Clise Place W

This street is named for James William Clise (1855–1939), who is said to have come to Seattle with his wife, Anna Herr Clise (1866–1936), on June 7, 1889, the day after the Great Seattle Fire. Anna is best known for founding Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (today known as Seattle Children’s) in 1907. In 1890, James founded what is now Clise Properties. Over the years he, among other things:

  • Helped the University of Washington relocate from Downtown to its current campus
  • Helped establish Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) in Magnolia
  • Helped Lyman Smith build the Smith Tower
  • Helped kickstart the agricultural industry in Eastern Washington
  • Founded the Washington Trust Company, which after a series of mergers is now part of Bank of America
  • Helped organize the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition 
  • Helped fund the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Ballard Locks

Clise Place W originates in the 1928 plat of Magnolia View Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by the Clise Investment Company. It originally only went from W Howe Street at Magnolia Boulevard W to W Crockett Street, but now continues on to W Lynn Street and 33rd Avenue W, giving it a total length of just under ¼ mile.

JW Clise
J.W. Clise, from The Ranch and Range, June 26, 1902 issue

Viewmont Way W

This street was created in 1915 as part of the plat of Carleton Park, a replat of much of southwest Magnolia (basically a triangle formed by W Raye Street, 34th Avenue W, and Magnolia Boulevard W). Arthur A. Phinney (1885–1941) led the project, named after his father, Guy Carleton Phinney (1851–1893) (Phinney Avenue N, Phinney Ridge). As The Seattle Times reported:

The old plat was executed thirty years ago without regard to the preservation of the naturally beautiful contour of the land.… In the new plat the streets and boulevards curve and swing about the bases of elevated portions, escaping the deep cuts and heavy fills that would be necessary in conforming to the strict, rectangular plans of the old plat, and affording a scenic frontage for every building lot in the addition.… This entire district commands an unobstructible view of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, the state university, Laurelhurst, Denny-Fuhrman addition, the entire waterfront and manufacturing district of Seattle, St. James Cathedral, 42-story L.C. Smith Building, Alaska Building, majestic Mt. Rainier, and about every other phase of natural scenery that has made Seattle attractive as a place of habitation.

Article on Carleton Park, Seattle Times, April 25, 1915
Article on Carleton Park, Seattle Times, April 25, 1915

Viewmont Way was obviously named after its view of the mountains, and is of a piece with other Carleton Park streets like Montavista Place, Westmont Way, Eastmont Way, Altavista Place, and the like.

Viewmont Way W begins at the intersection of 34th Avenue W, W Lynn Street, and Montvale Place W in Magnolia Village, and goes ¼ mile southwest to Constance Drive W, where it becomes W Viewmont Way W. The name initially continued about the same distance northwestwards, where the street became 41st Avenue W, but this portion and the rest of 41st Avenue as far north as Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) were apparently changed at some point to W Viewmont Way. In 1961, the streets became Viewmont Way W and W Viewmont Way W.

Smith Street

This street is named for Dr. Henry A. Smith (1830–1915), after whom Smith Cove is also named. He and his family once owned most of what is now Interbay, between Smith Cove and Salmon Bay. He is likely best known today for his translation of Chief Seattle’s Speech. Though its authenticity has been questioned, it is accepted by the Suquamish Tribe and Duwamish Tribe, both of which siʔaɫ was chief.

Dr. Henry A. Smith
Dr. Henry A. Smith

Today, W Smith Street begins in Magnolia at the intersection of 37th Avenue W and 36th Avenue W and goes ⅘ of a mile east to just past 24th Avenue W, briefly becoming a stairway just west of 26th Avenue W at Ella Bailey Park. It begins again in Queen Anne at 7th Avenue W and goes ½ a mile east to Warren Avenue N, forming a portion of Queen Anne Boulevard between 1st Avenue W and Warren Avenue N. Smith Street’s final segment begins at 4th Avenue N and goes a block east, ending at a greenbelt overlooking Aurora Avenue N.

McGraw Street

This street is named for John Harte McGraw (1850–1910). In Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle, Sophie Frye Bass writes of McGraw:

All in one year John McGraw was Chief of Police, Marshall, Sheriff, Harbor Master and Fire Warden. Later he was Governor of Washington and in between, bank president and attorney-at-law — quite a career.

The second governor of Washington after statehood (1893–1897), he had been King County sheriff during the anti-Chinese riots of 1886. He defended Chinese laborers from the mob that was trying to expel them from the city, although, according to The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1877–1945, he initially sympathized with the rioters and allowed them to force the Chinese (without physically harming them) to the waterfront to be loaded onto the steamship Queen of the Pacific. Both he and Mayor Henry Yesler lost their bids for re-election that summer in what the book calls “a resounding show of support for anti-Chinese forces.”

John H. McGraw
John H. McGraw

Today, W McGraw Street begins as a shoreline street end on Elliott Bay in Magnolia west of Perkins Lane W. It begins in earnest at the intersection of Westmont Way W, Montavista Place W, and Rosemont Place W and goes ⅘ of a mile east to 24th Avenue W, forming the heart of Magnolia Village, the neighborhood’s commercial district, from 35th Avenue W to 32nd Avenue W. It resumes on the other side of Interbay in Queen Anne, beginning at 11th Avenue W and going 1⅛ miles east to the Northeast Queen Anne Greenbelt east of Bigelow Avenue N. There are a few block-long segments heading down the hill to Westlake and, like Blaine Street, a right-of-way platted into Lake Union that serves as a driveway and affords no actual lake access.

E McGraw Street doesn’t appear again until 15th Avenue E and Boyer Avenue E in Montlake, where it goes ⅔ of a mile east to 26th Avenue E at the west end of the Washington Park Arboretum, becoming a stairway for a short distance just before 19th Avenue E. It ends for good in Madison Park as a two-block stretch between 38th Avenue E and 40th Avenue E.

View looking south from the W McGraw street end: Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and West Seattle
View looking southeast from the W McGraw street end: Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and West Seattle, November 5, 2014. Photograph by Flickr user Seattle Parks and Recreation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Blaine Street

This street is named for Catharine V. Paine Blaine (1829–1908) and her husband, David Edwards Blaine (1824–1900). Methodist missionaries from Seneca Falls, New York, where, in 1848, Catharine signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the first women’s rights convention, the Blaines came to Seattle in 1853 but left in 1856, not to return until their retirement from missionary work 26 years later. During their short initial stay in Seattle, however, they managed to build Seattle’s first church (the Little White Church, predecessor of today’s First United Methodist Church of Seattle), and Catharine became Seattle’s first schoolteacher, making $65 a month. Catharine Blaine School in Magnolia is named in her honor.

Catharine and David Blaine
Catharine and David Blaine at their 1853 wedding

Unfortunately, though the Blaines may have been feminists, they, according to HistoryLink.org, had no love for Native Americans (or, for that matter, the Irish). Their departure in 1856 was prompted by the Battle of Seattle. Junius Rochester writes:

On January 20, 1856, a son John, was born to Catharine and David Blaine. Six days later the Battle of Seattle erupted. David had duty at one of the blockhouses, but managed to get Catharine and their babe aboard the Decatur in Elliott Bay. David had described the Indians as a “poor degraded race,” which would “soon disappear.” Catharine compared their “stupidity and awkwardness” to that of the Irish. The Indian uprising confirmed their worst fears and prejudices.

Today, W Blaine Street begins in Magnolia at 36th Avenue W and goes a semicircular ⅕ of a mile to 34th Avenue W and W Howe Street. It resumes at 31st Avenue W and goes almost ⅓ of a mile to Thorndyke Avenue W. There is a stub of W Blaine east of 15th Avenue W that is quickly stopped by the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt. The street resumes at 12th Avenue W and goes just over a mile to 4th Avenue N, having briefly become a stairway at 9th Avenue W. After a series of short stretches serving as driveways and parking, the Blaine Street right-of-way resurfaces east of Westlake Avenue N and heads into Lake Union. Here, too, it serves as a driveway and offers no access to the water. East of Lake Union, E Blaine Street begins at Fairview Avenue E and goes ⅛ of a mile to Franklin Avenue E, where it becomes part of the I-5 Colonnade park underneath the freeway. From Lakeview Boulevard E to just west of 10th Avenue E it is a stairway, and then two blocks of roadway ending at 12th Avenue E and Lake View Cemetery. There is then a diagonal ¼-mile stretch from 19th Avenue E to E Howe Street in Montlake. E Blaine finishes up as a ⅕-mile stretch from 37th Avenue E to McGilvra Boulevard E and a final two-block run from E Madison Street to 43rd Avenue E, both in Madison Park.

Bishop Place W

This Magnolia street, which goes not quite 700 feet from 37th Avenue W just south of W Armour Street in the south to W Fulton Street just west of 36th Avenue W in the north, originated in 1939 as part of the plat of Carleton Park Terrace, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by C.F. Bishop, Jr., his wife, Elizabeth, and the city of Seattle itself, owners of the land in question.

Charles F. Bishop, Jr. (1881–1963) was — according to his Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times obituaries, and based on information in his father’s Times obituary from 1943 — born in Brockport, New York, near Rochester, and came to Seattle when he was 18. The elder Bishop was a marine engineer for the Alaska Steamship Company and the Puget Sound Navigation Company. Bishop Jr. was a grocery wholesaler who ran the Puget Sound Quality Stores (PSQ Stores) cooperative, which, according to local historian Paul Dorpat in his April 6, 1986 Now & Then column for the P-I, was a predecessor of Associated Grocers — now, after a number of mergers and acquisitions, part of United Natural Foods

Bishop founded Modern Home Builders, Inc., with his brother, Ralph Waldo Bishop, Sr., in 1940, the year after he filed the plat of Carleton Park Terrace. This particular plat of his carried no racial restrictive covenants, but the adjacent Carleton Park Terrace Division № 3, filed in 1941, did, banning non-whites from living in the subdivision unless they were domestic servants of white residents.

Perkins Lane W

This Magnolia street boasts one of the best views in all of Seattle — a completely unobstructed vista of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympic Mountains — if you’re fortunate enough to own property there. The view from the street itself is mostly of houses to the west, forested slope to the east. Notable Seattleites such as developer Martin Selig, broadcaster Kathi Goertzen, musician Ryan Lewis, and co-founder of Starbucks and Redhook Ale Brewery Gordon Bowker have called the winding lane — and it truly is a winding lane, hugging the bluff with barely enough room for two cars to pass each other — home.

View of Perkins Lane, Elliott Bay, and West Seattle from Discovery Park
View of Perkins Lane houses from Discovery Park, with Elliott Bay and West Seattle in background, January 2021. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

The street was created as part of Carleton Beach Tracts, an Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington, on New Year’s Eve, 1920. The owners were Arthur Alexander Phinney (1885–1941), son of Guy Carleton Phinney, after whom Phinney Ridge and Phinney Avenue N are named; his wife, Daisy Euphemia Phinney (1884–1950); the Phinney Realty and Investment Company; and Oscar E. Jensen & Co., Inc. It begins at W Emerson Street in the north, just south of Discovery Park, and goes 1⅖ miles southeast to a roadblock a few feet beyond the bottom of the Montavista Stairs (more on that later). The roadway continues about 250 feet past the roadblock — all the buildings and lots on the west side belong to Martin Selig — and the right-of-way continues a little over 800 feet beyond that (see below for why).

The lane’s namesake had been a mystery to me for a long time, until I came across the Phinneys’ wedding announcement in the May 11, 1913, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Formal announcement made yesterday of the marriage at Victoria, B.C., May 2, of Miss Daisy E. Perkins, of Portland, to Mr. Arthur A. Phinney, of Seattle, contained the first intimation to local friends of Mr. Phinney of the nuptial event. The bride and groom had laid their plans in secret and protected this secret against all inquiring friends.

It seems, then, that we have a case similar to that of Thorndyke Avenue W — naming a prominent street after the wife’s maiden name.

For all its advantages, though — view, privacy (though it’s a public street, there are only a couple of ways to drive there from the rest of the city, plus two rickety staircases down from Magnolia Boulevard) — Perkins Lane has its faults, as the headline ‘Perkins Lane: Seattle’s Poster Child for Landslide Risk’ implies. A major landslide at the end of 1996 took out five or six houses, depending on whom you ask, at the southeast end of the street, and the adjoining roadway — hence the aforementioned roadblock. A lawsuit against the city, of course, was filed, but was dismissed at summary judgment. Slides had been a problem for the seven decades of Perkins Lane’s existence before that, as the images below attest. (The statute of limitations for false advertising has long elapsed, alas…)

Perkins Lane Slide at W. Ray St. (displacement of utility poles), March 22 1925, from http://archives.seattle.gov/digital-collections/index.php/Detail/objects/77613, Seattle Municipal Archives Identifier 38072
Landslide at W Raye Street, with tilting utility pole, March 22, 1925. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 38072
Sign reading "For sale by owner — best buy, best view on Perkins Lane — No slides — Civil engineer says "Good condition to build on" — ME. 3843, MA. 8847 — 150 ft. frontage — will divide" at 2461 Perkins Lane W
Land for sale! Who was that civil engineer, I wonder…
“No slides — Civil engineer says ‘Good condition to build on,’” 2461 Perkins Lane W, April 14, 1938. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 12194
Landslide at 2445 Perkins Lane W
Landslide at 2445 Perkins Lane W, January 27, 1954. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 44997
Ruins of house destroyed in Perkins Lane landslide on Magnolia beach in front of Magnolia bluff
Ruins of house destroyed in Perkins Lane landslide on Magnolia beach in front of Magnolia bluff, Photograph by Flickr user Whitney H, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

In fact, as the map below shows, there have been numerous slides over the years along the entire length of the road.

Perkins Lane W is also home to six of Seattle’s shoreline street ends — at W Bertona, Dravus, Barrett, Armour, Raye, and McGraw Streets, though McGraw is the only one currently accessible from land. The project to improve it back in 2013 and 2014 was not without opposition, but ultimately the threats never materialized (nor did the opponents’s fears). It’s well worth a visit.

View looking south from the W McGraw street end: Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and West Seattle
View looking southeast from the W McGraw street end: Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and West Seattle, November 5, 2014. Photograph by Flickr user Seattle Parks and Recreation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Fourmile Rock by Wikimedia Commons user Dennis Bratland, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fourmile_Rock,_Magnolia_at_low_tide,_with_yardstick.JPG, licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en, April 6, 2015
Fourmile Rock (native name reportedly LE’plEpL, La’pub, or Tc!ě’tla), northwest of the W McGraw street end, April 6, 2015. Photograph by Dennis Bratland, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

W Bertona Street

This street, as with Dravus Street, was created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, and is also is part of a series of streets — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. Montebello di Bertona (Mundibbèlle in the Abruzzese dialect) is a small town in Pescara, Abruzzo, located near Mt. Bertona.

Technically, W Bertona Street begins as Bertona Street at the Ship Canal Trail around 80 feet east of Queen Anne Avenue N, but both streets there are little more than parking aisles nestled up against Seattle Pacific University’s Wallace Field. W Bertona begins in earnest at W Nickerson Street and goes ¾ of a mile west to 14th Avenue W, where it becomes a block-long stairway to 15th Avenue W. On the other side of 15th, it goes two more blocks before being stopped by the BNSF Railway tracks at 17th Avenue W; on the other side of the tracks it goes ⅗ of a mile west from 20th Avenue W to 30th Avenue W, becoming a stairway again for a block just about halfway. As with its Magnolia partner W Dravus Street, it’s ⅓ of a mile from 31st Avenue W to 36th Avenue W, where it becomes a stairway for a block, and then ½ a mile more from 37th Avenue W to 45th Avenue W. There is finally a 300-foot-long segment west of Perkins Lane W, where the roadway ends. (There is a shoreline street end beyond that, but it is currently inaccessible.)

Dravus Street

This street was created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory by Edward Blewett and his wife, Carrie, of Fremont, Nebraska, who had purchased the land a few months earlier from Arthur Denny and John Hoyt. According to Valarie Bunn in her article “Fremont in Seattle: Street Names and Neighborhood Boundaries,” Edward Corliss Kilbourne may have done much of the actual naming of streets as attorney-in-fact for the Blewetts.

Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt's Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets
Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets

As can be seen in the plat map above, Dravus is part of a series of streets — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy, which had been unified 17 years earlier. I have yet to find a connection between Denny, Hoyt, the Blewetts, or Kilbourne and Italy. The closest I’ve come is an item in the February 28, 1903, issue of The Seattle Mail and Herald, which reports that “on February 27, the Woman’s Century Club met and discussed the subject ‘Italian Art and Literature.’ Mrs. Bessie L. Savage and Mrs. E.C. Kilbourne [Leilla Shorey] prepared papers relating to these subjects.” I would love to find out if there’s anything more solid!

The Drava River, which originates in the Italian region of the South Tyrol, flows from there through Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, forming much of the border between that country and Hungary, and joining the Danube on the Croatia–Serbia border. It was known as Dravus in Latin and Δράβος in Greek.

Dravus Street begins in the east at Nickerson Street and goes ⅗ of a mile west to 8th Avenue W and Conkling Place W. It resumes for half a block at 10th Avenue W, is briefly a foot path and stairway, and then is an arterial connecting Queen Anne and Magnolia via Interbay, going just over a mile from 11th Avenue W to 30th Avenue W. (This section was originally known as Grand Boulevard, and indeed W Dravus is double the width of the other streets in the area, though it features wide planting strips instead of a central median.) It’s ⅓ of a mile from 31st Avenue W to 36th Avenue W, where it becomes a stairway for a block, and then ½ a mile more from 37th Avenue W to just west of Magnolia Boulevard W, where the roadway ends. (There is a shoreline street end off Perkins Lane W, but it is currently inaccessible.)

W Armour Street

This street was named in 1890 as part of Gilman’s Addition to the City of Seattle, which, as noted in Gilman Avenue W and other articles on streets in that addition, was associated with Daniel Hunt Gilman and the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway (SLS&E).

In the below excerpt from Thomas W. Prosch’s A Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897 (1901), some of Gilman’s fellow investors are listed, including Judge Thomas Burke (Burke Avenue N, Burke–Gilman Trail), James D. Smith (W Commodore Way), and Herman Ossian Armour. (The D is a typo, perhaps because of his brother, Philip Danforth Armour’s, middle initial.) The brothers founded the Chicago meatpacking company Armour and Company in 1867. 

Paragraph on establishment of Puget Sound Construction Company in 1886
Paragraph on establishment of Puget Sound Construction Company in 1886

In his article “The Orphan Railroad and the Rams Horn Right of Way,” in the April 1923 issue of The Washington Historial Quarterly, C.H. Hanford writes of the SLS&E, “A number of Seattle men… subscribed to the capital of the new company to the extent of their means, and having gained so much, Gilman and Judge Burke were successful in inducing Philip D. Armour of Chicago to advance the money required to start the enterprise.” So it is unclear just which Armour brother the street is named for — perhaps it is named for them both.

W Armour Street starts at 1st Avenue N and goes two blocks west to 1st Avenue W, where it is stopped by Rodgers Park. It makes it two more blocks, from 3rd Avenue W to 5th Avenue W, before again being stopped, this time by Mount Pleasant Cemetery. From there it exists in a number of short segments, including paths and stairs, before being stopped, once again, by the Interbay Golf Center at 15th Avenue W. Once across the railroad tracks in Magnolia, there is a nearly uninterrupted ¾ mile stretch from Thorndyke Avenue W to the West Magnolia Playfield at 32nd Avenue W, and then a few more short segments west of 34th Avenue W, ending for good at 46th Avenue W. (There is a shoreline street end off Perkins Lane W, but it is currently inaccessible.)

W Briarcliff Lane

W Briarcliff Lane runs about 400 feet west from 39th Avenue W before it makes a 90° turn to the north and becomes Briarcliff Lane W. That segment runs about 200 feet north to W Dravus Street. A private road, it is part of the Briarcliff development on what was once Briarcliff School (1949–1984, demolished 2003). You can read more about the history of Briarcliff at HistoryLink.com and on the website of the Magnolia Historical Society.

As for the school’s name? In an article published August 21, 1948, The Seattle Times noted that “on recommendation of district residents, the board named the new school being built in the Magnolia area the Briarcliff School.”

W McLaren Street

Continuing the story we began in Hubbell Place, we take up W McLaren Street in Magnolia, which runs about 950 feet from Perkins Lane W in the west to 43rd Avenue W and W Ruffner Street in the east. 

As was previously mentioned, the ordinance establishing Hubbell Place “accept[s] a deed of conveyance from George S. McLaren, et ux, and Helen Moore Hubbell” for the land. Who was this McLaren, and was he the namesake of W McLaren Street?

Photo of George S. McLaren that ran in the August 4, 1911, issue of The Seattle Times

George S. McLaren appears to have been on the finance committee of the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, and Clarence Bagley’s History of Seattle from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time notes that he was among the founders of Seattle’s Nile Shrine Temple in 1908. He is mentioned in the press as being an investment manager for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, a founder of the Lake Chelan Land Company, and a representative of the Milwaukee Road in purchasing tideland real estate. And in February 1906, he was apparently one of the local businessmen who proclaimed, in the words of The Seattle Star, that “Something Will Be Done to Lift From the Shoulders of This City the Burden Placed There by the Sunset Telephone Co.,” and managed to get 2,000 similarly minded “long-suffering contributors to the yawning coffers of the Sunset concern” to assemble at the Grand Opera House to determine how best to “[remedy] the existing evil.”

In short, he does appear to have been, as The Hood River Glacier described him on August 10, 1911, “one of the leading business men of Seattle,” whose death “of ptomaine poisoning caused by eating canned mushrooms at a dinner at Tacoma” must have come as a great shock to the community.

As for W McLaren Street? It’s part of the Magnolia Heights subdivision, which was platted in 1907.

Advertisement for the Magnolia Heights subdivision in The Seattle Star, May 4, 1907

I thought it possible that George S. McLaren and W McLaren Street were related, but couldn’t be certain — nothing appeared in historical newspapers to definitively link the two. Then I looked him up in AncestryLibrary.com, which Seattle Public Library cardholders can access for free. And there it was! His probate records from 1911 contained an inventory of his assets, and among them were a “note of Magnolia Heights Co. for $333.33, dated September 5, 1907” and a “note of Parry Investment Co., for $155.64, dated July 17, 1907.” (Incidentally, both were valued at nil, though his total assets amounted to $367,228.76, or about $9.5 million in today’s money.)

Portion of inventory of the assets at death of George S. McLaren, from King County probate records via AncestryLibrary.com

As you can see in the newspaper advertisement above, the Parry Investment Company marketed lots in Magnolia Heights, which was platted by the Magnolia Heights Company. I’m willing on that basis to say that George McLaren’s name lives on in W McLaren Street. 

W Marina Place

This street, established in 1991 as part of the development of the Elliott Bay Marina at the southern foot of Magnolia Bluff, runs ⅖ of a mile west from 23rd Avenue W to just shy of the 30th Avenue W street end beach.

While the origin of its name may not be interesting, the story of its establishment is a bit more so:

  • The marina itself began the permitting process in 1983, but lawsuits delayed its creation for nearly a decade. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Suquamish Tribe sued to block its construction on the basis that “construction of the Marina would eliminate a portion of one of their usual and accustomed fishing areas in Elliott Bay and thus would interfere with their treaty right to fish at the Marina site.” Homeowners on the bluff above intervened on the side of the developers, as “the area has had numerous major landslides that have left several homes at the crest of the bluff at risk and have repeatedly caused breaks in a trunk sewer line located at the base of the bluff.… The Marina construction includes the placement of 500,000 cubic yards of fill at the toe of the bluff, which would stabilize the area.” Eventually, a settlement was reached, which “calls for ongoing fisheries-related expenses paid to the tribe, which will be funded by a percentage of the moorage income.… [the] ‘Indian Treaty Surcharge.’”
  • I believe this was the last major fill operation within Seattle city limits. Such a development would be all but unthinkable today.
  • The marina was built on tidelands where W Lee Street and Puget Avenue W were platted but never built. They were vacated and W Marina Place was established. When it came to naming the access road, the developers originally proposed W Marina Boulevard, contending that as the road fell between the W Oakes Street right-of-way and the former W Lee Street right-of-way, it wasn’t a violation of the city’s principle of maintaining street grid names as much as possible. This was initially rejected by the city, which preferred W Lee Street, but after further discussion, W Marina Place was settled on. An interesting point the developers made was that as W Lee Street had never physically existed in Magnolia, though it had been platted there, calling the access road W Lee Street could actually be confusing, as “people familiar with Seattle streets know that there is no W Lee Street on Magnolia. Rather, they know W Lee Street as being on Queen Anne Hill.” Still, though, I have to believe they were more interested in their own vanity — Marina Boulevard? — than any particular concern for folks’ ability to navigate.
  • For some reason, the public street ends just feet from the 30th Avenue W street end beach. I’m not entirely sure why that is; I don’t think the marina is opposed to public access to the beach; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in favor of the Magnolia Trail project, which would connect W Marina Place to W Galer Street, 32nd Avenue W, and thence to Magnolia Village.
Aerial photograph of Elliott Bay Marina area in the 1930sAerial photograph of Elliott Bay Marina area, present day
Elliott Bay Marina site, 1930s and today

W Ruffner Street

This street, which runs, with interruptions, for 2⅓ miles from Queen Anne to just short of Elliott Bay in Magnolia (though it is platted for several more blocks west over the tideflats) is named, as I learned from the Ruffner Family Association, for Presbyterian minister William Henry Ruffner. A slaveholder who “advocated the gradual emancipation and colonization of the state’s African Americans”, he was also, according to Encyclopedia Virginia, “the designer and first superintendent of Virginia’s public school system.”

How did this “Horace Mann of the South” end up with his name on a Seattle street? Apparently, in addition to being an educator, he was also a geologist, and so was hired by Thomas Burke and Daniel Gilman (of Burke–Gilman Trail fame), two of the founders of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, to spend just over five weeks in 1887 surveying the area, the results of which were published in the SLS&E’s promotional book A Report on Washington Territory two years later. When it came time in 1890 for the plat of Gilman’s Addition to the City of Seattle to be filed, Ruffner’s name appeared on the map. 

The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern became part of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1892. Today, the Interbay Car Shop of the BNSF Railway, successor to the NP, is located at the corner of W Ruffner Street and Gilman Avenue W.

Constance Drive W

This ⅔-mile–long Magnolia street is named for Mount Constance in the Olympic Mountains. Constance was the older sister of Ellinor Fauntleroy, namesake of Mount Ellinor and Ellinor Drive W. (There are no Magnolia streets named Edward, Arthur, or The Brothers.)

Ellinor Drive W

This short street in Magnolia’s Carleton Park subdivision is named for Mount Ellinor in the Olympic Mountains, which was itself named for Ellinor Fauntleroy, the fiancée of George Davidson of the U.S. Coast Survey, who named the peak in 1853. Nearby Constance Drive W is named for Mount Constance, itself named for Ellinor’s older sister.

Most of Magnolia’s streets follow Seattle’s cardinal-direction grid. Here, however, in the southwest corner of the neighborhood, they are laid out to follow the contour of the steep bluff that affords many streets a view of the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Range, or both.