This street, which runs ³⁄₁₀ of a mile from Fuhrman Avenue E to E Allison Street, was established as an alley in 1890 as part of the Denny–Fuhrman Addition to the City of Seattle, but only received a name in 1936. It was named for Portage Bay, the eastern arm of Lake Union, which it parallels. Portage Bay was in turn named for the portage from Union Bay (part of Lake Washington) to Lake Union over the Montlake Isthmus, which is today the Montlake Cut of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
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.