Benton Place SW

This street was named by and for Miles P. Benton (1860-1913) and his wife, Ida Belle Rinker Benton (1860-1919), when they filed the plat of Benton’s “Shore Acres” Addition to Alki Point in 1906.

In History of Seattle from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Clarence Bagley writes that Benton, who was born in Iowa and came to Seattle in 1890 from Montana,

…spent many years with different railroad companies. For a time he was connected with the Great Northern and later he became general passenger and freight agent for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at Seattle. The last few years of his life were spent in connection with the safe and lock trade. He was associated with the Norris Safe & Lock Company… Later Mr. Norris took over the safe and lock company and Mr. Benton the desk department of the business, after which he was joined by Edward Herald in a partnership that was continued under the name of the Benton-Herald Desk & Safe Company until [his death].

Miles P. Benton
Miles P. Benton, 1906. Artwork by Edwin Frederick Brotze.

SW Benton Place begins at Beach Drive SW across from Constellation Park and goes just shy of 300 feet north to a dead end next to one of King County’s combined sewer overflow treatment facilities.

SW Teig Place

According to Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the Alki History Project, in his paper “What’s in a Name?,” SW Teig Place was created in 1916 as part of the Olson Land Company’s 3rd Addition to Seattle. At the time, Jacob Larson Teig (1865–1945) was vice president of Olson Land. He was also the husband of Clara Isabelle Olson (1864–1944), daughter of Knud Olson (1830–1919), who had platted Alki Point in 1891.

SW Teig Place begins at 57th Avenue SW just north of SW Stevens Street and goes around 450 feet northeast to 56th Avenue SW just north of SW Lander Place.

SW Wilton Court

As Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the Alki History Project, tells us in his article “What’s in a Name?,” this street was named after Benjamin Wilton Baker (1860–1934), husband of Julia Curry Williams (1861–1950) and father of Marguerite Baker (1890–?), after whom SW Marguerite Court is named. The Bakers were proprietors of Rose Lodge, a summer resort which once stood where the eastern portion of SW Wilton Court is now.

Benjamin Wilton Baker, 1901
Benjamin Wilton Baker, from the November 30, 1901, issue of The Seattle Times
Rose Lodge circa 1913
Rose Lodge and tents from beach, 1913

SW Wilton Court begins at SW Hinds Street across the street from the Bar-S Playground, and goes just over 700 feet southeast to 63rd Avenue SW between Beach Drive SW and SW Marguerite Court. It is a private right-of-way between 64th Avenue SW and 63rd Avenue SW.

SW Marguerite Court

This street, which is part of the unrecorded plat of B.W. Baker’s Rose Lodge Addition, was named after Marguerite Baker (1890–?), eldest daughter of Benjamin Wilton Baker (1860–1934) and Julia Curry Williams (1861–1950). The Bakers were proprietors of Rose Lodge, a summer resort which once stood where the subdivision is now.

The public right-of-way is a footpath that runs just over 300 feet from 63rd Avenue SW in the southeast to 64th Avenue SW in the northwest. Vehicular access to the homes is from a public alley to the north and a private one to the south.

SW Campbell Place

This street was created in 1914 as part of the plat of Admiralty Heights, filed by William T. Campbell (1870–1951); his wife, Jennie Bennett Campbell (1874–1948); and Arthur L. Stewart. According to Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the Alki History Project, in his paper “What’s in a Name?,”

W.T. Campbell was a long-time West Seattle resident living on the hillside above Alki. He was an early advocate for Alki annexation to the City of West Seattle, a real estate developer, early West Seattle school principal, banker, and a member of the Seattle City Council beginning 1924. He would serve as a city councilmember until 1929.

W.T. Campbell
W.T. Campbell, from the October 11, 1933, issue of The Seattle Times

SW Campbell Place begins at SW Lander Street a block west of SW Admiral Way and goes just over 550 feet southwest to 56th Avenue SW at the north edge of Schmitz Park.

Frater Avenue SW

I first came across the Alki History Project while doing research for my article on SW Bronson Way. I’m not sure how I missed it before. The paper that mentioned Ira Bronson was “If at First You Don’t Succeed…,” a fascinating history of municipal governance and elections in West Seattle, and when I looked at their list of other papers I was thrilled to see among them “What’s in a Name?” — an investigation of Alki street names, both current and those changed long ago. Frater Avenue SW is the first of a number of posts in which I will be citing this paper, written by Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the project.

Frater Avenue SW originates in the 1955 plat of Anderson’s Soundview Terrace Addition № 2. Why Anderson, Caple, or Knowlton weren’t chosen instead for the honor (this being the only new street in the small subdivision, and those being the surnames of the three couples who filed the plat) isn’t clear. But, as Hoffman notes, SW Frater Street and SW Frater Place (both of which have since been vacated) were just to the west in the adjacent plat. In addition, an earlier Frater Avenue SW had existed, until it was vacated in 1942, just southeast of where today’s Frater Avenue begins at SW Spokane Street. The current Frater Avenue must have been named after one of these three streets.

But, of course, that leaves the question of who those three streets initially honored, and according to Hoffman,

Frater Avenue first appears in the plat Partition of Crawford Tract as ordered in King County Superior Court, Cause № 64110, June 17, 1915. [A.W.] Frater was the presiding judge.… The court commissioners assisting in the adjudication of a land title and ownership dispute before Judge Frater that resulted in the Crawford Tract plat probably named Frater Avenue in 1915, along with all the other streets appearing in the plat.

Archibald Wanless Frater (1856–1925), according to Cornelius Holgate in Seattle and Environs, was born in Ohio and came to Washington in 1888. Initially settling in Tacoma, he moved to Snohomish the next year and came to Seattle in 1898.

Archibald Wanless Frater
Judge Archibald Wanless Frater, from the front cover of The Seattle Mail & Herald, June 3, 1905

Today’s Frater Avenue SW begins at 57th Avenue SW just north of SW Hinds Street and goes ⅛ of a mile southeast to SW Spokane Street just west of 56th Avenue SW.

SW Maryland Place

This short West Seattle street was created along with Elm Place SW as part of the 1888 First Plat of West Seattle by the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company. Originally Courtland Street, it became joined to Maryland Street when the latter was created as part of the 1895 Seattle Tide Lands plat. When West Seattle was annexed to Seattle in 1907, both were renamed Maryland Place.

(The tideland streets in West Seattle were, with a few exceptions, named after states: Illinois, [New] Hampshire, Arkansas, [New] Jersey, Rhode Island, [New] Mexico, Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia, [North and South] Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, [North and South] Dakota, and Idaho. Of the ones confined to West Seattle, only Maryland remains [Florida, Oregon, Dakota, and Idaho also, or only, appear east of the West Duwamish Waterway].)

Today, SW Maryland Place begins at Elm Place SW and goes around 130 feet northeast to Harbor Avenue SW.

The West Seattle Stone Cottage, corner of SW Maryland Place and Harbor Avenue SW, December 31, 2020
The Stone Cottage, corner of SW Maryland Place and Harbor Avenue SW, December 31, 2020. The campaign to save the building succeeded, and it was moved into storage on August 18, 2021. Photograph by Flickr user Mark Ahlness, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Elm Place SW

This short West Seattle street was created as part of the 1888 First Plat of West Seattle by the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company. Originally Elm Street, it had companions in Oak, Maple, and Laurel Streets, none of which survive.

Elm Place SW begins at SW California Place and goes 300 feet southeast to SW Maryland Place, paralleling Harbor Avenue SW just over 100 feet to its northeast.

Wickstrom Place SW

This street is named for Peter Wickstrom (1837–1915), who immigrated to the United States from Sweden in the late 1860s. According to Thomas Ostenson Stine’s Scandinavians on the Pacific, Puget Sound, he lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, before coming to Seattle. His obituary, which ran in The Seattle Times on January 15, 1915, the day after his death, reads in part:

Peter Wickstrom, well-known pioneer of Seattle and an extensive realty holder, died unexpectedly yesterday afternoon after leaving the dinner table at his residence near Alki Point.… The deceased made his home at “The Old Homestead,” a tract of land not far from Alki Point.… Wickstrom came to this city in 1873 and conducted a hotel prior to the fire of 1889. Subsequent to that time he had not engaged actively in business.

Peter Wickstrom, from his Seattle Times obituary, January 15, 1915
Peter Wickstrom, from his Seattle Times obituary

Wickstrom Place SW begins at 54th Place SW just south of Alki Avenue SW and goes around 500 feet south to a dead end.

Boyd Place SW

This West Seattle street was created in 1920 as part of Sarah M. Boyd’s First Addition to the City of Seattle. I believe Sarah Maria Loudenback Boyd (1853–1932) to be the Sarah M. Boyd in question here.

Boyd Place SW begins at 59th Avenue SW and SW Charlestown Street and goes around 425 feet southeast to Chilberg Place SW and Aikins Avenue SW.

Chilberg Avenue SW

This West Seattle street was created in 1889 as part of Chilberg’s Addition to West Seattle, filed by Swedish immigrants Nelson Chilberg (1840–1928) and his wife, Matilda Charlotta Schanstrom Chilberg (1846–1927). The Chilbergs started out as farmers and grocers before developing real estate interests.

Chilberg Avenue SW begins at 59th Avenue SW and SW Carroll Street and goes ⅕ of a mile southeast to SW Genessee Street just east of Beach Drive SW at the Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook and Me-Kwa-Mooks Park.

Clarmar Place SW

This West Seattle street is really more of a footpath, being narrow, unpaved, and closed to motor vehicles. The public right-of-way runs about 450 feet northwest from Bonair Drive SW as it descends through the Duwamish Head Greenbelt from Sunset Avenue SW to Alki Avenue SW, and the path continues for some 1,150 feet more through property owned by the parks department.

Clarmar Place SW was created in 1941 as part of the plat of Clarmar Crags, which name appears to be a combination of Clara Coumbe (died 1975?), landowner, and mar, for its location above Elliott Bay and Puget Sound.

S Spokane Street

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because I’ve been in Spokane, visiting my wife’s family for the holidays and attending the memorial service of my sister-in-law, may her memory be for a blessing. Since there is no Emily Street in Seattle, why not return, then, with a post on Spokane Street?

S Spokane Street looking west from 1st Avenue South, July 5, 2013
S Spokane Street looking west from 1st Avenue South, July 5, 2013. Photograph by Flickr user Curtis Cronn, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. The barcodes on the support columns for the Spokane Street Viaduct was, in the words of the artwork’s creators, Claudia Reisenberger and Franka Diehnelt, intended “to ‘label’ the many layers that constitute SoDo’s history”; the word visible at upper left, ‘slóóweehL’, is a Lushootseed-language word that, according to Coll Thrush, author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, “refers to channels, or ‘canoe-passes’, in the grassy marsh through which canoes can be pushed to effect a shortcut,” and was a Duwamish place name referring to what is now approximately 4th Avenue S and S Spokane Street. (Incidentally, this is the same word rendered as sluʔwiɫ in the IPA-based Lushootseed alphabet, which was also used as a name for what is now University Village, and is now the official name of a street on the University of Washington campus.)

Spokane Street appears to have been created in 1895 as part of the Seattle Tide Lands plat. Streets in this plat that were not extensions of already existing ones, such as Commercial Street, were named after letters of the alphabet, American cities, American states, prominent local politicians, and places in Washington. The letters of the alphabet and the American cities appear in alphabetical order, but the states appear neither in alphabetical nor geographic order, and the places in Washington do not appear to be in any order whatsoever (except that a number beginning with Q are physically clustered together). They are as follows, listed alphabetically:

* Still exists

(I leave out West Point Avenue [which still exists, but only as a paper street] and Seattle Boulevard [now Airport Way S and Diagonal Avenue S] because the former was named for its proximity to West Point and the latter, it seems, for its prominence.)

It isn’t a list entirely composed of cities, islands, peninsulas, lakes, or rivers… the only things I notice are ⅔ of them are in Western Washington, with Chelan, Klickitat, and Wenatchee being in Central Washington and Spokane being in Eastern Washington; plus half the Western Washington locations (those beginning with Q) are on the Olympic Peninsula. It seems what is today Spokane Street could just as easily have been something else, and what is today such a prominent street wasn’t purposefully named after what was then the state’s third largest city (today, it ranks second).

Trestles over the Elliott Bay tideflats, 1905
Trestles over the Elliott Bay tideflats, 1905. Photograph by Ira Webster and Nelson Stevens. According to the Wikimedia Commons entry for a similar photograph, the trestle in the foreground, running right to left (north to south), is today’s Airport Way S; the parallel trestle in the distance is 4th Avenue S; and running perpendicular from lower left to upper right (east to west, toward West Seattle) is S Spokane Street. The Seattle Box Company plant is visible at 4th and Spokane.
Industrial District, Harbor Island, and West Seattle from above Beacon Hill, with Interstate 5, West Seattle Bridge, and Spokane Street Viaduct, August 15, 2010
A modern view of the Industrial District, Harbor Island, and West Seattle from above Beacon Hill, August 15, 2010. Photograph by Flickr user J Brew, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. The freeway in the foreground, running right to left (north to south), is Interstate 5. Airport Way S is visible just west of the freeway. The Spokane Street Viaduct and West Seattle Bridge can be seen at left heading from Beacon Hill to West Seattle. 4th Avenue S is still a major arterial, though it isn’t nearly as prominent in this photograph as the one taken 105 years earlier.

Today, SW Spokane Street begins in West Seattle at Beach Drive SW, ½ a mile southeast of Alki Point, then goes nearly ½ a mile east to Schmitz Park, the block between 61st Avenue SW and 60th Avenue SW being a stairway. It resumes on the other side of the park at 51st Avenue SW and goes another ½ mile to 42nd Avenue SW. After a few interrupted segments between 35th Avenue SW and 30th Avenue SW, including another stairway, it begins again in earnest at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Admiral Way. From here it goes a full 2¼ miles east to Airport Way S, crossing the Duwamish Waterway and Harbor Island on the Spokane Street Bridge, and for this entire length runs either underneath or in the shadow of the West Seattle Bridge or the Spokane Street Viaduct, the latter of which leads to S Columbian Way on Beacon Hill.

After a short segment between Hahn Place S and 13th Avenue S, S Spokane Street begins again at 14th Avenue S and S Columbian Way and goes ⅔ of a mile east to 24th Avenue S. With the exception of an even shorter segment hanging off 25th Avenue S north of the Cheasty Boulevard greenspace, it next appears in Mount Baker, where it runs for two blocks between 33rd Avenue S and 35th Avenue S (part of this being stairway); then two more blocks between 36th Avenue S and York Road S (featuring another stairway); and two final blocks between 37th Avenue S and Bella Vista Avenue S.

Portion of 1895 plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Spokane Avenue, now Spokane Street
Portion of 1895 plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Spokane Avenue, now Spokane Street. The visible portion of Seattle Boulevard is now Diagonal Avenue S, and Whatcom Avenue is E Marginal Way S. Portions of Chelan Avenue, Klickitat Avenue, and Duwamish Avenue still exist, as do Oregon Street, Dakota Street, Idaho Street, Colorado Avenue, and Utah Avenue.

Sunset Avenue SW

I enjoy writing posts on streets like W Commodore Way (I believe I am the first to have accurately identified its namesake), Division Avenue NW (I show that, even though it doesn’t divide anything from anything else today, it once served as Ballard’s eastern city limit for a few blocks), Loyal Avenue NW (I discover that it’s named not for the concept of loyalty, but for a baby girl whose first name was Loyal), and sluʔwiɫ (the University of Washington’s new Lushootseed-language name for Whitman Court). But sometimes I just like knocking something out quickly (I’m looking at you, W View Place and View Avenue NW). Sunset Avenue SW is another one of those. It originated in the 1888 First Plat of West Seattle by the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company, and the name simply refers to the street’s western view of Puget Sound; Vashon, Blake, and Bainbridge Islands; the Kitsap Peninsula; and the Olympic Mountains.

Sunset Avenue SW begins as a stairway at California Avenue SW, just across the street from Hamilton Viewpoint Park. Once the roadway begins up the hill, it goes ⅘ of a mile southwest to a dead end at the College Street Ravine southwest of 50th Avenue SW.

Schmitz Boulevard

This road, and the park through which it runs, Schmitz Park (or Schmitz Preserve Park), was named for German immmigrants Ferdinand Schmitz (1860–1942) and his wife, Emma Althoff Schmitz (1864–1959). Ferdinand was a banker, city councilman, and parks commissioner. He and Emma donated land — mostly, though not entirely, old-growth forest — to the city in 1908, forming the core (just over 55%) of the present park.

The Schmitzes had four children: Dietrich, Henry, Emma Henrietta, and Ferdinand Jr. A banker, Dietrich (1890–1969) became president of Washington Mutual in 1934 and retired as chairman of the board two years before his death. He was also a member of the Seattle School Board from 1928 (or 1930; sources differ) to 1961. Henry (1892–1965) was president of the University of Washington from 1952 to 1958. Schmitz Hall, the university’s administration building on NE Campus Parkway, was named in his memory in 1970.
Schmitz Boulevard looking north toward SW Stevens Street and SW Admiral Way. September 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

According to the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks,

The roadway was originally envisioned as a continuation of the West Seattle Parkway, never realized, which would have connected Alki Beach to Lake Washington via a series of parkways. The built section is instead a short road that provided the only automobile entry to Schmitz Park, extending through an allée of trees and terminating at a pergola and shelterhouse.

Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map of Seattle's park system
Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map showing both existing (red) and proposed (red hatched) park features. Schmitz Park and Boulevard are at upper left. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 2333.

The portion between 59th Avenue SW and 58th Avenue SW in front of Alki Elementary School having been closed in 1949, Schmitz Boulevard today begins at 58th Avenue SW and SW Stevens Street and goes not quite half a mile east, then southeast, then north, to SW Admiral Way and SW Stevens Street. It is closed to automobile traffic.

Point Place SW

This street, which was created in 1936, was named after Alki Point. Alki Avenue SW runs southwest from Duwamish Head to about 450 feet northeast of the point, where it turns south for a block and then becomes Beach Drive SW; Point Place continues another 200 or so feet toward Alki Point.

Alki Point Lighthouse, May 4, 2011. The first light here was supposedly hung in the 1870s; the U.S. Lighthouse Board installed an official one in 1887. The present lighthouse was built in 1913 and automated in 1984. Access is from Alki Avenue SW rather than Point Place SW. Public domain photograph by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier.
Arthur Armstrong Denny (1822–1899), the leader of the Denny Party that landed at Alki Point on November 13, 1851, helped build this cabin. Most of the party moved to what is now Pioneer Square the next spring. Photograph by Frank LaRoche, no date (though no later than 1891, when the cabin, shown here in ruins, was demolished).
Aerial view of West Seattle, March 17, 2009. Alki Point is in the lower-left-hand (west) corner; Duwamish Head is in the upper-left-hand (north) corner. The green spaces in the foreground, from left to right (north to south), are the Duwamish Head Greenbelt, Schmitz Preserve Park, and Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park. Elliott Bay lies north and east of Alki Point; the rest of the water is Puget Sound. Public domain photograph by Dcoetzee, Wikimedia Commons.

Alki Avenue SW

The settlement at Alki Point established by the Denny Party in 1851 was originally named New York. By a process that is not entirely clear, the name became New York–Alki, and then just Alki. Alki means ‘by and by’ or ‘someday’ in Chinook Jargon, the implication being that the settlement might rival New York… someday. Charles C. Terry officially applied the Alki name to the town plat he filed in 1853, and the point, street, and neighborhood were all named after it.

In the introduction to her 1937 book, Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle, Sophie Frye Bass writes:

Please everyone, pronounce Alki as the Indians did, as if it were spelled “Alkey.”

Hardly anyone does this anymore — in fact I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say /ælkiː/ in all seriousness when talking about West Seattle. /ælkaɪ/ is by far the preferred pronunciation, as shown by this informal Twitter poll I ran:

Apparently the Denny descendants (Bass was the daughter of Louisa Catherine Denny, herself the daughter of Arthur Armstrong Denny and Louisa Catherine Boren) still prefer — nay, insist — on ALkee:

Birthplace of Seattle monument, 1926. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 46980
Birthplace of Seattle monument, 1926. Originally dedicated in 1905 on the 54th anniversary of the landing of the Denny Party at Alki Point, it reads “At this place on 13 November 1851 there landed from the Schooner Exact Captain Folger [and] the little colony which developed into the City of Seattle.” It was rededicated, with a new foundation, on September 4, 1926 (likely the date of this photograph). A stone from near Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, was put in the foundation, and the new plaque reads “From Plymouth Rock to Alki Point: Honoring pioneers on the American shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the above stone was brought from Plymouth Rock by the First Transcontinental Motorized Caravan, managed by James H. Brown, and endorsed by the American Automobile Association. This tablet was furnished by the Automobile Club of Washington. The unveiling ceremonies on September 4, 1926, was participated in by officers and citizens of. the City of Seattle, the County of King and the State of Washington.” Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 46980

As noted in Harbor Avenue SW and Beach Drive SW, the Alki Avenue name once stretched from Lincoln Park around Alki Point and Duwamish Head to the industrial area near Harbor Island, but sometime between 1912 and 1920 the name was reduced to the portion between Alki Point and Duwamish Head.

Today, Alki Avenue SW begins at Harbor Avenue SW by Duwamish Head and goes 2⅕ miles southwest to Beach Drive SW.

Beach Drive SW

Like Harbor Avenue SW, Beach Drive SW was once part of Alki Avenue SW. It became Beach Drive sometime between 1912 and 1920. In contrast to Alki and Harbor Avenues, most of Beach Drive’s beaches are private, though there is a long public stretch at the Emma Schmitz Memorial Outlook, as well as Lowman Beach Park at the south end.

Puget Sound shore looking northwest along Beach Drive with Alki Point in distance, August 2007
Puget Sound shore looking northwest along Beach Drive toward Alki Point, August 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Beach Drive SW begins at Alki Avenue SW just south of Alki Point and goes just over 3 miles southeast to Trail #1 at Lincoln Park.

Signs at Beach Drive SW road end, March 2013
Signs along Beach Drive SW a little under 1,000 feet north of Lincoln Park. The park boundary sign is unofficial. Its placement appears to imply that the tail end of Beach Drive is private, which it’s not. Nor is the driveway (SW Othello Street) on the left. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, March 10, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Harbor Avenue SW

As noted in Alaskan Way, Harbor Avenue SW was once part of Railroad Avenue. When the Elliott Bay tidelands were platted in 1895, Railroad Avenue stretched from (using current landmarks) the Magnolia Bridge along the waterfront to the Industrial District, then across Harbor Island to West Seattle, ending southwest of Duwamish Head. In 1907 the West Seattle portion was renamed Alki Avenue, and sometime between 1912 and 1920 it was given its current name.

Looking northwest up what is now Harbor Avenue SW toward Duwamish Head, April 1902
Looking northwest up what is now Harbor Avenue SW toward Duwamish Head, April 1902

Today, Harbor Avenue SW begins at SW Avalon Way and SW Spokane Street at the west end of the West Seattle Bridge and goes 1¾ miles northwest to Duwamish Head, where it becomes Alki Avenue SW.

Street sign at corner of Harbor Avenue SW and Alki Avenue SW, October 2017
Street sign at corner of Harbor Avenue SW and Alki Avenue SW, Duwamish Head, with Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle in background, October 2017. Photograph by Ron Clausen, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

S Lander Street

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.

Edward Lander
Edward Lander

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.

Frederick William Lander
Frederick W. Lander

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.