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August 20, 2015

Kirkland wants to turn pieces from Kalakala ferry into art

Photo by the city of Kirkland [enlarge]
The city paid $60,000 for parts of the iconic ferry, which was built in Kirkland.

Kirkland is asking for ideas on how to turn about 30 pieces of the old Kalakala ferry into public art.

You can go to http://tiny.cc/1od71x through Aug. 31 to make a suggestion. Responses will be sent to a citizen committee that is exploring art concepts and locations. The goal is to commemorate the historic ferry and Kirkland's history as a regional shipbuilding center.

The 276-foot ferry was built in 1935 at Lake Washington Shipyards, which is now Carillon Point in Kirkland.

The city paid about $60,000 earlier this year for pieces of the Kalakala, including the wheelhouse, portholes, car doors, railings, rudder rim and window frames.

The citizen committee and the public have already tossed out a few ideas: integrate the pieces into a city project, make them an interactive part of an outdoor museum or create an installation that reflects the bulbous shape and scale of the ferry.

The Kalakala began service in 1935 and carried cars across Puget Sound until 1967. In the days before the Space Needle, the silver art deco style vessel was the postcard symbol of Seattle, according to the Associated Press.

Later the ferry was used for fish processing in Alaska and then returned to Puget Sound, but plans to restore it never generated with enough money. The ferry was demolished this year, with some pieces saved for souvenirs.

Christian Knight, a Kirkland neighborhood services coordinator, wrote on a city web page in March that Rhine Demolition, the company that dismantled the ferry, received nearly 250 requests to purchase parts.

The pieces are in rough shape, Knight wrote. “The essence is twisted and dented, with jagged edges, where workers cut it from the Kalakala. The floor of the wheelhouse is flaking. Clumps of rust coat the valve wheels.”

The city will spend $20,000 to develop a plan for art on the Cross Kirkland Corridor, a pedestrian and bike trail. That could include some or all of the Kalakala pieces.

For more information, contact Kari Page at kpage@kirklandwa.gov or (425) 587-3011.

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