Seattle Beginnings: Ballard Post Office opens on August 22, 1889.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 12/13/1998
  • Essay 521

On August 22, 1889, the Ballard Post Office opens. Abraham G. Thompson is the first postmaster. On January 31, 1908, some months after the city of Ballard is annexed to Seattle, the post office becomes a branch of the main Seattle post office. Ballard is located five miles north of the business district of Seattle on the north side of Salmon Bay.

In May 1888, the area that became Ballard was an enormous 700 acre (1.1 square miles) subdivision called Gilman Park. It was platted by the West Coast Improvement Company managed by Captain W. R. Ballard. The following year, when the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway constructed a railroad spur to the development, the station was named Ballard.

In November 1890, the town of Ballard was incorporated with a mayor and city council. Just three years after the post office was established, the 1892 Polk Gazetteer gave the following description of the flourishing town:

"An electric street railway connects the place with Seattle. Ballard contains Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, three saw mills and three shingle mills, two ship yards, a sash and door factory, a large foundry, water works, commodious hotels, and electric light system, good schools, finely improved streets, many substantial buildings, 2000 inhabitants and a bright weekly newspaper" (Oregon, Washington and Idaho Gazetteer 1892).

By 1901, Ballard had turned into a major manufacturing town boasting of "more shingles being produced here daily than in any other city in the world." It also had sawmills, shipyards, foundries, and boiler works. Three weekly newspapers served a claimed population of 5,500.


Guy Reed Ramsey, "Postmarked Washington, 1850-1960," Microfilm (Olympia: Washington State Library, February, 1966), 622; Edmond S. Meany, Origin of Washington Geographic Names (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1923); R. L. Polk & Co., Oregon, Washington and Idaho Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1891-92 (Portland, OR: R. L. Polk & Co., 1892); R.L. Polk & Co., Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1901-1902 (n.c.: R. L. Polk & Co., 1901).

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