Houseboats

On Lake Union, houseboats comprise Seattle’s most unique and coveted real estate. Now cherished features of the lakeshore, houseboats were not always accepted by mainstream Seattle. The first houseboats on Lake Union in the early 1900’s were floating shanties for workers at the Lake’s various industries. Post World War II, the houseboats began attracting writers, artists, musicians, and students. About 1,200 houseboats were moored in Lake Union, Portage Bay, and the Ship Canal in 1957. Houseboats regularly came under siege by those wishing to rid the waterfront of “bohemians” or make way for more industry. In 1967, the city required houseboats to connect to the municipal sewer system. The law eliminated about half the houseboats, which were squatting on public waterfront. Later, the passage of the 1972 Shoreline Management Act threatened to ban houseboats all together, but houseboat residents organized and lobbied to retain their colorful communities. Today over 450 houseboats float on Lake Union.

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