Expedia Group Way W

“Look! They’ve finally signed the W Galer Street Flyover!” I thought to myself the other day as I drove onto the Magnolia Bridge onramp from 15th Avenue W. “I wonder why they took so long?” (It was built in 2002.)

Then I saw the sign that directed drivers to take the flyover if they were headed toward Expedia Group Way W. Of course… it was because Expedia was moving their corporate headquarters from Bellevue to Interbay, and the first employees were scheduled to arrive this month.

It made sense for the private road — originally Amgen Court W after the campus’s previous corporate occupants — to change its name… but why to Expedia Group?

Yes, Expedia’s official name is Expedia Group — it’s the parent company not only of the eponymous online travel agency but of many other brands, including Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, and CheapTickets — but still. Wouldn’t Expedia Way W sound and look better? Adding the “group” makes the name sound much more corporate to my ear.

E Barbara Bailey Way

As of this writing, Seattle’s newest street name is E Barbara Bailey Way — formerly the block of E Denny Way between Broadway and 10th Avenue E.

Barbara Bailey, who died on September 1, 2018, was best known for Bailey/Coy Books, which she founded on Broadway in 1982. As Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote,

Barbara’s commitment to action made her an early pioneer for LGBTQ+ rights. Her bookstores – B. Bailey Books and Bailey/Coy Books – were nationally beloved independent book stores that regularly brought communities together and hosted renowned authors. They were also safe and welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly for those just coming out and during the height of anti-LGBTQ+ actions.

Barbara Bailey Way is one of five “festival streets” in the city of Seattle.

Native names abide

Before white settlers came to to dzidzəlalič in 1852, before they came to əgwaliču in 1832, even before they first sighted the shores of x̌ʷəlč in 1792, the dxʷdəwʔabš were here, living at sluʔwił and šilšul, babaqʷəb and t’uʔəlalʔtxʷ, and paq’ác’ałčuʔ and səxʷt’ičib, by the lakes called c’alq’ʷadiʔ and sisałtəb and dxʷƛ’əš and x̌áx̌əʔčuʔ, and most of all x̌ačuʔthe lake — the smaller ones being fed by springs like liq’təd where the waters run red, the lake being fed by the river whose mouth was at ƛ’ax̌ʷadis, but one by one their names were replaced by the settlers, who though they named the city for siʔał and the river for the dxʷdəwʔabš nevertheless named places Pioneer Square for themselves, or Fremont for where they came from, or Brooklyn for that which they aspired to be, and while šilšul became Shilshole and liq’təd became Licton, other dxʷləšúcid names were left unwritten and hardly spoken for decades but still remembered — so let Carkeek remain Carkeek, but know that it was once and is still kʷaatəb, as Montlake is still stəx̌ʷugʷił, the Locks, which lowered x̌ačuʔ and x̌áx̌əʔčuʔ, still xʷiwálqʷ, and University Village still sluʔwił village, and celebrate that wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ now sits where Whitman and Stevens meet.

This piece (originally titled “Lushootseed names remain”) appeared as the first item in One-Sentence Stories: An Intriguing New Anthology of Stories Told in a Single Sentence, Book 2, compiled by Val Dumond in 2018. Apparently I was the first potential contributor to ask if the story could be non-fiction. There was a minimum length of 200 words — this comes in at 203.

The names are in the dxʷləšúcid or Lushootseed language, spoken by many of the Coast Salish Native American tribes in the Puget Sound region. I selected most, though not all, names by using the Burke Museum’s Waterlines Project map. They appear below, along with their translations and the current, settler-given names.

  1. dzidzəlalič — Little Crossing-Over Place — Pioneer Square
  2. əgwaliču — Extensive Sand Banks Over Which the Water Is Shallow/Big Tide/Long Run-Out — Sequalitchew/Fort Nisqually/DuPont
  3. x̌ʷəlč — Salt Water — Puget Sound
  4. dxʷdəwʔabš — People of the Inside (Elliott Bay) — Duwamish
  5. sluʔwił — Little Canoe Channel — University Village
  6. šilšul — Tucked Away Inside — Shilshole, one of two unchanged Native names within Seattle city limits
  7. babaqʷəb — Little Prairie — Belltown
  8. t’uʔəlalʔtxʷ — Herring’s House — West Seattle Industrial District
  9. paq’ác’ałčuʔ — Brush Spread on the Water — West Point
  10. səxʷt’ičib — Place Where One Wades — Lakeridge
  11. c’alq’ʷadiʔ — Blackcaps on the Sides — Magnuson Park
  12. sisałtəb — Calmed Down a Little — Haller Lake
  13. dxʷƛ’əš — translation unknown — Green Lake
  14. x̌áx̌əʔčuʔ — Small Lake — Lake Union
  15. x̌ačuʔ — Lake — Lake Washington
  16. liq’təd — Red Paint — Licton Springs, the other unchanged Native name within Seattle city limits
  17. ƛ’ax̌ʷadis — The Growing Place — Squawk (Squak) Slough, mouth of the Sammamish River at Kenmore
  18. siʔał — personal name — Chief Seattle (Sealth)
  19. dxʷləšúcid — Salt Water Language — Lushootseed
  20. kʷaatəb — Dropped Down — Piper’s Creek at Carkeek Park beach
  21. stəx̌ʷugʷił — Carry a Canoe — Montlake Cut
  22. xʷiwálqʷ — Lots of Water — Commodore Park (Magnolia side of Ballard Locks)
  23. wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ — Intellectual House

SW Seattle Street

What better way to start things off than with SW Seattle Street?

SW Seattle Street is a minor residential street in West Seattle that runs about ³/₁₀ of a mile from 42nd Avenue SW in the east to Sunset Avenue SW in the west.

It might seem strange that such a short street would be chosen to bear the city’s name — it was the only one to do so until 2010, when the first two blocks of Airport Way S were renamed Seattle Boulevard S — but this has more to do with unimaginative naming than with civic pride.

On August 4, 1869, Ike M. Hall — the executor of the estate of Norman B. Judkins — filed the Judkin’s (sic) Addition to the Town of Seattle, located just southwest of where the interchange between I-5 and I-90 is today. From north to south, the east–west streets are named Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle.

Portions of the original Seattle Street were vacated over the years (for example, in 1900, 1957, and 2000), and the construction of I-5 took care of the rest. However, when the city annexed West Seattle in 1907 it changed the name of Maple Street to W Seattle Street as part of rationalizing the street grid… and so the name lives on.

(The city itself, of course, was named after Si’ahl [siʔaɫ], better known in English as Chief Seattle of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes.)

So, why SW Seattle Street instead of Seattle Street SW?

In Seattle, east–west streets have the directional come first, and north–south avenues have it come last. The Wikipedia article “Street layout of Seattle,” which I helped write, has a more comprehensive description of Seattle’s addressing system, including the answer to this question:

Why was it W Seattle Street in 1907 but SW Seattle Street now?

In 1961, city ordinance 89910 “established a standard system of street name designations” so that in almost all cases streets within a given zone would carry the same directional. West Seattle avenues already carried the SW designation.

The signs of my times

I’ve been fascinated by streets, signs, maps, and addresses since I was very young. As I look back, I can identify three books that set me upon the path to becoming a certifiable “address nerd.”

Cover of What We Find When We Look at Maps, by John Oliver

1. My parents bought me John Oliver and Robert Galster’s What We Find When We Look at Maps toward the end of the 1970s. I had apparently shown great interest in street signs and maps as a preschooler: I would make my own paper signs for the hallways at home and hang them on the door frames with Scotch tape, and I would draw my own maps — sometimes of my own neighborhood, sometimes of imagined locations. Even though it’s almost a half-century old and so of course has nothing at all about electronic maps, I’d still recommend What We Find When We Look at Maps to the parents of any budding cartographer.

Book cover of Pig-tail Days in Old Seattle by Sophie Frye Bass

2. Sophie Frye Bass, the author of Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle, was born here in 1867. Her parents were George and Louisa (Denny) Frye. Louisa’s parents were the settlers Arthur A. and Mary Ann (Boren) Denny, who, as part of the Denny Party, are credited with founding Seattle in 1851. Toward the end of Bass’s life, she wrote this recollection of her early days. What fascinated me most about it was that she used the city’s streets as a jumping-off point to tell the stories of her childhood:

In the years that have followed [Pike Street] has had its ups and downs…. We, who grew up in the street, love it. There were many happy days spent there — some sorrowful ones too, but still we love it. When we drive about, we try to visualize the blazed trail, the stumps, the johnny-jump-ups and the best wild blackberry patch that ever grew.

Bass would also provide the etymology of each street’s name she mentioned. For example, she informs us that Pike Street was named for John Henry Pike, “who helped build our old University building,” and that Spring Street was named for Tzee-tzee-lal-litch — where springs of clear water bubbled from the earth and the beach was sandy and free from rocks, there the Indians camped.”

Dad bought me Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the old Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) gift shop in Montlake when I was around 6.

Cover of The Young Detective's Handbook by William Vivian Butler

3. The last one I’ll mention is William Vivian Butler’s The Young Detective’s Handbook, which my sister gave me for my 7th birthday. As the title implies, it’s a guide for young folk who want to play at being detectives (and, along the way, gain observational skills that might actually help them later in life).

One of the questions — #86, to be exact — in the “Exercise Eye-Opener” chapter was this: “A police car, in pursuit of a gang of thieves driving a fast Jaguar, roars past your house in a westerly direction, and the chase goes on for half a mile. Where would it wind up?” The problem with this for me was that this would have been physically impossible. My street was ²/₁₀ of a mile long and my house was just about at the midpoint.

However, at its western end my street became a stairway. My father informed me that the street right-of-way continued down the hill, and later my curiosity led me to discover that it was really ⁴/₁₀ of a mile long — half of that either as stairway or unimproved right-of-way. Still not half a mile, but close! And since, in Seattle, street names are used for discontinuous segments, one could make a fair argument that the street was really 4 miles long, from Lake Washington in the east almost all the way to Elliott Bay in the west. So began my realization that a street wasn’t just a stretch of paved road.