This street was created in 1915 by renaming portions of Hugo Place, Grand Avenue, and E Denny Way. It was named after the Madrona neighborhood, itself named after Madrona Park, which in turn was named for the madrona or Pacific madrone tree (Arbutus menziesii). According to Seattle parks historian Don Sherwood, this was not because of the tree’s prevalence in the area — if they are characteristic of any Seattle neighborhood, it would be Magnolia. Rather,

J.E. Ayer, one of the “contributors” [of land for the park], suggested “Madrona,” based upon the presence of a few trees in the community — but scarcely more than a “few little (madrona) sprouts” in the park area. However, the name caught on and soon became the district name as well.

Madrona Drive begins at the intersection of E Denny Way, 38th Avenue, and Madrona Place E, and goes nearly ½ a mile southeast to Lake Washington Boulevard just north of Madrona Park.

Street sign at corner of Madrona Drive and E Pike Street
Sign at corner of Madrona Drive and E Pine Street pedestrian bridge, January 2014. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

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