Occidental Avenue S

Occidental Avenue S, which begins at Yesler Way in Pioneer Square, is one of those Seattle streets whose names extend into the suburbs. It makes its southernmost appearance at S 197th Street in Des Moines.

It received its name in 1895 as part of the Great Renaming — it had originally been S Second Street. It once had a partner, Oriental Avenue, to the east (originally S Fourth Street), which is today 3rd Avenue S. “Oriental,” of course, means “Eastern,” as “Occidental” means “Western.” (I haven’t been able to determine just when Oriental Avenue became 3rd, but it was last mentioned in The Seattle Times on October 17, 1920.)

And why this particular pairing? The Occidental Hotel, which once overlooked the beginning of Occidental Avenue, is almost certainly the reason, but it’s not spelled out in the ordinance.

Eagle Street

This 600-foot-long street, which runs from Western to 2nd Avenues a block south of Bay Street, was given that name by William Nathaniel Bell in 1881. In his plat, the large lot between Bay (then Grant) and Lake (now Broad) Streets west of Western Avenue (then West Street) was shown as occupied by the Eagle Manufacturing Co. On this 1884 Sanborn map, though, “Seattle Barrel M’f’y” appears instead. This historic survey says that the Seattle Barrel Manufacturing Company opened in 1880, but was located between Bell and Wall Streets, farther south.

At any rate, it would seem that Eagle Street was named after this Eagle Manufacturing Co., of which I could find no further trace; and that neither Eagle nor Seattle Barrel was there 30 years later, when the 1912 Baist atlas was produced, showing the land to be occupied by Union Oil Company of California (later known as Unocal).

Unocal — which, according to Historylink, had begun using the lot in 1910 — would continue to use it as a fuel depot and marketing terminal until 1975. Cleanup of the contaminated ground began in the 1980s, and the Seattle Art Museum purchased the site in 1999 with help from the Trust for Public Land. In 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park opened, completing the area’s transformation from open space to industrial area to open space once again.

(Local historian Paul Dorpat points out that the cove that once existed here could be [though never was] called “Eagle Cove” — both for Eagle Street and for the fact that Alexander Calder’s Eagle sculpture now makes its home in the lower half of the park.)

Alexander Calder‘s sculpture ”Eagle”

Bay Street

This street, which runs for a little over a tenth of a mile from Elliott to 1st Avenues, was originally named Grant Street by William Nathaniel Bell in 1881. 14 years later, it was one of the many streets caught up in the Great Renaming of 1895. Per ordinance 4044, it was “ordained… that the name of Grant Street from Elliott Bay to Depot Street, be and the same are hereby changed to Bay Street.” I can’t imagine it took its name from anywhere other than Elliott Bay.

Dilling Way

This street, which runs a mere 200 feet from 4th Avenue to Yesler Way in front of City Hall Park, is named for George W. Dilling, who was mayor of Seattle from 1911 to 1912.

In 1911, Mayor Dilling took an empty lot that until two years earlier had been the location of the Katzenjammer Castle, Seattle’s second city hall, and converted it into what is now known as City Hall Park — originally named Dilling Park in his honor. In 1916, the municipal offices moved once again, to the newly constructed King County Courthouse, then known as the City–County Building, across the Jefferson Street right-of-way from the park. They remained there until 1962, but the park retains the “City Hall” name.

In a letter dated March 29, 1937 from A.C. Van Soelen, corporation counsel for the city, to the Board of Public Works, regarding the ability of the city to restrict parking on Dilling Way, he writes that “Dilling Way apparently never was established or named by ordinance or other action of the City Council and was opened up or paved in 1915 or 1916, presumably in lieu of Jefferson Street which was closed between Third and Fourth Avenue though never formally vacated,” and suggests that the city council “affirmatively declare its policy” regarding the street by passing an ordinance. Such an ordinance was passed shortly thereafter, making the name of Dilling Way official. (Interestingly, that ordinance refers to the street as a “private way,” but the county’s quarter section map shows it as a public road. That same map shows that the walkway in front of the courthouse is still, technically, Jefferson Street.)