I’ve never actually watched the Deadliest Catch TV show. But I have read—or rather skimmed—Captain Sig Hansen’s memoir North by Northwestern for information on Ballard. I’ve cited Hansen in a number of posts, specifically those that involve 1960s Ballard Ave (see here, here, and here). And here’s what he has to say about Marvin’s Garden, the park on Ballard Ave that occupies the site of the former Ballard City Hall.
I wrote here about the old City Hall and mentioned that it’s been suggested that the damage the building sustained in the 1965 earthquake didn’t warrant demolition. If the motive for demolition was to free up the space for new development, something clearly went awry, as it’s been a park ever since.
Hansen’s story starts in 1971 when the current owner of the Ballard Smoke Shop visited the place for the first time, having agreed to buy the place sight unseen.
It was empty now except for a big-headed old man with a crooked neck, who lolled alone at a booth. … “Who’s that guy?” “That’s Marvin. He takes care of the place.” … “He’s included in the deal.”
Nobody knew much about Marvin. His last name was Sjoberg. He was also known as the Mayor of Ballard … and … would lead the annual Norwegian May 17 parade—in a tuxedo.
Marvin also did a lot of cleaning up down (sic) the street at the little triangular park on Ballard Avenue. The old Ballard City Hall bell, from back before annexation, hung in a tower. The park came to be known as Marvin’s Garden, and Tom (from the Ballard Smoke Shop) wanted to make sure it stayed that way. He ordered a plaque built at his own expense, and hung it in the park. Years later he noticed that it had been removed. He made a stink with the city and they replaced it with an official sign—Marvin’s Garden—to memorialize the now-deceased Mayor of Ballard.
Here’s what the Seattle Parks and Recreation web site says about Marvin’s Garden:
Marvin’s Garden is a quiet oasis across the street from Bergen Place Park in Ballard. Its five benches on a stone-embedded concrete patio are surrounded by cedar trees, shrubbery, and flowers in planters. It is also the site of the red brick Ballard Centennial Bell Tower, created to hold the old Ballard City Hall bell at the site where the City Hall stood, and to mark the Ballard Avenue Historic District. Note the inlaid compass in the floor of the bell tower.
Marvin’s Garden is a play on the Marvin Gardens property from the original U.S. version of Monopoly, based on Atlantic City, New Jersey. And the Marvin Gardens property itself is a misspelling of the area it’s named after, which is in fact Marven Gardens.
Marvin Gardens, the Monopoly property, is the yellow property between the Water Works and Go to Jail. In the British version—the real version as far as I’m concerned—which is, of course, based on London, the space occupied by Marvin Gardens is Piccadilly.