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

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.)

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.