Like its neighbors S Hudson Street and S Americus Street, S Ferdinand Street was created in 1891 as part of the plat of Columbia. (The town incorporated in 1893 and was annexed to Seattle in 1907, becoming the neighborhood of Columbia City.) Along with Columbus Street, which no longer exists, they were part a of series of streets named after explorers — in this case, Ferdinand Magellan (born Fernão de Magalhães, also known as Fernando de Magallanes) (1480–1521), the first explorer to sail from Europe to Asia via the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

S Ferdinand Street begins at Lake Washington Boulevard S and goes a block west to just past 55th Avenue S. It is a stairway between 54th Avenue S and 53rd Avenue S, then begins again at 52nd Avenue S. After a half block as roadway and another half block as stairway, it begins in earnest at 51st Avenue S by Lakewood Park and goes just over a mile west to 31st Avenue S. It is another stairway for the next block, and then a stub off 30th Avenue S.

On Beacon Hill, S Ferdinand Street begins again at 28th Avenue S and goes ½ a mile west to 20th Avenue S, then resumes at 19th Avenue S and goes a further ⅖ to 13th Avenue S. It finishes up as a short connector from 12th Avenue S to Corson Avenue S by Maple Wood Playfield.

Panorama of the intersection of S Ferdinand Street and Rainier Avenue S in Columbia City, May 2012. Photograph by Todd McNaught, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

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