Rob Mattson Way

This is the first honorary renaming we‘re covering on Writes of Way. It was named for the former “Mayor of Ballard,” Rob Mattson (1949–2018), the year after his death.

Honorary renamings differ from straight renamings in that:

  • They are done via resolution rather than ordinance
  • They do not replace the original street name in official records and addresses
  • They appear on brown, rather than green, signs

Speaking of signs, there appears to be some variation in their design; compare that of Rob Mattson Way, below, to that of Gerard Schwarz Place.

Rob Mattson Way covers 22nd Avenue NW between NW 56th Street and NW 57th Street.

Sign at corner of NW 56th Street and 22nd Avenue NW (Rob Mattson Way), November 10, 2020
Sign at corner of NW 56th Street and 22nd Avenue NW (Rob Mattson Way), November 10, 2020. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2020 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Leary Avenue NW

This street is named for John Leary (1837–1905), a Canadian who came to Seattle in 1869. He became a lawyer in 1871, and was involved in various mining and shipping concerns, streetcar lines, utilities, railroads, and banks. He helped found the First National Bank of Seattle in 1882; in 1929, it merged with the Dexter Horton Bank and the Seattle National Bank to form Seattle-First National Bank, later known as Seafirst and bought by Bank of America in 1983. He also founded, in 1878, the Seattle Post, which merged with the Daily Intelligencer in 1881 to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Leary was a Seattle city councilman in 1873, 1875, and 1876, and was the city’s mayor in 1884 and 1885. He helped form the West Coast Improvement Company with Thomas Burke, William Rankin Ballard, and Boyd J. Tallman; they filed the plat of Gilman Park in 1889, which became the city of Ballard in 1890 and was annexed to Seattle in 1907. 

John Leary
John Leary

Leary Avenue NW begins at NW Market Street just east of 22nd Avenue NW and goes ⅖ of a mile southeast to 17th Avenue NW. The arterial continues as NW Leary Way for another ⅖ of a mile, to NW 48th Street just west of 9th Avenue NW, where it changes names once again, to Leary Way NW, which goes ⅘ of a mile southeast to 2nd Avenue NW before turning into NW 36th Street.

Ballard Avenue NW

This street is named after Captain William Rankin Ballard (1847–1929). Born in Ohio, he came to the West Coast with his family in 1857. They initially settled in Oregon, then moved to King County in 1865. (His father founded Auburn, then known as Slaughter.) Ballard attended the University of Washington for one year, in 1868, then was a schoolteacher, surveyor, and captain of the Zephyr, which took passengers between Olympia and Seattle. He helped form the West Coast Improvement Company with Thomas Burke, John Leary, and Boyd J. Tallman; they filed the plat of Gilman Park in 1889. The city of Ballard was incorporated the next year; it was annexed by Seattle in 1907. It was so named because, at the time, the tracks of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway stopped at Salmon Bay. Passengers had to disembark and complete the rest of their trip to Gilman Park via footbridge. Apparently one of Ballard’s friends who worked for the railway began referring to the stop as Ballard Junction, and the name stuck.

William Rankin Ballard
William Rankin Ballard, circa 1917

Ballard Avenue NW begins at NW Market Street between 22nd Avenue NW and 24th Avenue NW and goes ½ a mile southeast to 17th Avenue NW, where it becomes NW Ballard Way. Most of it is part of the Ballard Avenue Historic District. (NW Ballard Way goes a further ½ mile east and becomes NW 47th Street when it crosses Leary Way NW at 9th Avenue NW.)

Tallman Avenue NW

This Ballard street is named for Boyd J. Tallman (1858–1932), who became a superior court judge in 1900. Originally from Pennsylvania, Tallman came to Walla Walla in 1885 and moved to Seattle two years later. That same year, he, along with Thomas Burke, William Rankin Ballard, and John Leary, founded the West Coast Improvement Company, which filed the plat of Gilman Park in 1889. Almost all of the street names were changed when Ballard was annexed to Seattle in 1907, but five streets that paralleled the Salmon Bay shoreline and one that ran perpendicular to it, as opposed to following the cardinal directions, were left alone: Shilshole Avenue, Ballard Avenue, Leary Avenue, Tallman Avenue, Barnes Avenue, and Ione Place.

Boyd J. Tallman
Judge Boyd J. Tallman

Tallman Avenue NW goes ⅕ of a mile from NW Market Street just east of 20th Avenue NW to 17th Avenue NW just south of NW 52nd Street and NW Ione Place.

Shilshole Avenue NW

This street, which originates along with the rest of the heart of Ballard in the 1889 plat of Gilman Park, was named for šilšula 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.

Section of Map of Township № 25 North, Range № 3 East of the Willamette Meridian, 1855, showing Salmon Bay labeled as Shilshole Bay
Section of Map of Township № 25 North, Range № 3 East of the Willamette Meridian, 1855, showing Salmon Bay labeled as Shilshole Bay.

NW Brygger Place

Have I mentioned my friend, local historian Rob Ketcherside? He is the vice president of the Capitol Hill Historical Society, author of Lost Seattle, and blogs about “New Seattle history, mostly,” at Ba-kground.com. I first made his acquaintance when I was a contributor to Crosscut.com and came across his article “Why light rail was predestined for Martin Luther King Jr. Way.”

One of his blog posts is on NW Brygger Place, which runs around 650 feet from 26th Avenue NW in the east to 28th Avenue NW in the west, just south of NW 60th Street and the Ballard Community Center and Playfield. Its namesake was Anna Sophia Brygger (1853–1940), an immigrant from Norway, who also named Brygger Drive W in Magnolia after herself. Do check it out, along with the rest of his posts.

Map of Brygger's 1st Home and 2nd Home Additions, Ballard, 1912 Baist Atlas
Map of Brygger’s 1st Home and 2nd Home Additions, Ballard, 1912 Baist’s Real Estate Atlas

NW Locks Place

Seattle’s newest street name is no longer E Barbara Bailey Way but NW Locks Place — formerly the block of NW 54th Street that ran between NW Market Street and the entrance to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, more commonly known as the Ballard Locks.

Ordinance 125947, passed by the city council in late September, was signed by the mayor the next week and went into effect a few days ago. As the Seattle Department of Transportation explained this summer, the name change stemmed from a request by emergency dispatchers: previously, there were two locations in which NW Market Street and NW 54th Street intersected; once in front of the locks and once over a mile to the east, where Market descends from Phinney Ridge. This name change will serve to eliminate any confusion about what is meant by “the intersection of 54th and Market.”

A similar change was made to Green Lake street names in 1961, when the various segments of Green Lake Way north of NE Ravenna Boulevard and N 72nd Street were changed to Green Lake Drive — previously, Latona Avenue NE, Sunnyside Avenue N, and Ashworth Avenue N (to name a few) had intersected Green Lake Way twice.

Interestingly, only the Lockspot Cafe’s address (3005) is affected by this name change. The other buildings fronting NW Locks Place have addresses on NW Market Street, and the address of the Ballard Locks remains 3015 NW 54th Street.