Eagle Street

This 600-foot-long street, which runs from Western to 2nd Avenues a block south of Bay Street, was given that name by William Nathaniel Bell in 1881. In his plat, the large lot between Bay (then Grant) and Lake (now Broad) Streets west of Western Avenue (then West Street) was shown as occupied by the Eagle Manufacturing Co. On this 1884 Sanborn map, though, “Seattle Barrel M’f’y” appears instead. This historic survey says that the Seattle Barrel Manufacturing Company opened in 1880, but was located between Bell and Wall Streets, farther south.

At any rate, it would seem that Eagle Street was named after this Eagle Manufacturing Co., of which I could find no further trace; and that neither Eagle nor Seattle Barrel was there 30 years later, when the 1912 Baist atlas was produced, showing the land to be occupied by Union Oil Company of California (later known as Unocal).

Unocal — which, according to Historylink, had begun using the lot in 1910 — would continue to use it as a fuel depot and marketing terminal until 1975. Cleanup of the contaminated ground began in the 1980s, and the Seattle Art Museum purchased the site in 1999 with help from the Trust for Public Land. In 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park opened, completing the area’s transformation from open space to industrial area to open space once again.

(Local historian Paul Dorpat points out that the cove that once existed here could be [though never was] called “Eagle Cove” — both for Eagle Street and for the fact that Alexander Calder’s Eagle sculpture now makes its home in the lower half of the park.)

Alexander Calder‘s sculpture ”Eagle”

Bay Street

This street, which runs for a little over a tenth of a mile from Elliott to 1st Avenues, was originally named Grant Street by William Nathaniel Bell in 1881. 14 years later, it was one of the many streets caught up in the Great Renaming of 1895. Per ordinance 4044, it was “ordained… that the name of Grant Street from Elliott Bay to Depot Street, be and the same are hereby changed to Bay Street.” I can’t imagine it took its name from anywhere other than Elliott Bay.

Dilling Way

This street, which runs a mere 200 feet from 4th Avenue to Yesler Way in front of City Hall Park, is named for George W. Dilling, who was mayor of Seattle from 1911 to 1912.

In 1911, Mayor Dilling took an empty lot that until two years earlier had been the location of the Katzenjammer Castle, Seattle’s second city hall, and converted it into what is now known as City Hall Park — originally named Dilling Park in his honor. In 1916, the municipal offices moved once again, to the newly constructed King County Courthouse, then known as the City–County Building, across the Jefferson Street right-of-way from the park. They remained there until 1962, but the park retains the “City Hall” name.

In a letter dated March 29, 1937 from A.C. Van Soelen, corporation counsel for the city, to the Board of Public Works, regarding the ability of the city to restrict parking on Dilling Way, he writes that “Dilling Way apparently never was established or named by ordinance or other action of the City Council and was opened up or paved in 1915 or 1916, presumably in lieu of Jefferson Street which was closed between Third and Fourth Avenue though never formally vacated,” and suggests that the city council “affirmatively declare its policy” regarding the street by passing an ordinance. Such an ordinance was passed shortly thereafter, making the name of Dilling Way official. (Interestingly, that ordinance refers to the street as a “private way,” but the county’s quarter section map shows it as a public road. That same map shows that the walkway in front of the courthouse is still, technically, Jefferson Street.)

E Interlaken Boulevard

The establishment of E Interlaken Boulevard — the first of Seattle’s Olmsted parks and boulevards we’re covering — was first proposed, according to Seattle parks historian Don Sherwood, in 1903 as Volunteer Hill Parkway. Two years later, the current name was adopted. There is speculation, but no documentation, that it was named for the Swiss resort town of that name. Ask a Seattleite how to pronounce “Interlaken” and you may hear either lake or lock, the latter being more common according to an informal Twitter poll I ran (but the former being the one I grew up with).

Interlaken Boulevard runs for about 1⅔ miles west to east from Delmar Drive E, by Seattle Preparatory School on Capitol Hill, to Lake Washington Boulevard E, in the Washington Park Arboretum. The middle section, between 19th and 21st Avenues E, is closed to motor vehicles and functions as a pedestrian and bicycle trail. The name also appears on Interlaken Drive E and Interlaken Place E — and should not be confused with Interlake Avenue N, a street in North Seattle.

Fauntleroy Way SW

This 4-mile-long thoroughfare runs from the west end of the West Seattle Bridge to Brace Point, passing Morgan Junction, Lincoln Park, and the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal on the way. It was named for Fauntleroy Cove, location of that terminal, from which riders depart for Vashon Island and Southworth, on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Fauntleroy Cove was itself named after Robert Henry Fauntleroy by George Davidson, Fauntleroy’s future son-in-law. They were both members of the U.S. Coast Survey. He is one of three Fauntleroys whose names appear on Seattle street signs — Ellinor Drive W and Constance Drive W are named for Mounts Ellinor and Constance in the Olympic Mountains, themselves named by Davidson after his future wife and sister-in-law, respectively.

“Elliott Way” just a placeholder name

A new street connecting Elliott Avenue to Alaskan Way as part of the viaduct replacement project is currently under construction. When I first heard in 2016 that they were planning to call it Elliott Way, I thought it was a wasted opportunity. I wrote on my personal Facebook page “This is an opportunity to commemorate someone, or something, new, rather than Jared, George, Samuel, or Jesse Elliott (apparently no one is sure just which Elliott the bay is named after)!”

However, as it turns out, “Elliott Way” is just a placeholder name, just as “E Frontage Road S” was for what is now Colorado Avenue S at the south end of the new 99 tunnel.

On Boxing Day 2020 I finally wrote to the Seattle City Council and the Waterfront Seattle Program letting them know how I felt:

“The bay, and its namesake (most likely midshipman Samuel Elliott of the Wilkes expedition that explored Puget Sound in 1841) already has Elliott Avenue named in its honor. Elliott was, of course, a white man. I don’t know what percentage of Seattle streets are named for white men (although I would be fascinated to find out, and may undertake that as a project for my blog on Seattle street names), but I’m sure it’s very high.

“I urge you instead to take this opportunity to name this street something else. The Duwamish people, for example, have Duwamish Avenue S named for them (actually more likely for the river, as Elliott Avenue was named for the bay, not directly for the sailor), but it is an insignificant street 2/10 of a mile long hidden under the Spokane Street Viaduct and the Alaskan Freeway. Perhaps Duwamish Avenue would be a better choice, if the tribe approved? Or perhaps the street could honor a non-white person associated with the history of Seattle’s waterfront? Frank Jenkins, perhaps?”

I honestly didn’t expect to hear back from anyone, but to my surprise Marshall Foster, director of the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, wrote me himself on January 5, saying:

We completely agree that the naming of this new street is an exciting opportunity. “Elliott Way” has simply been a placeholder until we are closer to its opening. The Coast Salish tribes are an incredibly important part of Seattle’s history and culture today. We have actually been thinking along similar lines about how this naming could help to elevate their presence here, and have been in discussions with our partners in the tribal community about ideas very similar to yours. We expect to have a proposal for public discussion later this year.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy about this.