There are only a handful of islands within Seattle city limits, and of them just one — Harbor Island — is large enough to have streets on it. But Island Drive S isn’t on Harbor Island — rather, it’s along the shore of Lake Washington, 5½ miles to the southeast. What gives?
As it turns out, Island Drive once was on an island — Pritchard Island. Known as tleelh-chus (‘little island’) by the Duwamish tribe, it was bought in 1900 by Alfred J. Pritchard (grandfather of Joel Pritchard, who was a congressman from Washington state in the 1970s and 1980s and its lieutenant governor in the 1980s and 1990s). In 1916, Lake Washington was lowered by 9 feet as part of the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and Pritchard’s island became part of the mainland.
It’s still known as Pritchard Island, though. Today, Pritchard Island Beach, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, and Be’er Sheva Park separate the island from the mainland.
Born and raised in Seattle, Benjamin Donguk Lukoff had his interest in local history kindled at the age of six, when his father bought him settler granddaughter Sophie Frye Bass’s Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the gift shop of the Museum of History and Industry. He studied English, Russian, and linguistics at the University of Washington, and went on to earn his master’s in English linguistics from University College London. His book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now, was published in 2010. An updated version came out in 2015.