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Kalakala.org:
April 4, 2002 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Kalakala.org: World-famous art-deco Seattle ferry (most recently an abandoned Alaskan shrimp factory) rescued from rusty oblivion. Gutenberg's earlier post about "ghost pictures" on the old ferry Kalakala sent me looking for more info on the vessel, which I now know was once the second most photographed object in the world, next to the Eiffel tower. Volunteers are now slowly restoring it near Gas Works Park. Cool.
posted by Tubes (12 comments total)

 
Very slowly. I've been kayaking by it for a couple of years now and have yet to see any progress. It'd be nice to see it cleaned up again, but there's an awful lot of work to be done.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:38 AM on April 4, 2002


I have not heard about this ferry until recently, and for some reason have seen many references to it of late. Possibly from here (besides the ghost post that is) or someone's blog. Looks groovy.

The claim of second most photographed (manmade) object made me wonder why I had no memory of seeing this critter. I searched for other such claims (e.g. I recognize the pyramids at Giza, so maybe those are the second most photographed object -- er, objects).

Why did I find this?
posted by Dick Paris at 11:55 AM on April 4, 2002


As noted in the previous thread, I knew one of the guys that worked on it when it was still beached in Alaska. Through him, I got to meet Peter Bevis, who is the director of the project.

(Funny - I've never even been to Seattle and I seem to be a regular font of wisdom on the subject!)

Anyway, they both came down to Miami a few years ago to give a presentation on the Kalakala during the annual Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach.

It's a fascinating story, but the restoration job is huge. Just getting it off the beach in Alaska, getting it certified by the Coast Guard, and towing the thing down must have cost a LOT of money. The goal is (I believe) to make it into a floating art gallery/conference center/bed & breakfast. Or some of the above.

Anyway, you Seattleites that are looking for a volunteer project, this is a good one. The rest of you can send a few dollars. They also offer some pretty cool t-shirts and stuff.
posted by groundhog at 11:59 AM on April 4, 2002


As noted in the previous thread, I knew one of the guys that worked on it when it was still beached in Alaska. Through him, I got to meet Peter Bevis, who is the director of the project.

(Funny - I've never even been to Seattle and I seem to be a regular font of wisdom on the subject!)

Anyway, they both came down to Miami a few years ago to give a presentation on the Kalakala during the annual Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach.

It's a fascinating story, but the restoration job is huge. Just getting it off the beach in Alaska, getting it certified by the Coast Guard, and towing the thing down must have cost a LOT of money. The goal is (I believe) to make it into a floating art gallery/conference center/bed & breakfast. Or some of the above.

Anyway, you Seattleites that are looking for a volunteer project, this is a good one. The rest of you can send a few dollars. They also offer some pretty cool t-shirts and stuff.
posted by groundhog at 12:00 PM on April 4, 2002


Thanks for the link, Tubes. Thank God the official Kalakala site is infinitely more handsome than the ghost hunters' site.

Does anyone know if the owner/organization is still getting charged a fee because the ferry is sticking out into a shipping lane?
posted by gutenberg at 12:04 PM on April 4, 2002


Ok, who logged in as me and posted the same comment?
posted by groundhog at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2002


gutenberg, that was changed last year. from the (7/1/01) seattle times:
Mayor Paul Schell's office, citing a recent survey by the Army Corps of Engineers, decided that the ferry Kalakala won't be penalized for jutting into the navigational zone of the ship canal, where it is moored.

The survey determined that while the ship does stick out too far into the shipping lane, it is not a hazard to navigation.

Last fall, the city's Department of Design, Construction and Land Use had warned the nonprofit Kalakala Foundation that the ferry would have to be moved or face fines of $75 a day for violating city code. There was talk of moving the 66-year-old art deco ferry, rescued from rusting away in Alaska by Seattle sculptor Peter Bevis, to another part of Lake Union, piers near Pioneer Square, Port Angeles or even San Francisco.

The Kalakala Foundation is still struggling to pay off debts and raise $7 million to $10 million for the ship's restoration.
posted by gluechunk at 12:22 PM on April 4, 2002


Here's the "source" of the "second-most photographed" claim. It's another, interesting site (home page) on the Kalakala, but provides no reference. A Google search for "most photographed object +in +the world" yields ONLY the geocities page plus one that claims the Golden Gate bridge, not Eiffel tower, is the most photographed.

Conclusion: the Kalakala is a nice boat but never was the second-most photog'ed, even if that were a measurable thing.
posted by beagle at 12:38 PM on April 4, 2002


I was skeptical about the photo claim too, but clearly the Kalakala was an unusual icon for many years. Usually ships become famous only through sinking or tragedy. (Edmund Fitzgerald, Titanic, Britannic, etc.) And I can't think of many vessels that were so symbolic for a city or region. Though one that comes to mind happens to be another ferry, the S.S. Badger, which has run from Manitowoc, WI to Ludington, MI since 1952.
posted by Tubes at 2:58 PM on April 4, 2002


The funny thing is that the Kalakala looked great but the "streamlining" made for an incredibly noisy ride--the banging of all that metal plating in the wind was deafening. The official site somehow neglects that aspect.
posted by y2karl at 9:53 PM on April 4, 2002


On second thought, there is a way to rank photographedness, although it's certainly not definitive. Google Images search comes up with the following: "Kalakala" -- 353 images; "Eiffel" -- 17,400 images; "Golden Gate" -- 20,300 images. Not secoond most photographed, for sure. QED.
posted by beagle at 5:35 AM on April 5, 2002


Another interesting fact regarding the restoration, pseudomonas Kalakala 98, a newly discover strain of oil-eating bacteria. What is fascinating about these microbes is that they have been found to thrive in salt water. The team responsible for removing oil from the bilge water of the Kalakala before it came to Seattle is developing it for use as a tool on similar clean-up situations involving larger ships.
posted by yonderboy at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2002


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