This street is named for Judge Thomas Burke (1849–1925), after whom the Burke–Gilman Trail and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture are also named. In 1875, Burke, who was friends with the Bagley family, came to Seattle from Michigan, where he had attended law school. He began working with John McGilvra and ended up marrying his daughter, Caroline. He and Daniel Gilman were two of the founders of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway in 1885; the Burke–Gilman Trail today runs over the old railroad right-of-way. The Burke Museum, founded in 1885 by the Young Naturalists’ Society as Naturalists’ Hall, became the Washington State Museum in 1899 and took Burke’s name in the 1960s as part of a bequest from Caroline, who died seven years after her husband. He is also remembered for his defense of the rule of law during the period of peak anti-Chinese agitation in the 1880s. (He wanted the Chinese laborers to leave Seattle, but for this to happen non-violently, as opposed to what had happened in Tacoma.)
Burke Avenue N begins at N Northlake Way and the Burke–Gilman Trail just north of Gas Works Park, and goes 1¼ miles north to N 50th Street. It resumes for a block at the north end of Green Lake between N 80th Street and N 82nd Street, and picks up again north of Bishop Blanchet High School at N 85th Street, going ⅓ of a mile north to N 92nd Street, where it becomes College Way N. With the exception of a few short segments, its next appearance is at N 135th Street, where it goes ½ a mile north to the city limits at N 145th Street. As with many other North Seattle avenues, the name continues on into Shoreline, and last appears as a short stub just north of N 203rd Street.