This street, which originates along with the rest of the heart of Ballard in the 1889 plat of Gilman Park, was named for šilšul, a village of the shill-shohl-AHBSH people along what is today known as Salmon Bay. Meaning ‘tucked away inside’ in the Lushootseed language, it is one of two remaining Native place names in Seattle, the other being Licton Springs (liq’təd).
Why, then, is the Shilshole Bay name applied to the body of water west of the Ballard Locks? Shouldn’t Shilshole Avenue, Shilshole Bay, and šilšul all be in the same location? According to Edmond Stephen Meany’s 1923 Origin of Washington Geographic Names, citing early settler Arthur A. Denny’s 1888 Pioneer Days on Puget Sound,
In December, 1852, Arthur A. Denny, knew the bay as “Shilshole.” It was later changed to Salmon Bay because it was thought to be frequented by Salmon.
Today, Shilshole Avenue NW begins at 14th Avenue NW in the east and goes ⅘ of a mile northwest to 24th Avenue NW, just short of NW Market Street.