I initially posted that this street was named for Judge Edward Lander (1816–1907), chief justice of the territorial supreme court from 1853 to 1857. In 1855, he, along with Charles Terry, bought Carson Boren’s downtown land claim for $500. They subsequently donated two acres of land, along with Arthur Denny, who donated eight, to form the first campus of the University of Washington, which opened in 1861. The university owns the Metropolitan Tract to this day, though it moved to its present location in 1895. Lander’s name also appears on Lander Hall, a UW dormitory on NE Campus Parkway.
However, I recently (April 2022) came across “What’s in a Name?,” a paper by Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the Alki History Project, in which he asserts that the correct namesake is Edward Lander’s brother, Frederick William Lander (1821–1862). I find his argument compelling. The street was named by Edward Hanford (S Hanford Street) when he filed the plat of Hanford’s Addition to South Seattle in 1869. Hanford also named streets for George McClellan and Isaac Stevens. All three men — McClellan, Stevens, and Frederick Lander — were part of the Northern Pacific Railroad Survey (1853–1855), and all three were likewise Union generals in the Civil War. Besides this,
Edward Lander was a political foe of and was jailed by Stevens [then governor of Washington Territory] when Lander opposed Stevens’ 1855 martial law declaration and actions. Stevens and Edward Lander maintained a widely recognized lifelong enmity. It is unlikely that Hanford would have memorialized this hostility.
SW Lander Street begins at 59th Avenue SW in the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle, and goes ⅕ of a mile to 55th Avenue SW. It resumes just to the south at S Lander Place and goes a further ⅛ of a mile to SW Admiral Way. Picking up again at 50th Avenue SW, it makes it ½ a mile to Walnut Avenue SW before being interrupted again, as happens to so many West Seattle streets because of the varying topography. There is a final ¼-mile stretch in West Seattle from 39th Avenue SW to 36th Avenue SW, then a very short segment on Harbor Island before S Lander Street resumes in the Industrial District at Colorado Avenue S and goes ¾ of a mile east to Airport Way S. On Beacon Hill, Lander begins just west of 13th Avenue S and goes ⅔ of a mile to just past 23rd Avenue S, including the block-long stretch that is now known as S Roberto Maestas Festival Street. Lander begins again at 30th Avenue S in Mount Baker and goes a final four blocks to 34th Avenue S.
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.