Meet the Ship Canal, Seattle’s informal equator

This post is part of a new series we’re calling Seattleisms, a handy glossary of words and phrases unique to our city that’ll help you #livelikeyoulivehere. 


thuh-shihp-cuh-nal, noun

WHAT IS IT? The Lake Washington Ship Canal is made up of the Montlake and Fremont “cuts,” two waterways that connect Lake Washington and Lake Union to the Ballard Locks and Salmon Bay.

GEOGRAPHY: Locally, the ship canal marks an informal division between the northern and southern halves of Seattle that some locals are reluctant to cross due to distance and traffic.

HISTORY: Hiram M. Chittenden, for whom the Ballard Locks were eventually named, led the Army Corps of Engineers to connect Lake Washington to Salmon Bay with the canal. Why? To make it easier to transport logs, lumber, and fishing boats to Puget Sound. Construction lasted from 1909 to 1916.

LOCAL USAGE:  “Oh, that party’s north of the ship canal? Guess I’m staying home to watch Netflix.”

Know of a Seattleism that we should include in our new glossary? Hit reply or email us at [email protected]. We’ll be sharing out the Seattleiest terms we can find over the next several months.