with the people of Ballard in their struggle.

Free Ballard! Down With Seattle Hegemony!

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