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Lake Union

Seattle is home to a relatively large collection of floating houseboat neighborhoods, particularly in Lake Union and Portage Bay. Seattle's houseboats first appeared on Lake Union, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River in about 1895 - mostly flimsy stick houses arranged on log floats as cheap housing for fishermen, mill workers and loggers who couldn't afford land and substantial housing. After World War II, college students found them to be the cheapest of housing. But residential use of shorelines was restricted beginning in 1972, limiting the number of houseboats and driving up prices. Today only 487 are left, clustered along Lake Union and Portage Bay. Some retain vestiges of the poorly built shanties from which they evolved — walls with few studs or stuffed with newspaper insulation — many have been remodeled.

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Taken on September 26, 2008