Seattle Travel Blog

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I spent today walking around Ballard. The weather was beautiful outside after a few bitterly cold weeks, so it was a good chance to explore Seattle.

Ballard was once a Norwegian fishing village, but it was quickly incorporated into Seattle. Apparently there are still lots of people with Scandinavian descent that live there (explaining all the blond hair), and the style of the neighbourhood was quite different with more Nordic style houses.

I walked up to the Nordic Heritage Museum. The museum with pretty much full of kitsch and old tools, but there were some interesting parts to it. It is really interesting to think back to what drove immigrants to come to America. The exhibits spoke about "peace, vaccination and the potato" increasing the Scandinavian population in the 1700s, just in time for war to rip apart Europe in the late 1700s during a famine. So immigrants were driven out by poverty and social inequity, and lured to America with dreams of "streets paved with candy". 10% of Scandinavia immigrated to the US in just a few decades. They used to sell everything they had for the ticket over, the exhibit showed a case of luggage which consisted only of carpenter tools, a guide book, a Bible, and two silver spoons (all left from their grandmother's set after buying their tickets). Must have been a rude shock to have been inspected at Ellis Island and then dumped in New York to be preyed upon by touts and exploited by companies.

Still, considering the state of Europe at the time, being given miserable pay to work in fishing and logging probably did seem like the socialist paradise they expected, simply because of the volume of unexploited resources available to fuel social mobility. And considering how the hard work of the European immigrants transformed the continent, it seems offensive that now the anti-immigrant feeling is so strong in their descendants, with so much anger at Mexicans who want to enter the country under exactly the same pressures of poverty in their homeland, and with exactly the same ideals of hard work. Ironic that now Scandinavia is the bastion of freedom and social equality.

Another thing that I learnt is the Danish practise of the Roofing Supper. This was held by building contractors once the rafters where built on a house, a big feast to reward the builders before the next set of builders (plumbers and so forth) finished off the house. All the contractors had to have a Roofing Supper or the workers would put up a Dead Mason - originally a straw dummy tied to the roof to warn other workers the contractor was stingy, later a few concealed bottles in the wall-space or a brick hanging from the rafters by a rope so that the house would sound haunted when the wind blew. While the practise died out in Danish immigrants in the US, it is still common in Denmark.

I really love living in Fremont, Delibertas Quirkas, and being able to visit neighbourhoods with real character and a local history. Such a shame to see suburbs being built as clones, no history or unique features (laughable considering the woman recently fined for putting up a peace sign, since her neighbours complained it was a symbol of Satan and offensive). Local character and richness appears to be slowly draining from so many areas, to be replaced with the generic American culture.
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Seattle Sights & Attractions review
Ballard is an interesting neighbourhood of Seattle. It used to be a Norwegian fishing village, but has long since been incorporated into Seattle. Ter… read entire review
photo by: diisha392