Maynard Avenue S

Maynard Avenue S, which was 8th Street in David Swinson “Doc” Maynard’s first plat of Seattle in May 1853, was given its current name as part of the 1895 Great Renaming. It begins today at S Main Street* and goes about ⅖ of a mile south to Airport Way S just past S Charles Street. There is another block-long segment in the Industrial District and then one of 2½ blocks in Georgetown. Maynard is generally credited with naming the town of Seattle, after his friend siʔaɫ, or Chief Seattle, and he was its “first physician, merchant, Indian agent, and justice of the peace.”

* As a card-carrying address nerd, I feel compelled to mention that the driveway for the Nippon Kan Theatre/Kobe Park Building at the dead end of S Washington Street is, technically, the northernmost segment of Maynard Avenue S, at least for its first hundred feet.

David Swinson Maynard, ca 1868, photographer unknown
David Swinson Maynard, ca 1868, photographer unknown

Maynard — unlike Republican Arthur Armstrong Denny, who platted the tract to the north — was a Democrat, and named a number of streets in his plat after prominent Democratic politicians, including the slaveholders President Andrew Jackson and Vice President William Rufus DeVane King; Oregon Territorial Governor Joseph Lane, who went on to be the pro-slavery Southern Democratic candidate for vice president in 1860; and pro-slavery California Senator John B. Weller. I haven’t seen much online about Maynard’s personal racial views, but he was known to have had good relations (given the era) with the local Native Americans, at least. Junius Rochester writes for HistoryLink:

Perhaps one of Doc Maynard’s most enduring qualities, besides his amiability, was his high regard for the local Indians. Chief Seattle was a particular friend, having stated: “My heart is very good toward Dr. Maynard.” Maynard, who knew tribulations in his own life, understood that besides the tools, medicines, guns, and other wonders that the white men had brought to Puget Sound, they also introduced disease, intolerant religions, and the inhospitable idea of private property.

But, as Clay Eals notes,

There can be no avoiding his privileged promotion of white settlers at Native Americans’ expense. “They will fight,” he writes on Nov. 4, 1855. “There is no reason why they (sho)uld not, but we must conquer them.”

One hopes that, if Maynard were alive today, he would choose worthier men (and women) to honor than Jackson, King, Lane, and Weller.

Edgar Martinez Drive S

This street runs ¼ mile from 1st Avenue S in the west to 4th Avenue S in the east. West of 1st, it’s S Atlantic Street — its original name — and east of 4th, it’s the beginning of Interstate 90. It is part of State Route 519, a short highway that connects I-90 to Washington State Ferries’ Colman Dock.

Edgar Martínez was a member of the Seattle Mariners baseball team from 1987 to 2004. This stretch of S Atlantic Street was renamed in his honor the year he retired.

Edgar Martínez at bat, September 15, 2004, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E_Martinez.jpg
Edgar Martínez at bat, September 15, 2004. Photographs by Galaksiafervojo, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Now — why is it Edgar Martinez Drive S instead of S Edgar Martinez Drive, since east–west streets in Seattle have their directional designators at the beginning? I asked Paul Jackson this in 2005. Jackson, who was then the Seattle Department of Transportation’s manager of traffic, signs, and markings, responded:

I appreciate your desire to see our City’s sign system remain consistent.… But ultimately, there is nothing requiring such a naming convention in the Seattle Municipal Code.… In this case, those proposing the street name change wanted to see Edgar Martínez’s name out front. Because this is only a three-block stretch of street (from 1st Avenue S to 4th Avenue S), and does not have any addresses along it, the decision was made to veer slightly from the typical naming convention. The term “drive” was agreed upon to evoke Mr. Martínez’s batting skills at the plate.

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.

S Addition Street

This Industrial District street — a mere 80 feet long — runs from Airport Way S east to the Interstate 5 right-of-way. It may very well be the shortest street in Seattle (I’d love to hear about other candidates).

As explained in SW Seattle Street, the plat of Judkin’s Addition to the Town of Seattle was filed in 1869. From north to south, the east–west streets are named Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle. (Did they really think B Street would last, I wonder?)

Of these, Norman, Judkins, Addition, and Seattle Streets remain, though Addition is the only one still in its original location. (SW Seattle Street now only exists for a few blocks in West Seattle, and S Norman and S Judkins Streets only east of Interstate 5.)

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.