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Tag: Seattle World’s Fair

March
28th

Kalakala: The memory, the vision, the listing hulk


The 276-foot Kalakala lists in its mooring on the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Think of the Kalakala as a dream, not a ship.

She’s not that rusted-out corpse of a ferry now slowly sinking in the Hylebos Waterway, threatening to stir up the toxins in a Commencement Bay Superfund site. Busted by Bay Watch, the environmental group that caught her listing, that remnant of a great vessel must be put out of its misery in short order.

The real Kalakala is a memory of magical voyages across the Sound in a silver, streamlined ferry nearly the length of a football field; a memory of live orchestras and dancing, of plush chairs and a Horseshoe Cafe, of affordable luxury for wartime laborers crossing the waters to the shipyards of Bremerton. She is an icon of Seattle, a symbol of the 1962 World’s Fair.

The real Kalakala is not that rust bucket in the Hylebos; she is a story of dreamers.

After her career as a ferry ended, she was consigned to ignominy as a crab-processing plant on Kodiak Island, then abandoned there to rot on a mudflat. Seattle sculptor Peter Bevis, dreamer par excellence, spent 10 years and a fortune refloating her decayed remains, towing them to Seattle and trying to resurrect the Art Deco magic. Read more »