The iconic and awesome Kalakala… Few vessels ever matched it for look and style. After its completion at the Kirkland Shipyards, Kalakala began service between Seattle and Bremerton in 1935. It was an immediate sensation and for a time was the second-most photographed object in America (after the Statue of Liberty). It sailed the Bremerton-Seattle run and other duties well into the 1960’s. Most Seattleites know the story of the vessel languishing on a beach in Kodiak, Alaska as part of seafood processing operation and its eventual “rescue” in 1998. Sadly, the once-revolutionary ferry had trouble finding a permanent home or enough backing for a restoration. The ferry ended up rusting away on Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway and was scrapped a few years ago.
The Colman ferry dock itself has been rebuilt quite a few times due to fire, catastrophic ship collisions and the usual march of progress. In this image both terminal buildings are slated for destruction. The current building will be replaced as part of Seattle’s ambitious waterfront project as a spiffy multimodal transit hub planned for completion around 2021. Behind Kalakala the previous Art Deco style terminal building is, like the ferry, also a relic of the 30s. Both would be history by the end of the 1960’s.
But this picture recalls a better time for the streamlined ferry. Here we see its stainless steel exterior gleaming in the sun in a photo taken by Frank Shaw in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Behind, we can see how the Seattle skyline has mushroomed in the last 50 years.