Welcome to Writes of Way! I’m Benjamin Lukoff, a local historian born, raised, and living in Seattle. As I write in my inaugural post, I’ve been an “address nerd” since I was very young, and a major component of this site will be exploring the stories behind the names of Seattle’s streets. That’s not all I’m interested in, of course, as you’ll see in my posts touching on wider issues of local history, place names, and public access (whether relating to Seattle or elsewhere), and current events relating to the city.
A note on neighborhood names as categories: I follow the Seattle City Clerk’s Geographic Indexing Atlas, which explicitly notes that “The neighborhood names and boundaries are not intended to represent any ‘official’ City of Seattle neighborhood map.… There are many different ideas of what neighborhoods exist in Seattle and what their names are, but the purpose of this atlas is to define neighborhood names and boundaries in a way that improves document indexing and retrieval.” I do, however, make some exceptions when the atlas deviates significantly from “truth on the ground,” or uses a name unfamiliar to most people. For example, Magnolia Way W, Dartmouth Avenue W, and Amherst Place W are assigned by the atlas to Interbay, but I would categorize them under Magnolia as well. Or, E Ford Place is assigned to Harrison/Denny Blaine, but I also categorize it under Washington Park.
More about me
During the day, I work as a senior web producer for Seattle Children’s. In past lives, I was a music editor for Amazon.com, a reference indexer for Microsoft, and a library tech in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.
My other writing and history-related activities
In 2010, Thunder Bay Press published my book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now. An updated version came out in 2015. My writing has also appeared in Crosscut.com, and I was a contributor to the second volume of One-Sentence Stories with a meditation on place names in Lushootseed, the language of Seattle’s first peoples.
I was also on the steering committee of the University District Museum Without Walls, whose main project was the Open to Question outdoor exhibition at the University of Washington in 2009 and 2010.
Drop me a line
If you’re so inclined, please feel free to reach me by filling out this form. You can also follow me on Twitter and Mastodon and follow Writes of Way on Twitter, Mastodon, and Facebook.