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.”

NW Esplanade

More common in older cities like London (Aldgate, Cheapside, Crosswall, Eastcheap, Houndsditch, Lothbury, Minories, Moorgate, Poultry, Queenhithe, St. Mary Axe, and Walbrook, just to name those that merit a Wikipedia article of their own), single-word street names are a rarity in Seattle. NW Esplanade is one of them. It was platted in 1924 as part of the Golden View Addition, and its extension in 1927 as part of the Loyal Heights Annex.

NW Esplanade runs just over half a mile along the Puget Sound shoreline from Triton Drive NW in the northeast to just shy of the northern boundary of Golden Gardens Park in the southwest. For those who might not know, the word means “a long, open, level area, usually next to a river or large body of water where people may walk.”

Delridge Way SW

This street runs nearly four miles from Chelan Avenue SW, SW Spokane Street, and W Marginal Way SW in the north to 16th Avenue SW and SW Roxbury Street in the south — all the way from the Duwamish Waterway to the southern city limits. It was given its current name in 1940 — before then, it had carried the names of Youngstown Place, 21st Avenue SW, 22nd Avenue SW, McKinnon Place SW, 23rd Avenue SW, and 24th Avenue SW. As The Seattle Times explained on May 14, 1940, “Delridge” came from “the dells and ridges through which the thoroughfare runs,” and had been “suggested by West Seattle community organizations.”

E Foster Island Road

This street, which runs about ¼ mile from Lake Washington Boulevard E to the beginning of the Foster Point Trail, all within the Washington Park Arboretum, was without a name until 1968, when it was named for the island in Union Bay to which it led. (It remained unsigned until a few decades later, however. There was no sign at the intersection until at least the 1990s, as I know since my parents’ house was at the south end of the Arboretum and I drove or biked by there weekly, if not more often, while I was growing up.)

Foster Island is known by the Duwamish tribe, who once used it as a burial ground, as Stitici, or ‘little island’. It was named by the settlers for Joel Wellington Foster, who came to Washington in the 1870s from St. Joseph, Missouri. He is said to have donated the island to the city in one HistoryLink article, but another says the city bought it in 1917.

Island Drive S

There are only a handful of islands within Seattle city limits, and of them just one — Harbor Island — is large enough to have streets on it. But Island Drive S isn’t on Harbor Island — rather, it’s along the shore of Lake Washington, 5½ miles to the southeast. What gives?

As it turns out, Island Drive once was on an island — Pritchard Island. Known as tleelh-chus (‘little island’) by the Duwamish tribe, it was bought in 1900 by Alfred J. Pritchard (grandfather of Joel Pritchard, who was a congressman from Washington state in the 1970s and 1980s and its lieutenant governor in the 1980s and 1990s). In 1916, Lake Washington was lowered by 9 feet as part of the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and Pritchard’s island became part of the mainland.

It’s still known as Pritchard Island, though. Today, Pritchard Island Beach, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, and Be’er Sheva Park separate the island from the mainland.

Webster Point Road NE

This very short street in the Laurelhurst neighborhod — just over 200 feet long — was created in 1962 as part of the Webster Point plat. Why it’s a road rather than a place, lane, or court, I’m not sure — roads in Seattle (of which there aren’t many) are usually longer, such as Windermere Road NE, Holman Road NW, and Military Road S. It has the distinction of the lowest-numbered address on a north–south street north of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, as far as I am aware — 3000.

The plat and road are named for Webster Point, at the very southern tip of the Laurelhurst peninsula, which itself was named for Henry A. Webster, who once owned the land. This Webster appears to have been the Indian agent for the Makah tribe at Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula.

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.