This road, and the park through which it runs, Schmitz Park (or Schmitz Preserve Park), was named for German immmigrants Ferdinand Schmitz (1860–1942) and his wife, Emma Althoff Schmitz (1864–1959). Ferdinand was a banker, city councilman, and parks commissioner. He and Emma donated land — mostly, though not entirely, old-growth forest — to the city in 1908, forming the core (just over 55%) of the present park.
The Schmitzes had four children: Dietrich, Henry, Emma Henrietta, and Ferdinand Jr. A banker, Dietrich (1890–1969) became president of Washington Mutual in 1934 and retired as chairman of the board two years before his death. He was also a member of the Seattle School Board from 1928 (or 1930; sources differ) to 1961. Henry (1892–1965) was president of the University of Washington from 1952 to 1958. Schmitz Hall, the university’s administration building on NE Campus Parkway, was named in his memory in 1970.
The roadway was originally envisioned as a continuation of the West Seattle Parkway, never realized, which would have connected Alki Beach to Lake Washington via a series of parkways. The built section is instead a short road that provided the only automobile entry to Schmitz Park, extending through an allée of trees and terminating at a pergola and shelterhouse.
The portion between 59th Avenue SW and 58th Avenue SW in front of Alki Elementary School having been closed in 1949, Schmitz Boulevard today begins at 58th Avenue SW and SW Stevens Street and goes not quite half a mile east, then southeast, then north, to SW Admiral Way and SW Stevens Street. It is closed to automobile traffic.
Puget Boulevard is a curious street, for a number of reasons:
The paved portions are only a few blocks long — hardly comparable to, say, Lake Washington Boulevard or Magnolia Boulevard;
Both east–west and north–south portions are called Puget Boulevard SW, contrary to the rule that directional designations precede street names for east–west streets (this is why Lake Washington Boulevard E becomes E Lake Washington Boulevard when it curves west on its approach to Montlake Boulevard E);
Despite its name, it has no view of Puget Sound, sitting as it does in the Longfellow Creek valley in the Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle;
And, as it turns out, it isn’t even named for Puget Sound, as might be expected, but rather for the Puget Mill Company (later part of Pope & Talbot and today part of Rayonier).
“A rugged tract of logged-off land south of Pigeon Point and Youngstown in the large unplatted area” (20.5 acres — this became Puget Park); and
“A strip of land 160 feet in width extending from Sixteenth Avenue Southwest and Edmonds Street (sic) to Thirty-fifth Avenue Southwest and Genessee Street, a distance of 8,500 feet, and comprising an area of about fifteen acres for parkway purposes. Under the conditions of this gift improvement work must be undertaken within five years. This acquisition forms an important link in the contemplated boulevard to West Seattle.”
This strip is today’s Puget Boulevard SW. Two things become apparent when looking at the King County Parcel Viewer map of West Seattle:
[Across] California Avenue a few blocks north of [the] present-day Alaska Junction, at that time part of the “Boston Subdivision.” It would have then headed northwest and down a ravine, eventually turning southwest to terminate at Alki Point.
Today, the paved portion of Puget Boulevard SW begins at 23rd Avenue SW, about 1⁄10 of a mile north of SW Hudson Street, and goes ⅕ of a mile south to a dead end. After a very short section — not more than 150 feet long — east of Delridge Way SW, which serves as a driveway for a complex of townhouses, it resumes west of a foot path off Delridge and goes about 1⁄10 of a mile west to 26th Avenue SW. Along this stretch, there are houses to the north and the Delridge P-Patch and Puget Boulevard Commons to the south.
According to an article in the October 29, 1905, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Robert bought the tract from H.M. Haller for $9,000. According to the obituary reproduced below, he was a “lumberman, contractor, and real estate man,” originally from Wisconsin, who had come to Seattle that very year, though he had been living in Washington since 1900.
Patten Place W begins at W Armour Street just north of Bayview Playground and goes about 420 feet north to a dead end, though the undeveloped right-of-way continues on for about 250 feet more to the likewise undeveloped right-of-way of W Barrett Street.
This street is named after William Harvey “Uncle Joe” Surber (1834–1923), who came to Seattle from Indiana in 1859, having spent time in Missouri, California, and British Columbia along the way. Valarie Bunn tells his story in “From Yesler to Wedgwood,” and his Find a Grave page reproduces his biography from Clarence Bagley’s History of Seattle from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. In 1861, he established a homestead in what is now Laurelhurst, on what was then the east shore of Union Bay but is now Yesler Swamp. He was appointed the first sheriff of King County in 1866.
Originally 39th Avenue NE in the plat of Belvoir, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by his executor in 1926, it and E 37th Street became Surber Drive in 1939. Today, Surber Drive NE begins at NE 41st Street and goes around 700 feet to NE 38th Street, where it becomes NE Surber Drive and goes nearly 1,000 feet to 42nd Avenue NE.
Helped the University of Washington relocate from Downtown to its current campus
Helped establish Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) in Magnolia
Helped Lyman Smith build the Smith Tower
Helped kickstart the agricultural industry in Eastern Washington
Founded the Washington Trust Company, which after a series of mergers is now part of Bank of America
Helped organize the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition
Helped fund the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Ballard Locks
Clise Place W originates in the 1928 plat of Magnolia View Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by the Clise Investment Company. It originally only went from W Howe Street at Magnolia Boulevard W to W Crockett Street, but now continues on to W Lynn Street and 33rd Avenue W, giving it a total length of just under ¼ mile.
In the early 1870s, the Denny and Mercer families gradually began to systematically subdivide their large land holdings on the south and east slopes of Queen Anne Hill. When a severe windstorm blew down thousands of trees in the north district in 1875, views opened up and land seekers turned their attentions beyond Belltown. Real estate speculators new to the territory arrived and began to buy up property on the crest of Queen Anne Hill. Some of these speculators also became developers, such as George Kinnear, or builder-developers, such as Isaac Bigelow.
Bigelow Avenue N forms a major part of Queen Anne Boulevard, the scenic loop atop Queen Anne Hill. It begins at 2nd Avenue N and Prospect Street and goes 9⁄10 of a mile to Wheeler Street between 4th Avenue N and 5th Avenue N.
Part of the street is lined with chestnut trees — not horse chestnuts, but the edible variety, specifically the Chinese chestnut, Castanea mollissima, according to the city’s records. My family (my mother was Korean) never foraged here, though we have done so elsewhere in the area, both for chestnuts and fiddlehead ferns. But plenty of others have, and continue to do so, as these articles show:
“But,” you might say, “if he developed Fremont, why is W Blewett Way in Queen Anne?”
As you can see in the map below, and in this plat he filed in 1888 of what is now Fremont and North Queen Anne before the Fremont Cut was dug, Ewing and Blewett Streets used to be part of both neighborhods. When they became separated, the names were left alone on the Queen Anne side; in Fremont, they were changed as follows: Kilbourne to N 36th Street, Blewett to N 35th Street, and Ewing to N 34th Street.
It’s not quite that simple, though — Blewett never reached quite as far as 13th Avenue W. What appears to have happened is that a name was needed when what is now W Blewett Way was created in 1907, and because the street to the south was still Ewing, Blewett presented itself as a natural choice. The rest of Blewett south of the canal was vacated over the years, so this is all that’s left of the name.
Today, W Blewett Way begins at the north end of 13th Avenue W and goes east just about ⅒ of a mile before it becomes a private driveway.
I wasn’t sure whether to label Van Buren Avenue a “paper street” or not. Unlike W Semple Street and Albert Place W, part of the right-of-way has actually been improved (see below). However, like those two streets, it is not signed; and unlike Semple, there are no buildings with Van Buren Avenue addresses. (There are two houses on the street, but one has a W Prospect Street address; the other, an Elliott Avenue W address.)
The right-of-way stretches from just southeast of W Prospect Street, northeast of Elliott Avenue W, to where the Magnolia Bridge onramp turns west at W Garfield Street. The first 350 or so feet are drivable. There is also a foot trail through the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt in the right-of-way, beginning at the east end of W Lee Street and heading southeast. Lastly, just under 600 feet of the Magnolia Bridge onramp is located in the right-of-way. It could conceivably be signed Van Buren Avenue W instead of W Galer Street Flyover, but this is not the case.
In 1907, Anna Sophia Brygger (1852–1940) (NW Brygger Place, Brygger Drive W) filed the plat of Lawton Heights in Magnolia. Because a good portion of it was taken up by what is now known as Kiwanis Ravine, many of the streets were only partially built (Fort Place, 35th Avenue W, 34th Avenue W, Brygger Drive) or never built at all (Northview Place, Albert Street [Alberta is a typo], Byers Place). For some reason, they have never been vacated, making them all paper streets, and unlike W Semple Street, they don’t even have any buildings with addresses.
Brygger had seven children, one of whom was named Albert (1887–1977). According to Paul Dorpat, he was at one point president of Peoples National Bank (now part of U.S. Bank). It seems a fair bet that she named Albert Street after him.
Fremont Avenue N begins at the north end of the Fremont Bridge (making it a continuation, in a sense, of both Dexter Avenue N and Westlake Avenue N) and goes 1⅙ miles north to N 50th Street and Woodland Park Zoo. It resumes north of the zoo at N 59th Street and goes 3½ miles to N 130th Street and Bitter Lake Playfield, a short portion of the block between N 61st Street and N 62nd Street being stairway. North of the lake, there are two short stretches: one going a couple blocks south from N 143rd Street, adjoining the Bitter Lake Reservoir, and another going a block south from the city limits at N 145th Street.
As with many North Seattle avenues, the Fremont name continues on into Shoreline. Its northernmost appearance is at the King–Snohomish county line at N 205th Street.
42nd St, 50th St, 1st Ave, and 5th Ave are the boundaries of the 1889 Harrison Heights Addition to the City of Seattle (annexed in 1891). J.A. Gould and Anna L. Gould, the owners, had the civil engineers draw a simple box around their property and didn’t bother to make their streets match those adjacent. But when the streets were renamed and woven together in the 1890s, 1st and 2nd Avenues bent west at 42nd while Latona, 4th and 5th bent east. Space for an extra road was left in between: Thackeray Place.
Their Dickens Street became 1st Avenue NE; Scott Street, 2nd Avenue NE; Cooper Street, Latona Avenue NE; Milton Street, 4th Avenue NE; and Kingsley Street, 5th Avenue NE. Thackery Street, as it was originally named, had no corresponding street in the already existing grid. (Why it was left alone instead of being renamed something like 2nd Place NE is unclear.) As Rob points out, these names are almost certainly those of the writers Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, John Milton, Charles Kingsley… and William Makepeace Thackeray.
This street was named by and for John Gill Matthews (1864–1937), who, with his wife and son, filed the plat of J.G. Matthews’ Lake Washington Addition, Division One, in 1930. In an extensive article on her blog, Wedgwood in Seattle History, Valarie Bunn tells his story, from his origins in Barbourville, Kentucky, during the Civil War, to his death in 1937, and beyond. For some reason, he, his wife, and three children moved to Seattle in 1910, when he was 45 and already had a well-established legal career in Kentucky. Once in Seattle, he became involved in coal, timber, and automobiles in addition to the law. It appears he and his wife separated around 1924, though they never divorced.
Fortunately for the citizens of Seattle, the Matthews family held onto the portion of their land on Lake Washington, and never developed it either before or after John Matthews’s death. Amy Matthews, who inherited the property, died in 1950, and the city was able to purchase the land for $70,000 the next year to create Matthews Beach Park, the city’s largest bathing beach. As Valarie explains:
The Matthews family was so willing to share the use of their property with neighbors that the area first began to be known as Matthews Beach in the 1920s while still under private ownership. The first appeal to the City of Seattle to buy the property was in 1928. Ironically the Parks Department vigorously opposed the purchase due to differences of opinion between those who wanted to acquire more parks in Seattle, and those who wanted monies to be allocated to maintenance of already-existing parks. Since the City of Seattle was not able to go ahead with purchase of the Matthews Beach property in 1928, the Matthews family could easily have redeveloped or sold the site at any time. It is a tribute to their stewardship and the efforts of north Seattle community clubs and activists that finally in 1951, the City purchased Matthews Beach.
Matthews Avenue NE begins and ends at Sand Point Way NE, going about ¼ mile in a semicircle from just south of Matthews Place NE to just north of NE 93rd Street.
S Stacy Street begins at Airport Way S and goes ⅕ of a mile west to 6th Avenue S. There is a block-long segment between 4th Avenue S and 3rd Avenue S, and then on the other side of the former Stacy Yard a two-block–long segment from Occidental Avenue S to Utah Avenue S and the world headquarters of Starbucks.
S Graham Street begins in the east at Wilson Avenue S and goes 2⅒ miles west to Swift Avenue S and 20th Avenue S, just east of Interstate 5. After a short segment between Corgiat Drive S and 16th Avenue S just west of the freeway, it next appears in West Seattle. Betwen 16th Avenue SW and 22nd Avenue SW, it alternates between roadway, stairway, and pathway, and there is a similar situation between 25th Avenue SW at Delridge Way SW and High Point Drive SW at Bataan Park. SW Graham Street begins again at High Point Drive SW and SW Raymond Street and goes 1¼ miles to its end at 50th Avenue SW,
Denny Park is named for the couple, which had given the land to the city as its first cemetery in 1861; the bodies were moved to the Washelli Cemetery on Capitol Hill in the 1880s, at which time the original cemetery was converted to a park, likewise the city’s first. (Just a few years later, Washelli was also converted to a park, initially known as Lake View Park, then City Park, and finally, in 1901, Volunteer Park. The Dennys’ private burial ground near the no-longer-existent Oak Lake eventually became the Oaklake Cemetery, which, after being sold by their son Victor in 1914, was renamed Washelli after the original cemetery of that name; Evergreen Cemetery, across Aurora Avenue N from Washelli, bought the latter in 1922, and the combined cemetery took its current name, Evergreen Washelli, in 1962.)
David Denny was active in government. According to HistoryLink.org, he was:
…Probate judge, King County commissioner, Seattle City Council member, a director of the Seattle School District, and regent of the Territorial University of Washington.… Denny was an ardent advocate of woman suffrage and helped lead the movement that in the 1880s won Washington women the right to vote. He opposed the expulsion of Chinese immigrants in 1886, which antagonized local nativists.
Denny was also involved in the development of a number of Seattle neighborhoods; in addition to Queen Anne, he developed tracts in South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Ravenna, and founded the Rainier Power and Railway Company, which ran the first streetcar from Downtown (Pioneer Square) to the University District (Ravenna Park).
Denny Way — originally named Depot Street by Denny after a proposed train station that never materialized — begins as a shoreline street end on Elliott Bay, indistinguishable from the surrounding Myrtle Edwards Park. On the other side of the BNSF Railway tracks, W Denny Way begins as a pathway and stairway from Elliott Avenue to Western Avenue. From here, it is a major arterial, becoming Denny Way as it crosses Queen Anne Avenue N (originally named Temperance Street by Denny), and going 2½ miles east to E Madison Street and 22nd Avenue. (It becomes a neighborhood street on crossing E Olive Way, and the block between Broadway and 10th Avenue E was renamed E Barbara Bailey Way in 2019). E Denny Way begins again at E Madison Street and 23rd Avenue and goes ⅘ of a mile east to Madrona Place E and 38th Avenue, where it turns into Madrona Drive.
Denny Way, which becomes E Denny Way east of Eastlake Avenue E, also divides five of the city’s directional designation zones from each other, similarly to Yesler Way. North of Denny but west of Queen Anne Avenue N, east–west streets carry the W prefix and north–south avenues carry the suffix W. North of Denny between Queen Anne Avenue N and Eastlake Avenue E, east–west streets carry no prefix and north–south avenues carry the suffix N. North of Denny east of Eastlake Avenue E, east–west streets carry the E prefix and north–south avenues carry the suffix E. South of Denny but west of a line that includes Melrose Avenue, Minor Avenue, E Union Street, and Broadway, neither east–west streets nor north–south avenues carry a prefix or suffix. And south of Denny but east of that line, east–west streets carry the E prefix and north–south avenues carry no suffix.
This street is named after Henry Leiter Yesler (1810–1892). Originally from Leitersburg, Maryland, which was founded by his great-grandfather, and living in Massillon, Ohio, before coming west, he moved to Seattle from Portland, Oregon, in 1852. As John Caldbick writes for HistoryLink.org:
…[Yesler] quickly established himself as the most important resident of the rain-swept little spot that would soon become Seattle. He had the first steam-powered sawmill on Puget Sound up and running within months, and for several years he employed almost every male settler in Seattle and a considerable number of Native Americans. His mill was early Seattle’s only industry, and without it the town’s development would have been greatly delayed.
Carson Dobbins Boren and David Swinson “Doc” Maynard had already claimed land on Elliott Bay either side of what is today Pioneer Square, but they gave him part of their claims so he could access the water from the claim he made farther up First Hill. Yesler’s mill was built at the foot of what is now Yesler Way but was originally Mill Street, also known as Skid Road — and yes, Seattle may be where the term originated, referring to a neighborhood largely inhabited by the “down and out.”
Yesler was also King County auditor in 1852, and Seattle mayor from 1874 to 1875 and 1885 to 1886.
Yesler had two children: a son, Henry George Yesler (1845–1859), by his wife, Sarah Burgert Yesler (1822–1887); and a daughter, Julia Benson Intermela (1855–1907). Her mother wasn’t Sarah, who didn’t come to Seattle until 1858, but rather a Duwamish woman named Susan, daughter of Salmon Bay Curley (Su-quardle), who had worked at Yesler’s mill. When Sarah finally joined her husband, he sent Susan and Julia to live with Jeremiah S. Benson, a cook at the mill. In the 1870 territorial census, Julia is listed as living with the Bensons, but the next year she is listed as a HB (“half-breed”) house servant for the Yeslers. Unlike Rebecca Lena Graham, who successfully sued the relatives of Franklin Matthias to be recognized as his rightful heir, Julia inherited nothing when her father died in 1892. Even so,
…The settlement of Henry Yesler’s estate was an imbroglio of epic proportions. It pitted Minnie Gagle Yesler [a younger cousin whom he married a few years before his death] and her mother against James Lowman [his nephew] and municipal authorities, who believed that Yesler had made a will that left most of his fortune, by then worth more than $1,000,000, to the city, hoping thereby to cement his reputation as the “Father of Seattle.”
Yesler Way begins on the Elliott Bay waterfront at Alaskan Way and goes 2⅙ miles east to Leschi Park, just past 32nd Avenue. It also appears just west of Lake Washington Boulevard, where it goes about 200 feet west and essentially serves as a driveway for a couple of houses.
Yesler Way, which becomes E Yesler Way east of Broadway, also divides three of the city’s directional designation zones from each other. South of Yesler, east–west streets carry the S prefix and north–south avenues carry the suffix S. North of Yesler, north–south avenues carry no suffix; east–west streets carry the E prefix east of Broadway and no prefix west of Broadway.
Although lost at sea, Jefferson Davis Howell was not forgotten by his many friends in Puget Sound. They had a 10-foot-tall sandstone obelisk erected in his memory at the Seattle Masonic Cemetery, established in 1872 and renamed the Lake View Cemetery in 1890. On the base of the monument is chiseled the simple epitaph: “Captain J. D. Howell, perished at sea on the steamship Pacific, November 4, 1875, aged 34 years.”
Howell Street begins at 8th Avenue and Olive Way and goes ⅓ of a mile northwest to Eastlake Avenue, just west of Interstate 5. On the other side of the freeway, it resumes at Bellevue Avenue as E Howell Street and goes ⅕ of a mile east to Harvard Avenue, where it is blocked by Seattle Central College. After a very short segment between Broadway and Nagle Place, it begins again east of Cal Anderson Park at 11th Avenue and goes ½ a mile east to 19th Avenue. E Howell Street resumes at Homer Harris Park at 24th Avenue and goes ¾ of a mile east to 38th Avenue, being a stairway and pathway between the alley east of 25th Avenue and 26th Avenue. It begins again at Madrona Drive and goes ⅒ of a mile east to 39th Avenue E and Evergreen Place. Its last segment is just over 100 feet long, from Lake Washington Boulevard to Howell Place and Howell Park beach.
This street is named for John Leary (1837–1905), a Canadian who came to Seattle in 1869. He became a lawyer in 1871, and was involved in various mining and shipping concerns, streetcar lines, utilities, railroads, and banks. He helped found the First National Bank of Seattle in 1882; in 1929, it merged with the Dexter Horton Bank and the Seattle National Bank to form Seattle-First National Bank, later known as Seafirst and bought by Bank of America in 1983. He also founded, in 1878, the Seattle Post, which merged with the Daily Intelligencer in 1881 to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Leary was a Seattle city councilman in 1873, 1875, and 1876, and was the city’s mayor in 1884 and 1885. He helped form the West Coast Improvement Company with Thomas Burke, William Rankin Ballard, and Boyd J. Tallman; they filed the plat of Gilman Park in 1889, which became the city of Ballard in 1890 and was annexed to Seattle in 1907.
Leary Avenue NW begins at NW Market Street just east of 22nd Avenue NW and goes ⅖ of a mile southeast to 17th Avenue NW. The arterial continues as NW Leary Way for another ⅖ of a mile, to NW 48th Street just west of 9th Avenue NW, where it changes names once again, to Leary Way NW, which goes ⅘ of a mile southeast to 2nd Avenue NW before turning into NW 36th Street.
This street is named after Captain William Rankin Ballard (1847–1929). Born in Ohio, he came to the West Coast with his family in 1857. They initially settled in Oregon, then moved to King County in 1865. (His father founded Auburn, then known as Slaughter.) Ballard attended the University of Washington for one year, in 1868, then was a schoolteacher, surveyor, and captain of the Zephyr, which took passengers between Olympia and Seattle. He helped form the West Coast Improvement Company with Thomas Burke, John Leary, and Boyd J. Tallman; they filed the plat of Gilman Park in 1889. The city of Ballard was incorporated the next year; it was annexed by Seattle in 1907. It was so named because, at the time, the tracks of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway stopped at Salmon Bay. Passengers had to disembark and complete the rest of their trip to Gilman Park via footbridge. Apparently one of Ballard’s friends who worked for the railway began referring to the stop as Ballard Junction, and the name stuck.
Ballard Avenue NW begins at NW Market Street between 22nd Avenue NW and 24th Avenue NW and goes ½ a mile southeast to 17th Avenue NW, where it becomes NW Ballard Way. Most of it is part of the Ballard Avenue Historic District. (NW Ballard Way goes a further ½ mile east and becomes NW 47th Street when it crosses Leary Way NW at 9th Avenue NW.)