NW Blue Ridge Drive

This winding, semicircular street runs almost ⁹⁄₁₀ of a mile from 15th Avenue NW and NW 100th Street in the east to Triton Drive NW, NW Neptune Place, and NW 100th Street in the west, descending 300 feet to Puget Sound along the way. Named after the Blue Ridge community, it was established in 1930 as part of the plat of Blue Ridge, an Addition to King County, Washington (rather than to Seattle, as the far northwestern section of the city wouldn’t be annexed until 1953).

Blue Ridge Realty office building, 9925 15th Avenue NW, Seattle
Blue Ridge Realty office building, 9925 15th Avenue NW, July 2021. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Blue Ridge was founded by aviation pioneer William Boeing (1881–1956), founder of what is today The Boeing Company. According to the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project at the University of Washington, marketing of plots began in 1934, and “sales began in earnest in 1938” when this racial restrictive covenant was established:

No property in said Addition shall at any time be sold, conveyed, rented, or leased in whole or in part to any person or persons not of the White or Caucasian race. No person other than one of the White or Caucasian race shall be permitted to occupy any property in said addition or portion thereof or building thereon except a domestic servant actually employed by a person of the White or Caucasian race where the latter is an occupant of such property.

Uniquely, as they note, the restrictions on membership in the Blue Ridge Club, established in 1941 and forerunner of today’s homeowner association, were slightly different:

No Asiatic, Negro or any person born in the Turkish Empire, nor lineal descendant of such person shall be eligible for membership in the Club.

They speculate this restriction on Ottoman citizens and descendants thereof was aimed at Sephardic Jews (Seattle is said to have the third largest population in the country), although if that is the case, I wonder why the restriction wasn’t against all Jews, as was done in Broadmoor and the Sand Point Country Club. At any rate, it would seem to have affected not only Sephardim but Arabs, Levantines, and North Africans in general. These restrictions were finally lifted in 1989, decades after they became unenforceable.

Blue Ridge says that “The development of the Blue Ridge community and the government-engineered policies of segregation brings some controversy to the early days of the neighborhood. However, today Blue Ridge is diverse and welcoming to anyone wanting to share in all that it has to offer.” As the interactive map on the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project page on Blue Ridge shows, though, the covenants had the desired effect — the neighborhood is still around 81% white, 12% Asian… and just 0.5% Black.

As far as being an “exclusive” neighborhood goes, Blue Ridge is more like Windermere than the above-mentioned Broadmoor and Sand Point Country Club; it features a private waterfront park, but all the streets are public, and there are even two very small public parks (Blue Ridge Circle and Blue Ridge Places) plus the wooded Mary Avenue Trail to the southern boundary of Carkeek Park.

Ten or so years ago I saw a Private Property sign at the trailhead, put up by the Blue Ridge Club, but it was gone the next time I visited — I can’t remember if I complained or someone else did. (The woods are private, but the trail is Mary Avenue NW right-of-way.) This wasn’t in the original plat, but according to an old Flickr chat I had with Andreas “Severinus” Breuer, “there was apparently a WPA project approved to install a 30′-wide gravel road between 100th and 110th (apparently now NW Carkeek Park Road).… I imagine the ravine would look quite different if a 30′ gravel road had been put in, so presumably this plan wasn’t carried out. But a 1940 engineering map shows a surveyed ROW from 105th to the Carkeek border, and in Carkeek there seems to be a route that follows the WPA route (Clay Pit Trail > Hillside Trail > Brick Road Trail > Road). Perhaps the trail that exists today was made by the original surveyors or by WPA men?”

NW North Beach Drive

This short street runs just over 750 feet from Triton Drive NW in the west to NE 98th Street in the east, just west of 24th Avenue NW. It was established in 1926 as part of North Beach, an Addition to the City of Seattle; at the time, it extended farther south, but that section is now 26th Avenue NW. The beach being referred to is on Puget Sound, across the BNSF Railway tracks from what is now NW Esplanade.

Although it bears the neighborhood’s name, houses along North Beach Drive are actually only eligible for associate, not full, membership in the North Beach Club, as the community boundary map shows. This is because the club, which originated in 1927 as the Golden View Improvement Club, was formed by and for residents of the Golden View and Golden View Division № 2 subdivisions, platted in 1924 and 1926, respectively. (According to state records, the GVIC was administratively dissolved in 1982 and merged into the North Beach Club [founded 1990] in 2006. [No word on what entity managed affairs from 1982 to 1990.]) In 1930, the club took over responsibility for the subdivisions’ water system from the developer, who as part of the deal deeded 1,500 feet of Puget Sound beach to the organization. It is this private beach, accessible via a short path from NW Esplanade at 28th Avenue NW, that is the North Beach Club’s primary raison d’être today, the water system having been hooked into the city supply long ago. Today’s associate members are the “descendants” of those who were interested in the Golden View additions’ water system 91 years ago but lived outside the subdivision boundaries — including residents of NW North Beach Drive.

Ridge Drive NE

This private road, which lies entirely within the Sand Point Country Club, runs ⅖ of a mile from the main gate at NE 75th Street in the south to the intersection of Fairway Drive NE and Lakemont Drive NE in the north. It is so named for its central location atop the hill that gives the adjacent neighborhood, View Ridge, its name.

As local historian Valarie Bunn explains on her blog, the Sand Point Country Club, founded by Samuel E. Hayes, opened in 1927. As with two contemporaneous developments, Broadmoor and Windermere, its exclusivity was a selling point. An advertisement in the May 5, 1929, issue of The Seattle Times spelled this out more explicitly than usual: “Sand Point Country Club homesites are selling fast… because every homesite owner enjoys forever a close-in retreat from Seattle’s mobs of tomorrow… because every homesite owner is protected in his investment by carefully drawn restrictions against the admixture of objectionable buildings or races.” The racial restrictive covenant covering the neighborhood reads:

No tract shall be sold, conveyed, rented or leased in whole or in part to any Hebrew or to any person of the Malay, Ethiopian or any other Negro or any Asiatic race, or any descendant of any thereof. No tract shall be used or occupied in whole or in part by any Hebrew or by any person of the Malay, Ethiopian or any other Negro or any Asiatic race, or any descendant of any thereof, except only employees in the domestic service on the premises of persons qualified as herein provided as occupants.

Hillside Drive E

This street in the Washington Park neighborhood runs ⅖ of a mile from Lake Washington Boulevard E and E Harrison Street in the south to 39th Avenue E in the north, about where E Ward Street would be if it extended that far east. It was created in 1906 as part of the (I’m going to use its full name!) Replat of John J. McGilvra’s Addition to the City of Seattle and Blocks 13, 14, 18, 20 to 29 Inclusive, and South Half of 19 of John J. McGilvra’s Second Addition to the City of Seattle. It once began farther south, at 39th Avenue E and McGilvra Boulevard E, but this portion is now part of Lake Washington Boulevard E.

The street was so named for running along the eastern side of the unnamed hill at the center of the Washington Park neighborhood.

Section of The National Map showing topography of Washington Park
Section of The National Map showing topography of Washington Park

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.)

Vashon Place SW

This street — just about 350 feet long, like its neighbor Blake Place SW — connects SW Othello Street to Fauntleroy Way SW just north of Solstice Park. Created as part of the Lincoln Home Addition in 1907 by builder Albert Eugene Felmley and his wife, Mabel L. Felmley, it is named after Vashon Island, located 4 miles to the southwest, across Puget Sound. The island itself was named for Royal Navy Admiral James Vashon by his friend, Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver, in 1792.

Two other streets in the Lincoln Home Addition are named for Puget Sound islands: the already-mentioned Blake Place SW, and Bainbridge Place SW.

Aerial view of Vashon Island from the northwest
Aerial view of Vashon and Maury Islands from the northwest. Photograph by Flickr user Travis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Blake Place SW

This 350-foot-long street connects SW Othello Street to SW Fontanelle Street just north of Solstice Park. It was created as part of the Lincoln Home Addition in 1907 by builder Albert Eugene Felmley and his wife, Mabel L. Felmley, and is named after Blake Island, located 4⅖ miles to the west, across Puget Sound. The island itself was named for U.S. Navy Commodore George Smith Blake, then head of the United States Coast Survey, by Charles Wilkes in 1841.

Two other streets in the Lincoln Home Addition are named for Puget Sound islands: Bainbridge Place SW and Vashon Place SW.

Aerial view of Blake Island from the east
Aerial view of Blake Island from the east (West Seattle in foreground). Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Bainbridge Place SW

This short street — not quite 275 feet long — connects SW Othello Street to Fauntleroy Way SW just north of Lincoln and Solstice Parks. Created as part of the Lincoln Home Addition in 1907 by builder Albert Eugene Felmley and his wife, Mabel L. Felmley, it is named after Bainbridge Island, located 5¼ miles to the northwest, across Puget Sound. The island itself was named for U.S. Navy Commodore William Bainbridge, commander of the USS Constitution, by Charles Wilkes in 1841.

Two other streets in the Lincoln Home Addition are named for Puget Sound islands: Blake Place SW and Vashon Place SW.

 

Aerial view of Bainbridge Island from the southeast
Aerial view of Bainbridge Island from the southeast. Photograph by Dicklyon, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

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.”