Sketched April 16 and May 3, 2019
KIRKLAND — An important piece of Puget Sound history frames a unique view of the Seattle skyline from the parking lot of Salty’s restaurant in West Seattle. It’s the wheelhouse of the Kalakala, a 1930s state ferry that transported passengers across Elliott Bay for three decades and became a symbol of the city for its futuristic, art deco design.
I was reminded of this location on my sketching bucket list when I recently stumbled upon other pieces of the Kalakala in Kirkland.
Leaning over a fence next to the city’s public-works maintenance facility by the popular Cross Kirkland Corridor pathway, I could not have mistaken them. I sketched the Kalakala in 2012 when the derelict ship was still all in one piece. Its owner at the time, Steve Rodrigues, tried to raise money to save it — he said it would make a great event venue along the future Seattle waterfront. But his attempts failed and the storied vessel was eventually cut up and sold for scrap.
The art deco ferry was originally built in Kirkland, so it makes sense that the city purchased some pieces. Artists submitted proposals to repurpose them as an art project last year. But city of Kirkland communications director Kellie Stickney recently told me that none were selected and the city is still determining what to do next.
It’s easy to say that a lot of Seattle history is being erased. But the resilience of the Kalakala proves otherwise. As long as these pieces are preserved, its memory will live on.