Joliet Avenue W

This street was created in 1895 as part of the Seattle Tide Lands plat (in full, Seattle Tide Lands as Surveyed and Platted by the Board of Appraisers of Tide and Shore Lands for King County, Washington). Streets were laid out from the northern tip of Magnolia (see W Semple Street) to West Seattle, but only the land southeast of Magnolia down to the Duwamish River was ultimately filled and developed.* (Magnolia’s tidelands were intended to become industrial land as part of the Bogue Plan, but this was rejected, and they have remained untouched west of the Elliott Bay Marina.)

* I certainly don’t want to minimize the extent of what was filled — over 92% of the tidelands, according to local historian and geologist David B. Williams.

As can be seen in the portion of the plat map reproduced below, the streets perpendicular to the shoreline in southwest Magnolia were named alphabetically after various cities in the United States. (Northwest of here, they were simply given letters of the alphabet, beginning with A and making it as far as O.) The namers began with Allegheny (Pennsylvania), and continued with Bangor (Maine), Chattanooga (Tennessee), Duluth (Minnesota), Erie (Pennsylvania), Fresno (California), Galveston (Texas), Hartford (Connecticut), Ithaca (New York), and our subject, Joliet (Illinois), before switching to yet another series.

Portion of Plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Smith Cove and Southwest Magnolia
Portion of 1895 Plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Smith Cove and Southwest Magnolia

Most of these streets have been renamed or vacated, but for some reason this never happened to Joliet Avenue, even when the Navy took over the Smith Cove piers and uplands in 1941 and 1942 to form Naval Supply Depot Seattle. Today, this is the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 90/91 complex, but as the quarter section map shows, it’s still crisscrossed by public right-of-way. It may very well take the proposed redevelopment of the uplands and Washington National Guard armory site to eliminate these paper streets for good.

Viewmont Way W

This street was created in 1915 as part of the plat of Carleton Park, a replat of much of southwest Magnolia (basically a triangle formed by W Raye Street, 34th Avenue W, and Magnolia Boulevard W). Arthur A. Phinney (1885–1941) led the project, named after his father, Guy Carleton Phinney (1851–1893) (Phinney Avenue N, Phinney Ridge). As The Seattle Times reported:

The old plat was executed thirty years ago without regard to the preservation of the naturally beautiful contour of the land.… In the new plat the streets and boulevards curve and swing about the bases of elevated portions, escaping the deep cuts and heavy fills that would be necessary in conforming to the strict, rectangular plans of the old plat, and affording a scenic frontage for every building lot in the addition.… This entire district commands an unobstructible view of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, the state university, Laurelhurst, Denny-Fuhrman addition, the entire waterfront and manufacturing district of Seattle, St. James Cathedral, 42-story L.C. Smith Building, Alaska Building, majestic Mt. Rainier, and about every other phase of natural scenery that has made Seattle attractive as a place of habitation.

Article on Carleton Park, Seattle Times, April 25, 1915
Article on Carleton Park, Seattle Times, April 25, 1915

Viewmont Way was obviously named after its view of the mountains, and is of a piece with other Carleton Park streets like Montavista Place, Westmont Way, Eastmont Way, Altavista Place, and the like.

Viewmont Way W begins at the intersection of 34th Avenue W, W Lynn Street, and Montvale Place W in Magnolia Village, and goes ¼ mile southwest to Constance Drive W, where it becomes W Viewmont Way W. The name initially continued about the same distance northwestwards, where the street became 41st Avenue W, but this portion and the rest of 41st Avenue as far north as Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) were apparently changed at some point to W Viewmont Way. In 1961, the streets became Viewmont Way W and W Viewmont Way W.

W Blewett Way

This street is named for Edward Blewett (1848–1929), one of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood (named after his hometown, Fremont, Nebraska).

“But,” you might say, “if he developed Fremont, why is W Blewett Way in Queen Anne?”

As you can see in the map below, and in this plat he filed in 1888 of what is now Fremont and North Queen Anne before the Fremont Cut was dug, Ewing and Blewett Streets used to be part of both neighborhods. When they became separated, the names were left alone on the Queen Anne side; in Fremont, they were changed as follows: Kilbourne to N 36th Street, Blewett to N 35th Street, and Ewing to N 34th Street.

Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas Showing Fremont Cut
Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas showing Fremont Cut

It’s not quite that simple, though — Blewett never reached quite as far as 13th Avenue W. What appears to have happened is that a name was needed when what is now W Blewett Way was created in 1907, and because the street to the south was still Ewing, Blewett presented itself as a natural choice. The rest of Blewett south of the canal was vacated over the years, so this is all that’s left of the name.

Today, W Blewett Way begins at the north end of 13th Avenue W and goes east just about ⅒ of a mile before it becomes a private driveway.

Van Buren Avenue W

This street first appears in the 1875 plat of the Northern Addition to Seattle, W.T., filed by James Marston McNaught (1842–1919) and his wife, Agnes Martha Hyde McNaught (1856–1918). James was “a wealthy lawyer working in the railroad industry.” I assume it was named for Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, and not for his namesake, Martin Van Buren Stacy, a Seattle real estate developer, though I wouldn’t be surprised if McNaught and Stacy knew each other, as their dwellings, in addition to that of Henry Yesler, were considered “the three most lavish mansions in the city.”

I wasn’t sure whether to label Van Buren Avenue a “paper street” or not. Unlike W Semple Street and Albert Place W, part of the right-of-way has actually been improved (see below). However, like those two streets, it is not signed; and unlike Semple, there are no buildings with Van Buren Avenue addresses. (There are two houses on the street, but one has a W Prospect Street address; the other, an Elliott Avenue W address.)

The right-of-way stretches from just southeast of W Prospect Street, northeast of Elliott Avenue W, to where the Magnolia Bridge onramp turns west at W Garfield Street. The first 350 or so feet are drivable. There is also a foot trail through the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt in the right-of-way, beginning at the east end of W Lee Street and heading southeast. Lastly, just under 600 feet of the Magnolia Bridge onramp is located in the right-of-way. It could conceivably be signed Van Buren Avenue W instead of W Galer Street Flyover, but this is not the case.

Albert Place W

Our first paper street, W Semple Street, was in Magnolia, and so is our second!

In 1907, Anna Sophia Brygger (1852–1940) (NW Brygger Place, Brygger Drive W) filed the plat of Lawton Heights in Magnolia. Because a good portion of it was taken up by what is now known as Kiwanis Ravine, many of the streets were only partially built (Fort Place, 35th Avenue W, 34th Avenue W, Brygger Drive) or never built at all (Northview Place, Albert Street [Alberta is a typo], Byers Place). For some reason, they have never been vacated, making them all paper streets, and unlike W Semple Street, they don’t even have any buildings with addresses.

Brygger had seven children, one of whom was named Albert (1887–1977). According to Paul Dorpat, he was at one point president of Peoples National Bank (now part of U.S. Bank). It seems a fair bet that she named Albert Street after him.

Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas
Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas

Brooklyn Avenue NE

This street was named after the Brooklyn Addition to Seattle, platted by James Alexander Moore (1861–1929) in 1890. The addition itself is said to have been named for Brooklyn, New York (see the history of the University District Paul Dorpat wrote for HistoryLink and this article on his own blog), though I haven’t been able to find a source beyond those:

[Moore] chose the name because his addition “looked across the water” to Seattle proper like the New York borough of the same name that looks across the East River to Manhattan.

Today’s Brooklyn Avenue is a block west of Moore’s. Again quoting Paul Dorpat:

None of James Moore’s street names survive. His Tremont Avenue became 15th Avenue. One block west he named University Way — the District’s future “Main Street” — Columbus Avenue. He called the future Brooklyn Avenue, “Broadway,” ­ and this was Moore’s intended “Main Street.” He called 12th Avenue “Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Avenue NE begins at NE Boat Street just north of Fritz Hedges Waterway Park and goes 1¾ miles north through the University District and Roosevelt neighborhood to NE 66th Street at Roosevelt High School. It resumes at NE 70th Street and goes just short of 300 feet to Froula Playground and the Roosevelt Reservoir. There is another segment between NE 75th Street and NE 77th Street and a final one between NE 80th Street and NE 82nd Street by Maple Leaf Reservoir Park.

Diagonal Avenue S

This street in the Industrial District is so named because it cuts diagonally across the street grid, going northeast–southwest rather than east–west or north–south. But why is it there in the first place?

In a sense, Diagonal Avenue has been around since the 1850s. As Sophie Frye Bass writes in Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle,

The Beach or River Road… skirted the shore of the bay at the foot of the high Beacon Hill bluff, east of what is now Airport Way, and ran south along the Duwamish.… Built in the early fifties, [it] was a hard road to keep in good condition.… In 1886, a road was built on piling over the mud flats a little west of the Beach Road to avoid the slides and floods. This street became known as the Grant Street Bridge.

Essentially, there were a series of roads following the semicircular curve of Elliott Bay from Downtown to the Duwamish River before the tideflats were filled in: first Beach Road (or River Road), then the Grant Street Bridge, which in turn became Seattle Boulevard once the fill was complete. Sometime before 1918 (the first mention I could find of the name in The Seattle Times), the portion of Seattle Boulevard that ran northeast–southwest (the southern third of the semicircle) was renamed Diagonal Avenue. (In 1931, the rest of Seattle Boulevard was renamed Airport Way.)

Today, Diagonal Avenue S begins at Airport Way S and goes just about 400 feet to S Spokane Street. There is a slightly shorter segment west of 4th Avenue S which is blocked by railroad tracks, and one even shorter west of 2nd Avenue S blocked by the Union Pacific Railroad’s Argo Yard. It resumes for the last time at S Oregon Street, Colorado Avenue S, and Denver Avenue S, and goes ⅓ of a mile to sbəq̓ʷaʔ Park and Shoreline Habitat on the east bank of the Duwamish Waterway, which the Port of Seattle says “is probably the best small boat take-out launch site on the Lower Duwamish Waterway.”

N Canal Street

This street appears to have been built sometime between 1908 and 1912. (It was established by ordinance in 1906, but that was legislation, not construction. [It was also originally named Ewing Street, the original name of N 34th Street, which still exists on the Queen Anne side of the Ship Canal.]) When the plat of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, W.T., was filed in 1888, no such street was needed, because there was no canal. Instead, Ross Creek connected Lake Union to Salmon Bay. However, as work on the Lake Washington Ship Canal progressed, the Fremont Cut came into being, and it must have been felt a street paralleling the canal to the north was needed, since the original plat took no notice of the creek or any future canal route. (One to the south was needed, too, which is why Nickerson Street was extended from 3rd Avenue W to 4th Avenue N, at the southern end of the Fremont Bridge.)

Why, then, is Canal Street so short — not quite ⅓ of a mile from N 34th Street and Phinney Avenue N in the east to 2nd Avenue NW in the west?

As it turns out, even though Canal Street was to run to what was then the boundary between the cities of Seattle and Ballard at 8th Avenue NW, shortly after Seattle annexed Ballard in 1907 another street was laid out parallel to the canal connecting Fremont to the new neighborhood of Ballard: Leary Way NW (then simply Leary Avenue, all the way from Market Street to Fremont Avenue). Leary became the main arterial, and in 1951 NW Canal Street was vacated between 3rd Avenue NW and 8th Avenue NW, reducing it to its present length. (Until 2016, there was a slight discontinuity in the vicinity of 1st Avenue NW and N 35th Street where the built street deviated from its right-of-way, making it even shorter.)

So this isn’t quite the same as our trio of S Front Street, S River Street, and S Riverside Drive literally being cut short by the rechanneling of the Duwamish River into the Duwamish Waterway — more one of Canal Street being supplanted by Leary Way and becoming more valuable to the city as industrial land than as roadway.

S Riverside Drive

As you might expect, this street is so named because it runs along the west bank of the Duwamish Waterway. However, it only does so for about ⅖ of a mile, from S Webster Street east of 5th Avenue S to a dead end on the river just north of a path to t̓ałt̓ałucid Park and Shoreline Habitat (formerly the 8th Avenue S street end, just north of S Portland Street). It is by no means a prominent street, contrary to what such a name usually implies (Los Angeles, Manhattan, Ottawa, Spokane). In this way it is similar to Seattle’s S Front Street and S River Street. Why is this?

Also as you might expect, it’s for the same reason Front and River Streets are relatively unimportant: the rechanneling of the Duwamish River that started in 1913. Originally Duwamish Avenue in the 1891 plat of River Park, as seen in the image below, Riverside Drive used to curve around a bend in the river. When the river was straightened, the road was cut off right in the middle and became a Riverside Drive to nowhere.

Portion of River Park addition showing Duwamish Avenue (now Riverside Drive)
Portion of River Park addition showing Duwamish Avenue (now Riverside Drive)

S Southern Street

Having covered E North Street, Eastern Avenue N, and Western Avenue, we now come to S Southern Street! This street originated in the 1891 plat of River Park, filed by Alexander Prentice (1820–1909) and his wife, Jane Thomson Prentice (1823–1911). It appears to be so named simply because it is the southernmost street in the plat, half a block north of the 1890 plat of South Park.

Portion of River Park addition showing Southern Avenue (now Southern Street)
Portion of River Park addition showing Southern Avenue (now Southern Street)

S Southern Street begins just east of 12th Avenue S on the west bank of the Duwamish Waterway, and goes ½ a mile to just west of 7th Avenue S, where it is blocked by Washington State Route 99 (W Marginal Way S). (Its first tenth of a mile is within unincorporated King County as part of the “Sliver by the River.”) It begins again in West Seattle as SW Southern Street at 35th Avenue SW, and goes ⅗ of a mile to 44th Avenue SW.