Westlake Avenue

Forming a trio with Eastlake Avenue and Northlake Way, Westlake Avenue is so named for running along the western shore of Lake Union. Beginning today at Stewart Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue, just north of McGraw Square, it runs 2½ miles north to 4th Avenue N between Nickerson Street and Florentia Street — the south end of the Fremont Bridge.

Westlake neighborhood and Mount Rainier from the Aurora Bridge, June 23, 2006
Westlake neighborhood and Mount Rainier from the Aurora Bridge, June 23, 2006. Photograph by Flickr user Steve Voght, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Westlake Avenue once started a couple of blocks to the south, at 4th Avenue and Pike Street, and based on the quarter section map, it appears that its former route through Westlake Park between Pike Street and Pine Street is still public right-of-way as opposed to park land. (The portion between Pine Street and Olive Way was vacated in 1986 to make way for the Westlake Center mall, which opened in 1988, and the portion between Olive Way and Stewart Street was closed in 2010 to allow for the expansion of McGraw Square.)

Monorail and streetcar, corner of Westlake Avenue and Olive Way, in 2008
Monorail and streetcar, corner of Westlake Avenue and Olive Way, in 2008. Photograph by Flickr user Oran Viriyincy, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Westlake was extended south to 4th and Pike from Denny Way in 1902 (one former mayor has called for that extension to be closed to cars); the original Westlake Avenue (now, properly, Westlake Avenue N) was created in 1895 as part of the Great Renaming ordinance, Section 5 of which reads

That the names of Rollin Street, Lake Union Boulevard and Lake Avenue from Depot Street [changed by the same ordinance to Denny Way] to Florentia Street, be and the same are hereby changed to Westlake Avenue.

Rollin Street, the southernmost portion, was named for Rolland Herschel Denny (1851–1939), the youngest member of the Denny Party at just six weeks old. In its honor, an apartment complex that opened at the corner of Westlake and Denny in 2008 is named Rollin Street Flats.

Rollin Street Flats, northeast corner of Westlake Avenue N and Denny Way, South Lake Union
Rollin Street Flats, northeast corner of Westlake Avenue N and Denny Way, South Lake Union, October 22, 2017. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Northlake, Eastlake, Westlake… why no Southlake?

Having covered Northlake, Eastlake, and Westlake so far, one might ask: why is there no Southlake?

There does appear to have been a Southlake Avenue for a time — 1909 to 1924 or so, based on the last mention of it I could find in Seattle newspapers, an article in the August 8, 1924, edition of The Seattle Times on a car crash that had taken place a number of weeks earlier. Now the northern section of Fairview Avenue N, it extended from the intersection of Valley Street northwest to E Galer Street and Eastlake Avenue E, “thus eliminating the present grade on Eastlake for University traffic” in the words of a real estate advertisement in the August 23, 1914, edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. But why the Southlake name disappeared seems clear: once it was decided to extend the Fairview name along the shore lands, there was no other appropriate road to carry it. The northern and eastern shores of Lake Union are just shy of 2 miles long each, but since the lake is shaped like a 𝒱 (and, surprisingly, like a uterus if Portage Bay is included) there is hardly any southern shore to speak of — only about ¼ mile.

As for the neighborhood name, I’m not sure why South Lake Union came to be used instead of Southlake. Perhaps it’s as simple as the lack of a similarly named street to “anchor” the neighborhood.

Eastlake Avenue E

Like NE Northlake Way, Eastlake Avenue E is so named because it runs along the shore of Lake Union — in this case, obviously, the eastern one. It, too, was earlier named Lake Avenue (in part), but this was changed as part of the Great Renaming of 1895. Ordinance 4044, Section 6 reads

That the names of Albert Street, Waterton Street, Lake Avenue and Green Street from Depot Street [changed by the same ordinance to Denny Way] to the shore of Lake Union at the northerly point of the Denny–Fuhrman addition, be and the same are hereby changed to Eastlake Avenue.

Today, Eastlake, at 2⁹⁄₁₀ miles in length, extends slightly farther north and south than the roadway mentioned in the ordinance. It starts in the south at the intersection of Court Place and Howell Street as Eastlake Avenue, then becomes Eastlake Avenue E a block north as it crosses Denny Way. From here to just south of E Galer Street it divides the Avenue: E; Street: E section of town from the Avenue: N; Street section. Just north of Portage Bay Place E it crosses Lake Union as the University Bridge, then continues on as the one-way–northbound Eastlake Avenue NE to 11th Avenue NE just north of NE 41st Street. (Southbound, it is fed by Roosevelt Way NE at NE Campus Parkway.)

Eastlake, like Fairview and Boren Avenues, is one of the few north–south streets in Seattle to have three different directional designations.

Looking northeast at the University Bridge from the Ship Canal Bridge in Seattle, July 2018
Looking northeast at the University Bridge from the Ship Canal Bridge, July 2018. Photograph by SounderBruce, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

NE Northlake Way

As explained in NE Boat Street, NE Northlake Way was originally Lake Avenue in the 1890 Brooklyn Addition to Seattle, so named because it ran along the northern shore of Lake Union. I couldn’t find an ordinance changing its name from Lake Avenue (used elsewhere, notably for what are now Westlake Avenue and Fremont Avenue N and for part of Eastlake Avenue E) to Northlake Avenue, but the latter name begins to appear in local newspapers in 1901. (Complicating matters slightly, the street appears as North Lake Avenue in the state’s 1907 plat of Lake Union Shore Lands.) Northlake Avenue began being referred to as Northlake Way in 1935, and this was made official in 1956.

Today, NE Northlake Way begins at the west end of NE Pacific Street under the University Bridge at Eastlake Place NE, and continues 1½ miles west to just shy of the Aurora Bridge, where it becomes a private road through formerly industrial land developed by the Fremont Dock Company into a business park. (The Puget Sound Business Journal and The Seattle Times have good articles on how over the years Suzie Burke transformed her father’s Burke Millwork Co., which opened in 1939, into what is today home to local offices for Google and Adobe and corporate headquarters for Tableau and Brooks Sports, among other tenants.) This private roadway continues for ⅖ of a mile beyond the end of the public right-of-way to the intersection of N Canal Street, N 34th Street, and Phinney Avenue N.

NE Northlake Way once began ⅖ of a mile further east, at NE Columbia Road on the University of Washington South Campus, but this stretch was changed to NE Boat Street in 1962, not without some controversy.

Bay Terrace Road

To reach their homes, residents of Bay Terrace — east of Lawtonwood and west of Land’s End at the northern tip of Magnolia — must drive through Discovery Park. Within the park, their street (the narrow neighborhood only has one) is known as Bay Terrace Road, but changes to 42nd Avenue W north of the park boundary. Similarly to Lawtonwood Road, it does not appear to have been officially so designated until 2007, when ordinance 122503 was passed. Also similarly to Lawtonwood Road, it carries no directional designation, since it is a park boulevard.

Bay Terrace Road runs ¼ mile north from Lawtonwood Road just west of 40th Avenue W, and then becomes 42nd Avenue W, which continues on for another ⅕ of a mile to a viewpoint overlooking Shilshole Bay.

Lawtonwood Road

Lawtonwood Road is one of the many Magnolia streets, like W Government Way, W Fort Street, and W Lawton Street, related to Fort Lawton, which was opened by the U.S. Army in 1900 and is now Discovery Park. (The fort itself was named for Major General Henry Ware Lawton [1843–1899]). It runs ⅓ of a mile northwest from 40th Avenue W to the intersection of 45th Avenue W and W Cramer Street.

The neighborhood of Lawtonwood, or Lawton Wood — both spellings have been in use over the years — is perched atop Discovery Park north of W Cramer Street. Lawtonwood Road, which goes through the park, is the only way in or out. It would have been a natural part of Fort Lawton, and it certainly would have made a great addition to the park, but as local historian Paul Dorpat explains in his introduction to the neighborhood

Steady white settlement started in 1875 when German immigrant Christian Scheuerman moved to the area, cleared the timber and married a native woman who had ten children before she died in 1884. In 1895 Seattle boosters organized to attract a military post to the area and gathered the acreage that is now Fort Lawton–Discovery Park. The part of it that is now Lawton Wood… is not part of the military holding because Scheuerman withheld it.

It should not be thought that Scheuerman cared nothing at all for the defense of Seattle — he and his family did donate 26.13 acres to the cause — though that made up less than 4% of the 704.21 acres given in total. (The single largest contributors of land were Thomas W. Prosch and his wife, Virginia, who gave 330.97 acres, a full 47%.)

Dorpat continues:

Soon after the military moved in next door, this protected enclave was improved with mansions of a few of Seattle’s elite. In 1952 these neighbors — about 30 houses sparingly distributed about a generous 30 acres – organized the Lawton Wood Improvement Club, waving the motto “To Beautify and Develop Lawton Wood.” By the time that the last of the Scheuermans, Ruby, moved out in the late 1970s, the beautifying had turned more to developing, and the lots got smaller.

The first reference to Lawtonwood Road I was able to find in The Seattle Times or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is from 1935, but it does not appear to have been officially so designated until 2007. According to ordinance 122503, park roads “are considered ‘private’” — technically residents of Lawtonwood and Bay Terrace had no legal right to transit the park to reach their homes, though of course they had never been prevented from doing so. To rectify this and other issues, and in anticipation of the privatization of the residences on Officers’ Row and Montana Circle, the ordinance made Lawtonwood Road, Bay Terrace Road, Utah Street, Washington Avenue, California Avenue, Iowa Street, Illinois Avenue, Texas Way, Idaho Avenue and 45th Avenue W “public park boulevards.”

Note, by the way, that none of these streets except 45th Avenue W contain a directional designation. Ordinarily one would expect to see W Lawtonwood Road, or Lawtonwood Road W, but park roads in Seattle carry no directional designation. An exception seems to have been made for 45th Avenue W, presumably because a numbered avenue with no directional designation “belongs” in Madrona or Leschi, seven miles to the southeast.

Scheuerman Creek just east of 45th Avenue W in the Lawtonwood neighborhood. 45th Avenue W is part of Discovery Park, but the creek is on private property. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, January 31, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.
Scheuerman Creek just east of 45th Avenue W in the Lawtonwood neighborhood. As noted above, 45th Avenue W is part of Discovery Park, but the creek is on private property. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, January 31, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

W Lawton Street

Lawton Street originated as Lawton Place in the 1905 plat of Lawton Park, an Addition to the City of Seattle. Like Government Way and Fort Street, it was named for its proximity to Fort Lawton, which had been opened by the U.S. Army in 1900. The fort itself was named for Major General Henry Ware Lawton (1843–1899), who was killed in December 1899 in the Battle of Paye of the Philippine–American War.

The bulk of W Lawton Street comes not from the Lawton Park plat, which covered 34th Avenue W to 36th Avenue W, but from a grant from the federal government in 1909 for sewer and street purposes. Lawton Street was laid out along the north edge of the fort, from its northwest corner at 36th Avenue W to what is now 40th Avenue W. There is a short discontinuity beginning about 250 feet east of 40th Avenue W consisting of a footpath and stairs; I’m not sure when that was created, but I don’t think it was the original configuration, as that would have defeated the purpose of the street.

 

W Fort Street

Fort Street originated as Fort Place in the 1905 plat of Lawton Park, an Addition to the City of Seattle. It originally formed part of the “government roadway leading from the east boundary of the military reservation of Fort Lawton,” but in 1961 four of its blocks were officially renamed W Government Way. What remains today is a one-block stretch between 36th Avenue W and 35th Avenue W, a three-block stretch between Kiwanis Memorial Reserve Park and 32nd Avenue W, and a bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks from 28th Avenue W and Gilman Avenue W to 27th Avenue W.

W Government Way

In 1897 a number of Magnolia landowners deeded to the federal government land for “a government roadway leading from the east boundary of the military reservation of Fort Lawton,” which was to open in 1900, to a wharf at what is now 27th Avenue W and W Commodore Way. At some point between then and 1907, when it appears in in the plat of Lawton Heights, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by Anna S. Brygger (see Brygger Drive W and NW Brygger Place), it became known as Government Way. (There are similarly named streets in Spokane leading to the former Fort George Wright and in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, leading to the former Fort Sherman.)  

The street was initially known as Government Way only from 32nd Avenue W to the east gate of the fort at 36th Avenue W (now the main entrance to Discovery Park), but in 1961 the name was extended to cover 32nd Avenue W north to W Fort Street as well as W Fort Street east to Gilman Avenue W, so today its length is about ½ a mile in total.

Street sign at the corner of W Government Way, 36th Avenue W, and Discovery Park Boulevard, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.
Street sign at the corner of W Government Way, 36th Avenue W, and Discovery Park Boulevard, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Canton Alley S

Canton Alley, twin to Maynard Alley a block to the west, is another one of the few named alleys in Seattle. It goes just under ⅕ of a mile from S King Street in the north to S Dearborn Street in the south, between 7th Avenue S and 8th Avenue S.

Similar to the one in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was named after the city and province of Canton in China, today known as Guangzhou in Guangdong province, from where the majority of Chinese immigrants to Seattle came.

As with Maynard Alley, even though Canton Alley had been called that for years, and was signed as such, its name was not officially made Canton Alley S until 2019, so that addresses from which 911 calls were coming could be more easily located and emergency vehicle response times could be reduced.

(The earliest reference I can find to Canton Alley in The Seattle Star, The Seattle Times, or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is an article in the February 12, 1911, issue of the Times.)

Portion of Summary and Fiscal Note to Seattle Ordinance 125753 Regarding Canton Alley S
Portion of summary and fiscal note to ordinance 125753 regarding Canton Alley S

One major difference between Canton and Maynard Alleys is the house numbers, as mentioned in the excerpt from the summary and fiscal note to the ordinance above. House numbers on Maynard Alley S follow the standard pattern; the 500 block of Maynard Alley is the one south of S King Street, due west of the 500 block of 7th Avenue S, that of 8th Avenue S, etc. But house numbers on Canton Alley S follow the “European system” (also used in American cities like New York), so very low addresses such as 9 Canton Alley S exist — quite rare in Seattle — and were not changed by the ordinance.

Maynard Alley S

Maynard Alley, one of the few named alleys in Seattle, goes just under ¼ mile from S Jackson Street in the north to S Dearborn Street in the south between Maynard Avenue S and 7th Avenue S. Like Maynard Avenue, it was named for David Swinson “Doc” Maynard, who is generally credited with naming the town of Seattle, after his friend siʔaɫ, or Chief Seattle, and was its “first physician, merchant, Indian agent, and justice of the peace.”

Maynard Alley sign, Seattle, 2010
Maynard Alley sign in front of Washington State Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Center on S King Street, 2010. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Even though it had been named that for years, and was signed as such, its name was not officially made Maynard Alley S until 2019, so that addresses from which 911 calls were coming could be more easily located and emergency vehicle response times could be reduced. (The same thing was done for Canton Alley S, a block to the east, as part of the same ordinance.)

(The earliest reference I can find to Maynard Alley in The Seattle Star, The Seattle Times, or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is an article in the March 30, 1910, issue of the P-I.)

Portion of Summary and Fiscal Note to Seattle Ordinance 125753 Regarding Maynard Alley S, from http://clerk.seattle.gov/search/ordinances/125753
Portion of summary and fiscal note to ordinance 125753 regarding Maynard Alley S