Joliet Avenue W

This street was created in 1895 as part of the Seattle Tide Lands plat (in full, Seattle Tide Lands as Surveyed and Platted by the Board of Appraisers of Tide and Shore Lands for King County, Washington). Streets were laid out from the northern tip of Magnolia (see W Semple Street) to West Seattle, but only the land southeast of Magnolia down to the Duwamish River was ultimately filled and developed.* (Magnolia’s tidelands were intended to become industrial land as part of the Bogue Plan, but this was rejected, and they have remained untouched west of the Elliott Bay Marina.)

* I certainly don’t want to minimize the extent of what was filled — over 92% of the tidelands, according to local historian and geologist David B. Williams.

As can be seen in the portion of the plat map reproduced below, the streets perpendicular to the shoreline in southwest Magnolia were named alphabetically after various cities in the United States. (Northwest of here, they were simply given letters of the alphabet, beginning with A and making it as far as O.) The namers began with Allegheny (Pennsylvania), and continued with Bangor (Maine), Chattanooga (Tennessee), Duluth (Minnesota), Erie (Pennsylvania), Fresno (California), Galveston (Texas), Hartford (Connecticut), Ithaca (New York), and our subject, Joliet (Illinois), before switching to yet another series.

Portion of Plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Smith Cove and Southwest Magnolia
Portion of 1895 Plat of Seattle Tide Lands showing Smith Cove and Southwest Magnolia

Most of these streets have been renamed or vacated, but for some reason this never happened to Joliet Avenue, even when the Navy took over the Smith Cove piers and uplands in 1941 and 1942 to form Naval Supply Depot Seattle. Today, this is the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 90/91 complex, but as the quarter section map shows, it’s still crisscrossed by public right-of-way. It may very well take the proposed redevelopment of the uplands and Washington National Guard armory site to eliminate these paper streets for good.

Brooklyn Avenue NE

This street was named after the Brooklyn Addition to Seattle, platted by James Alexander Moore (1861–1929) in 1890. The addition itself was named for Brooklyn, New York (see the history of the University District Paul Dorpat wrote for HistoryLink and this article on his own blog):

[Moore] chose the name because his addition “looked across the water” to Seattle proper like the New York borough of the same name that looks across the East River to Manhattan.

I haven’t been able to find an online source for this assertion, but Dorpat may have been referring to a passage in Roy G. Nielsen’s UniverCity: The Story of the University District in Seattle (1986), which quotes an article in the August 31, 1928, issue of the University Herald in which George F. Cotterill (mayor from 1912–1914) says:

[In 1885], there was no thought of a university and section sixteen was still untouched. J.A. Moore, one of the greatest Seattle real estate promoters of the time, started Brooklyn between 10th Ave. N.E. and the campus. This addition was intended by Mr. Moore to be to Seattle what Brooklyn is to New York.

Today’s Brooklyn Avenue is a block west of Moore’s. Again quoting Paul Dorpat:

None of James Moore’s street names survive. His Tremont Avenue became 15th Avenue. One block west he named University Way — the District’s future “Main Street” — Columbus Avenue. He called the future Brooklyn Avenue, “Broadway,” ­ and this was Moore’s intended “Main Street.” He called 12th Avenue “Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Avenue NE begins at NE Boat Street just north of Fritz Hedges Waterway Park and goes 1¾ miles north through the University District and Roosevelt neighborhood to NE 66th Street at Roosevelt High School. It resumes at NE 70th Street and goes just short of 300 feet to Froula Playground and the Roosevelt Reservoir. There is another segment between NE 75th Street and NE 77th Street and a final one between NE 80th Street and NE 82nd Street by Maple Leaf Reservoir Park.

Fremont Avenue N

This street is named for Fremont, Nebraska, hometown of two of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood: Edward Blewett (1848–1929) and Luther Henry Griffith (1861–1925). The city itself was named after John Charles Frémont (1813–1890).

Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006
Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006. Opened in 1917, it has a clearance of only 30 feet over the Fremont Cut, which has caused it to become the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country. Photograph by Flickr user Mahalie Stackpole, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Fremont Avenue N begins at the north end of the Fremont Bridge (making it a continuation, in a sense, of both Dexter Avenue N and Westlake Avenue N) and goes 1⅙ miles north to N 50th Street and Woodland Park Zoo. It resumes north of the zoo at N 59th Street and goes 3½ miles to N 130th Street and Bitter Lake Playfield, a short portion of the block between N 61st Street and N 62nd Street being stairway. North of the lake, there are two short stretches: one going a couple blocks south from N 143rd Street, adjoining the Bitter Lake Reservoir, and another going a block south from the city limits at N 145th Street.

As with many North Seattle avenues, the Fremont name continues on into Shoreline. Its northernmost appearance is at the King–Snohomish county line at N 205th Street.

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.

Canton Alley S

Canton Alley, twin to Maynard Alley a block to the west, is another one of the few named alleys in Seattle. It goes just under ⅕ of a mile from S King Street in the north to S Dearborn Street in the south, between 7th Avenue S and 8th Avenue S.

Similar to the one in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was named after the city and province of Canton in China, today known as Guangzhou in Guangdong province, from where the majority of Chinese immigrants to Seattle came.

As with Maynard Alley, even though Canton Alley had been called that for years, and was signed as such, its name was not officially made Canton Alley S until 2019, so that addresses from which 911 calls were coming could be more easily located and emergency vehicle response times could be reduced.

(The earliest reference I can find to Canton Alley in The Seattle Star, The Seattle Times, or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is an article in the February 12, 1911, issue of the Times.)

Portion of Summary and Fiscal Note to Seattle Ordinance 125753 Regarding Canton Alley S
Portion of summary and fiscal note to ordinance 125753 regarding Canton Alley S

One major difference between Canton and Maynard Alleys is the house numbers, as mentioned in the excerpt from the summary and fiscal note to the ordinance above. House numbers on Maynard Alley S follow the standard pattern; the 500 block of Maynard Alley is the one south of S King Street, due west of the 500 block of 7th Avenue S, that of 8th Avenue S, etc. But house numbers on Canton Alley S follow the “European system” (also used in American cities like New York), so very low addresses such as 9 Canton Alley S exist — quite rare in Seattle — and were not changed by the ordinance.

Aurora Avenue N

What is now Aurora Avenue N began in 1888 as Aurora Street in Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, previously discussed in our post on Dravus Street. Edward Blewett and his wife, Carrie, of Fremont, Nebraska, were the landowners, and Edward Corliss Kilbourne (1856–1959) filed the plat as attorney-in-fact for the Blewetts. Dr. Kilbourne (a dentist), was from Aurora, Illinois, and it seems to be generally accepted (The Fremocentrist, Wedgwood in Seattle History, Fremont Neighborhood Council, Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle) that he named the street after his hometown.

(I have seen elsewhere [HistoryLinkWashington’s Pacific Highway], that Aurora was given its name sometime in the early 20th century by George F. Cotterill, mayor of Seattle from 1912–1914, because it was “the highway to the north, toward the aurora borealis,” but they have the century wrong, and Aurora Street was no highway in 1888. In addition, those two pages call him “city engineer, later mayor,” but he was never city engineer — although he was assistant city engineer from 1892–1900. The Licton Springs Community Council mentions both theories.)

At any rate, Ordinance 6947, filed on June 6, 1901, refers to the street as Aurora Street, and Ordinance 7942, filed on November 5 of that year, refers to it as Aurora Avenue. I can find no specific record of the name change, but Ordinance 6864, filed on May 8, has to do with “altering, defining and establishing the names of streets in the City of Seattle in the portion thereof lying north of Lake Union, Salmon Bay and the route of the Lake Washington Canal,” and is likely responsible. (No text is available online for the ordinance, and the drafters of Ordinance 6947 must have neglected to take the change into account.)

Aurora Avenue N might have remained just another North Seattle street were it not for the decision to route the Pacific Highway, U.S. Route 99, across the Lake Washington Ship Canal there instead of Stone Way N, Albion Place N, Whitman Avenue N, or Linden Avenue N. As it happened, Aurora was chosen as the location for the crossing (known today as the Aurora Bridge), and the name was officially extended through Queen Anne to Downtown Seattle in 1930 in preparation for the bridge’s opening in 1932.

Lake Union, Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Fremont Bridge, and the George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge), Seattle, Washington, circa 1932, from https://flickr.com/photos/uw_digital_images/4860576629/
Postcard of Lake Union, Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Fremont Bridge, and the George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge), circa 1932. View looks southeast, with Fremont in foreground. Public domain image from University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.
Aurora Bridge, 2011, from https://flickr.com/photos/mlinksva/5996553637/, public domain
Aurora Bridge, 2011. View looks east, with Gas Works Park and Wallingford neighborhood at center, Lake Union and Capitol Hill at right. Public domain photo by Flickr user Mike Linksvayer.

Today, Aurora Avenue N begins at 7th Avenue N and Harrison Street by the north portal of the State Route 99 Tunnel and goes 7⅘ miles north to the city limits; the name continues 3 further miles to the King–Snohomish county line, and the highway another 12 miles beyond that to Broadway in Everett. A block-long segment from 6th Avenue and Battery Street to Denny Way has been renamed Borealis Avenue, and Aurora between Denny Way and Harrison Street is once again 7th Avenue N. A two-block-long segment underneath the north approach to the Aurora Bridge has also been changed to Troll Avenue N.

Ann Arbor Avenue NE

Another one of the “university” streets in the Hawthorne Hills subdivision, created in 1928, Ann Arbor Avenue NE was named for the University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It runs nearly ½ a mile from Pullman Avenue NE in the south to NE 65th Street in the north.

Pullman Avenue NE

This is another one of the “university” streets in the Hawthorne Hills subdivision, created in 1928. It was named for Washington State College, now Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington.

Pullman Avenue NE begins as an extension of NE 55th Street east of Princeton Avenue NE and goes ⅓ of a mile northeast to NE 60th Street, where it becomes 52nd Avenue NE.

 

Florentia Street

Florentia Street is the last in a series of streets, created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. From north to south, they are Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia. As can be seen in the plat map below, Florentia is not only the last in the series but the southern boundary of the plat itself.

Florentia is the Latin name of the city of Florence, known in Italian as Firenze.

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

Some detail in addition to that gone into in the post on Dravus Street:

Florentia Street begins in the east at 4th Avenue N (the southern end of the Fremont Bridge) and goes ½ a mile west to 3rd Avenue W.

Cremona Street

Cremona Street is another street created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, 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. Cremona, or Cremùna in the local dialect, is a city in Lombardy, perhaps best known for its luthiers, most notably Antonio Stradivari.

Cremona Street begins in the east at the Ship Canal Trail and goes ¼ of a mile west to 3rd Avenue W and the entrance to Seattle Pacific University. On the other side of campus it goes a further ⅕ of a mile west from 6th Avenue W to 9th Avenue W.

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.)

S Fontanelle Street

This fragmented street starts at Rainier Avenue S and travels two blocks west to 46th Avenue S. It makes its next appearance in Beacon Hill as a block-long street hanging off Military Road S, just east of Interstate 5. There are a few more blocks in South Park, from 5th to 2nd Avenues S, then half a block in West Seattle just west of California Avenue SW and a few final blocks from just east of Vashon Place SW to 47th Avenue SW at Lincoln Park. It is named for Fontanelle, Iowa, where Joseph and Catherine (Henderson) Dunlap (of S Henderson Street) lived before coming to Seattle in 1869.

S Fairbanks Street

This street runs not quite 300 feet from Martin Luther King Jr. Way S in the east to 42nd Avenue S in the west, just south of S Henderson Street. Like nearby Valdez Avenue S and Yukon Avenue S, it was established in 1905 as part of Dunlap’s Supplemental to the City of Seattle, and, in keeping with the Alaska theme, was named after the city of Fairbanks, which had been founded just four years earlier. (Fairbanks itself was named after Indiana Senator Charles Warren Fairbanks [1897–1905], who was vice president under Theodore Roosevelt from 1905 to 1909.) 

Valdez Avenue S

This short street (just ⅛ of a mile long) connects Martin Luther King Jr. Way S to Yukon Avenue S in Seattle’s Dunlap neighborhood. Established in 1905 as part of Dunlap’s Supplemental to the City of Seattle, it was named after Valdez, Alaska, which was itself named after Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. (Other streets in the plat include the above-mentioned Yukon Avenue as well as Tanana Drive, Fairbanks Drive, and Rampart Drive. Tanana Drive is now part of S Henderson Street; Fairbanks Drive is now S Fairbanks Street; and Rampart Drive is now part of S Director Street.)

I haven’t been able to find a specific connection the Hulbert or Dunlap families might have with Alaska, but 1905 was just six years after the Klondike Gold Rush ended, and just four years before the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition. Seattle’s population went from 42,837 in 1890 to 80,671 in 1900 — an increase of 88% — and much of this was due to its central role in the gold rush as “the premier supply centre and the departure point for the gold fields.”

Cherry Street

Cherry Street was among the first streets platted in Seattle on May 23, 1853. Sophie Frye Bass, author of Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle, writes:

I choose to think that Cherry Street is named for the little town of Cherry Grove, Illinois — Mother’s birthplace — where the Dennys started on their long journey over the Oregon Trail.

“Mother,” in this case, refers to Louisa Catherine Denny Frye, one of three children of Arthur Armstrong Denny and Mary Ann Boren Denny of the Denny Party. She was 7 years old when they landed at Alki Point in November 1851.

In 2006, Hunter Brown wrote a People’s History essay for HistoryLink, “Finding Cherry Grove,” detailing his efforts to locate Cherry Grove, whose name was later changed to Cedar Township. The nearest town today is called Abingdon.

Bass began her Pig-Tail Days piece on Cherry Street by calling it “another up-and-up street… with no interferences. It begins at First Avenue, goes east and ends at Thirty-seventh avenue.” This is no longer quite the case because of a very small gap at the south end of the Seattle University campus. Today, Cherry begins at 1st Avenue and ends a block east of Broadway. It starts up again a couple hundred feet to the east as a continuation of the James Street/E James Way arterial, and then does go on to 37th Avenue in Madrona. All told it is 2⅓ miles long.

Canterbury Lane E

This stub of a street in Madison Park serves mostly as a driveway to the Canterbury Shores Condominiums, although it is public right-of-way. It appears to have been dedicated to the public in 1965, and its name was changed from 40th Avenue E the next year.

My assumption is the street was named for the condominiums, and that the condominiums were named for the Canterbury subdivision to the south, which was laid out in 1951. According to Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, John L. Scott’s Canterbury Land Company purchased the land in 1938.

E Interlaken Boulevard

The establishment of E Interlaken Boulevard — the first of Seattle’s Olmsted parks and boulevards we’re covering — was first proposed, according to Seattle parks historian Don Sherwood, in 1903 as Volunteer Hill Parkway. Two years later, the current name was adopted. There is speculation, but no documentation, that it was named for the Swiss resort town of that name. Ask a Seattleite how to pronounce “Interlaken” and you may hear either lake or lock, the latter being more common according to an informal Twitter poll I ran (but the former being the one I grew up with).

Interlaken Boulevard runs for about 1⅔ miles west to east from Delmar Drive E, by Seattle Preparatory School on Capitol Hill, to Lake Washington Boulevard E, in the Washington Park Arboretum. The middle section, between 19th and 21st Avenues E, is closed to motor vehicles and functions as a pedestrian and bicycle trail. The name also appears on Interlaken Drive E and Interlaken Place E — and should not be confused with Interlake Avenue N, a street in North Seattle.

Advertisement for Interlaken in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 30, 1906
Advertisement for Interlaken in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 30, 1906
Street sign at corner of Lake Washington Boulevard E and E Interlaken Boulevard, October 11, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.
Street sign at corner of Lake Washington Boulevard E and E Interlaken Boulevard. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 11, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

SW Seattle Street

What better way to start things off than with SW Seattle Street?

SW Seattle Street is a minor residential street in West Seattle that runs about ³/₁₀ of a mile from 42nd Avenue SW in the east to Sunset Avenue SW in the west.

It might seem strange that such a short street would be chosen to bear the city’s name — it was the only one to do so until 2010, when the first two blocks of Airport Way S were renamed Seattle Boulevard S — but this has more to do with unimaginative naming than with civic pride.

On August 4, 1869, Ike M. Hall — the executor of the estate of Norman B. Judkins — filed the Judkin’s (sic) Addition to the Town of Seattle, located just southwest of where the interchange between I-5 and I-90 is today. From north to south, the east–west streets are named Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle.

Portions of the original Seattle Street were vacated over the years (for example, in 1900, 1957, and 2000), and the construction of I-5 took care of the rest. However, when the city annexed West Seattle in 1907 it changed the name of Maple Street to W Seattle Street as part of rationalizing the street grid… and so the name lives on.

(The city itself, of course, was named after Si’ahl [siʔaɫ], better known in English as Chief Seattle of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes.)

siʔaɫ, or Chief Seattle
The only known photograph of Chief Seattle (1786?–1866), taken by E.M. Sammis in 1864

So, why SW Seattle Street instead of Seattle Street SW?

In Seattle, east–west streets have the directional come first, and north–south avenues have it come last. The Wikipedia article “Street layout of Seattle,” which I helped write, has a more comprehensive description of Seattle’s addressing system, including the answer to this question:

Why was it W Seattle Street in 1907 but SW Seattle Street now?

In 1961, city ordinance 89910 “established a standard system of street name designations” so that in almost all cases streets within a given zone would carry the same directional. West Seattle avenues already carried the SW designation.