Schmitz Boulevard

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.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seattle_-_Schmitz_Park_road_01.jpg
Schmitz Boulevard looking north toward SW Stevens Street and SW Admiral Way. September 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

According to the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks,

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.

Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map of Seattle's park system
Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map showing both existing (red) and proposed (red hatched) park features. Schmitz Park and Boulevard are at upper left. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 2333.

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 SW

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).

The Puget Mill Company, which once owned large swaths of land in the city (including what became the Washington Park Arboretum and the Broadmoor Golf Club), made two donations to the city in 1912, according to the Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners:

  • “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:

Map of Puget Boulevard, from King County Parcel Viewer
Map of Puget Boulevard, from King County Parcel Viewer

Once past the present site of West Seattle Stadium, the “contemplated boulevard to West Seattle” was to have run, as the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks puts it,

[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.

Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map of Seattle's park system
Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map showing both existing (red) and proposed (red hatched) park features. Puget Park and Boulevard are at lower right. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 2333.

Returning to the question of the name — the Puget Mill Company was, of course, named after Puget Sound, which itself was named in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver of HMS Discovery for Lieutenant Peter Puget (1765–1822).

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.

Patten Place W

This street was established in 1906 as part of the plat of Patten’s Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by Robert James Patten (1859–1919) and his wife, Harriet (Hattie) Flynn Patten (1866–1959).

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.

Obituary of Robert James Patten, The Seattle Times, October 6, 1919
Obituary of Robert James Patten, The Seattle Times, October 6, 1919

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.

Street sign at corner of Patten Place W and W Armour Street, October 17, 2021
Street sign at corner of Patten Place W and W Armour Street. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 17, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Surber Drive NE

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.

Clise Place W

This street is named for James William Clise (1855–1939), who is said to have come to Seattle with his wife, Anna Herr Clise (1866–1936), on June 7, 1889, the day after the Great Seattle Fire. Anna is best known for founding Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (today known as Seattle Children’s) in 1907. In 1890, James founded what is now Clise Properties. Over the years he, among other things:

  • 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.

JW Clise
J.W. Clise, from The Ranch and Range, June 26, 1902 issue

Bigelow Avenue N

This street was named for developer Isaac Newton Bigelow (1838–1922). The Queen Anne Historic Context Statement, as we quoted in Newton Street, says:

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:

It should be noted that since Bigelow Avenue N is part of Queen Anne Boulevard, the trees belong to the parks department, not to the neighbors. As with similar park boulevards in town, neighbors’ yards often encroach on the public right-of-way.

Street sign at corner of Comstock Street and Bigelow Avenue N, February 2010
Street sign at corner of Comstock Place and Bigelow Avenue N, February 2010. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Beginning of Bigelow Avenue N (Queen Anne Boulevard) at 2nd Avenue N and Prospect Street, October 2015. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Alonzo Avenue NW

This street was named for Alonzo Hamblet (1863–1937), son of Eli (1820–1905) and Mary Booth Hamblet (1840–1905), namesake of Mary Avenue NW. According to an article in the November 19, 1937 issue of The Seattle Times, the Hamblets had their homestead where Ballard High School is today. Alonzo was one of the men behind the West Coast Improvement Company that developed Ballard (then known as Gilman Park).

Alonzo Avenue NW begins at NW 67th Street just north of the high school and goes ⅖ of a mile to NW 75th Street.

Street sign at NW 67th Street and Alonzo Avenue NW, Seattle, October 12, 2021
Street sign at NW 67th Street and Alonzo Avenue NW, Seattle. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 12, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

W Blewett Way

This street is named for Edward Blewett (1848–1929), one of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood (named after his hometown, Fremont, Nebraska).

“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.

Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas Showing Fremont Cut
Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas showing Fremont Cut

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.

Van Buren Avenue W

This street first appears in the 1875 plat of the Northern Addition to Seattle, W.T., filed by James Marston McNaught (1842–1919) and his wife, Agnes Martha Hyde McNaught (1856–1918). James was “a wealthy lawyer working in the railroad industry.” I assume it was named for Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, and not for his namesake, Martin Van Buren Stacy, a Seattle real estate developer, though I wouldn’t be surprised if McNaught and Stacy knew each other, as their dwellings, in addition to that of Henry Yesler, were considered “the three most lavish mansions in the city.”

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.

Albert Place W

Our first paper street, W Semple Street, was in Magnolia, and so is our second!

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.

Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas
Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas

Fremont Avenue N

This street is named for Fremont, Nebraska, hometown of two of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood: Edward Blewett (1848–1929) and Luther Henry Griffith (1861–1925). The city itself was named after John Charles Frémont (1813–1890).

Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006
Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006. Opened in 1917, it has a clearance of only 30 feet over the Fremont Cut, which has caused it to become the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country. Photograph by Flickr user Mahalie Stackpole, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

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.

Thackeray Place NE

This street appears to be named for the British writer William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863), best known for his 1848 novel Vanity Fair. As local historian Rob Ketcherside explains in his blog post on “Renaming streets of Seattle’s Fremont to the U District”:

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.

(J.A. (Joel Abdon) Gould, incidentally, appears to have been the founder of the first bank in San Juan County, the aptly named San Juan County Bank in Friday Harbor. His wife’s full name was Anna Lucretia Cary Gould; their son, Eugene Cary Gould Sr., succeeded his father as bank president and was also the first mayor of Friday Harbor.)

Thackeray Place NE begins at NE 42nd Street and goes ½ a mile north to NE 50th Street.

Matthews Avenue NE

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.

John G. Matthews, from his obituary in the the November 16, 1937, issue of The Seattle Times
John G. Matthews, from his obituary in the the November 16, 1937, issue of The Seattle Times

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

This street is named for Martin Van Buren Stacy (1837–1901), who, according to local historian Paul Dorpat, “brought an inherited wealth to the cash-poor West and bought Seattle land” (and land elsewhere in Western Washington as well). The Northern Pacific Railway’s Stacy Street Yard was named for the street, but was renamed the Seattle International Gateway by Burlington Northern in 1985. His death at Green River Hot Springs apparently came as a shock to many.

Martin Van Buren Stacy, from his obituary in the April 18, 1901 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Martin Van Buren Stacy, from his obituary in the April 18, 1901, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He had died at Green River Hot Springs the previous week of “apoplexy.”

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

This street was named for Walter Graham (1828–1919), who came to Seattle in 1853. Three years later, he married Eliza Mercer, second daughter of Thomas Mercer (Mercer Street, Mercer Island), though she unfortunately died six years later. With his third wife, Elizabeth Crammond (or Crommon), he had a daughter, Nellie, who later married David Thomas Denny II, son of early settler David Thomas Denny (Denny Way). Graham’s brother, David, came to Seattle four years after his brother, and was one of the city’s first schoolteachers. He ended up marrying Eliza Mercer’s sister, Susannah.

Graham sold some of his southeast Seattle land in 1865 to Everett Smith, who filed the plat of Brighton Beach in 1890 on which what was then Graham Avenue appeared. He once owned what is today Seward Park on Bailey Peninsula, which was previously known as Graham’s Peninsula.

He was present at the Battle of Seattle in 1856, and is pictured below with fellow survivors Ira Woodin and Carson D. Boren (Boren Avenue).

Ira Woodin, Carson Boren, and Walter Graham, November 3, 1905
Ira Woodin, Carson Boren, and Walter Graham at Alki Point, November 3, 1905

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 Way

This street is named for David Thomas Denny (1832–1903). He was one of the members of the Denny Party that landed at Alki Point in 1851, led by his older brother, Arthur Armstrong Denny (1822–1899). In 1853, he married his sister-in-law, Louisa Boren (1827–1916). (Louisa’s older sister, Mary Ann Boren [1822–1910], had married Arthur in 1843. She, Louisa, and their brother, Carson Dobbins Boren [1824–1912], were also part of the Denny Party).

The Dennys settled on land in what is now Lower Queen Anne, living in a series of houses in the area until they went bankrupt in the Panic of 1893 and had to leave their mansion for their summer cottage at Licton Springs, where they lived with their oldest child, Emily Inez Denny (1853–1918), until they died.

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).

David T. Denny, 1890
David T. Denny, 1890. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 175313.

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.

Yesler Way

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 is also quoted as anticipating “Strange Fruit” by 55 years… though it’s by no means a sentiment Abel Meeropol or Billie Holiday would have shared. In January 1882, a mob lynched James Sullivan, William Howard, and Benjamin Paynes between two of his maple trees. Harper’s Weekly reported Yesler’s reaction: “That was the first fruit them trees ever bore, but it was the finest.”

Henry L. Yesler
Henry L. Yesler. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 12257

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.

Howell Street

This street is said to have been named for Jefferson Davis Howell (1846–1875), the youngest of 11 children of William Burr Howell and Margaret Louisa Kemp. He was himself named after Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederate States of America, who married his older sister, Varina Anne Banks Howell, in 1845. He joined the Confederate Navy in 1862, having earlier been a midshipman at Annapolis, and served until being captured in 1865.

Howell was captain of the SS Pacific, en route from Victoria to San Francisco, when it sank off Cape Flattery the evening of November 4, 1875. Only one passenger and one crew member survived of nearly 275 aboard, making it the worst maritime disaster on the West Coast to date. As Daryl C. McClary writes for HistoryLink.org:

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.”

The Plat of the Second Addition to the Town of Seattle as Laid Off by the Heirs of Sarah A. Bell (Deceased), on which Howell Street was first laid out, was filed on December 14, 1875, so the timing certainly fits the story.

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.

Leary Avenue NW

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. 

John Leary
John Leary

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.

Ballard Avenue NW

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.

William Rankin Ballard
William Rankin Ballard, circa 1917

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.)