“Dzidzilalich” to be honorary name for Elliott Way, Alaskan Way

Contrary to what I wrote in “Elliott Way” just a placeholder name, it sounds like the new road connecting Western Avenue at Bell Street to Alaskan Way at Pike Street will in fact carry the official name of Elliott Way. To quote from a post on Mayor Bruce Harrell’s blog,

Mayor Bruce Harrell, City Council President Debora Juarez, and key waterfront leaders are proposing to establish an honorary name for Alaskan Way and Elliott Way, between S Dearborn St and Bell St. “Dzidzilalich” (pronounced: dzee-dzuh-lah-leech) means “Little Crossing Over Place” in the Coast Salish language Lushootseed. This honorary name would recognize the deep tribal history and culture on Seattle’s waterfront. The Dzidzilalich street name designation would be honorary; the legal name of “Alaskan Way” would not change nor would the official addresses on the street.

As I wrote in Rob Mattson Way, honorary renamings differ from official (re)namings in three important ways:

  • They are done via resolution rather than ordinance
  • They do not replace the original street name in official records and addresses
  • They appear on brown, rather than green, signs

The Waterfront Seattle page on Dzidzilalich notes that “The Suquamish and Muckleshoot Tribal Councils provided guidance to the city of Seattle’s Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, and the Seattle Department of Transportation in the process of selecting Dzidzilalich as the honorary name for this roadway.”

Mockup of a brown street sign reading Dzidzilalich

I am glad to hear that this new street will carry a Lushootseed name. To the best of my knowledge only Duwamish Avenue S and Shilshole Avenue NW do so currently. To have a major downtown street with a name like this is long overdue.

I should also note that, if this is what the tribes want, I support the proposal — and though I have some issues with it, it is not my place to tell tribal members they deserve more. I have no idea what the negotiations looked like. That said, I do have some issues with the proposal.

First, “Elliott Way” remains an incredibly uncreative name for the new roadway. I said it before and I’ll say it again: “This is a [missed] opportunity to commemorate someone, or something, new, rather than Jared, George, Samuel, or Jesse Elliott (apparently no one is sure just which Elliott the bay is named after)!” There is nothing wrong with dead white men, but take a look at the tag cloud at the bottom of this post for proof that they are far overrepresented when it comes to Seattle street names.

Second, honorary names simply don’t carry the same heft as official ones. No one calls 19th Avenue between E Madison Street and E Union Street “Rev. Dr. S. McKinney Ave,” or 15th Avenue S between S Nevada Street and S Columbian Way “Alan Sugiyama Way.” But they do call Mary Gates Memorial Drive NE, E Barbara Bailey Way, Edgar Martinez Drive S, S Roberto Maestas Festival Street, etc., by those names… because they have no other choice.

I do like the idea of giving Alaskan Way an honorary name. It is far too long and important a street to officially rename without causing a lot of issues. The last time we did something like that was when Empire Way became Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the 1980s. I’m glad that happened, but think the process would be even more drawn out and controversial today. (However, if the street that runs along our waterfront carried the name of, say, a Confederate general, I’d be among the first to call for those signs to come down.) But why just this portion of Alaskan Way? To the best of my knowledge we’ve never given an existing street an honorary name for its entire length. Why not start here, from E Marginal Way S all the way to W Garfield Street?

In addition, one reason behind honorary namings is that existing addresses don’t need to be changed. But Elliott Way is new. There are no existing addresses. Why not, then, simply call it Dzidzilalich, and give Alaskan Way another honorary name? Or, why not give Alaskan Way the honorary name Dzidzilalich for its entire length, and give Elliott Way a different name that “elevate[s] Coast Salish tribal history and culture,” as the mayor’s blog puts it?

A few asides: I, personally, would prefer the spelling Dᶻidᶻəlalič, which uses Lushootseed orthography. (If Port Angeles can do it with their Klallam-language street signs, so can we!) And I notice that only the Suquamish and Muckleshoot tribes are mentioned as having been consulted. I wonder if representatives of the Duwamish Tribe were given a chance to weigh in as well. (My guess is they weren’t, as they are not federally recognized, while the Suquamish and Muckleshoot are, and oppose the efforts of the Duwamish to gain recongition. There is a long-standing controversy regarding the legitimacy of the Duwamish as the present-day representatives of Chief Seattle’s people. See The Politics of Paying Real Rent Duwamish in Seattle Met for an interesting take on the issue.)

Regardless of what happens, though, I am glad to see “Dzidzilalic” return to Seattle’s waterfront.

Where springs of clear water bubbled from the earth and the beach was sandy and free from rocks, there the Indians camped. Such a choice spot was Tzee-tzee-lal-litch, which Arthur Denny called Spring Street.

Sophie Frye Bass, “Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle

W Laurelhurst Drive NE

W Laurelhurst Drive NE and E Laurelhurst Drive NE were originally Olympic View Drive and Cascade View Drive, respectively, in the 1906 plat of Laurelhurst, an Addition to the City of Seattle. I am unable to tell exactly when the change was made: I first find “Laurelhurst Drive” being referred to in The Seattle Times in 1920, though a Kroll map from the same year shows the streets as 45th Avenue NE and 47th Avenue NE, respectively.

Laurelhurst itself was annexed to Seattle in 1910 (which makes me wonder why the plat was labelled as an addition to the city four years earlier). “Laurel” must refer to the tree, and “hurst” is an archaic word meaning “wooded hill.” However, as the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange thread that gives that definition notes, “in street names, [hurst is] likely to be a modern invention,” being part of “a name made up from old roots to imbue a sense of history and rootedness” (or, in cases like these, Britishness and stateliness). (I had thought that “Laurel” might refer to a girl or woman [cf. Loyal Avenue NW], but neither of the developers — Joseph Rogers McLaughlin [1851–1923] and Robert F. Booth [1875–1918] — appear to have had a relative by that name.)

(As an aside, the Wikipedia article on the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, citing Eugene E. Snyder’s 1979 Portland Names and Neighborhoods, says that “the name Laurelhurst was borrowed from a residential development in Seattle that Laurelhurst Company general manager Paul Murphy had recently completed. The name combined a reference to the laurel shrubbery near the Seattle development with the Old English hurst, denoting a wooded hill.” However, I have my doubts that there were actually enough laurels nearby to warrant the naming [in contrast to Magnolia, which was {mis}named for the plentiful madronas that lined the bluff].)

W Laurelhurst Drive NE begins at 43rd Avenue NE just south of NE 38th Street and goes ½ a mile southeast to just east of Webster Point Road NE, where it becomes E Laurelhurst Dr NE. From there, it goes nearly ⅖ of a mile northeast to a dead end just past 47th Avenue NE.

Aerial view of Laurelhurst from the south, 1938
Aerial view of Laurelhurst from the south, 1938. Webster Point dominates the view; W Laurelhurst Drive NE becomes E Laurelhurst Drive NE in front of the house that prominently appears at the southern end of the point. Photograph from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History and Industry, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Map of Laurelhurst, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 21, 1906
Part of an advertisement for the new Laurelhurst subdivision, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 21, 1906. Laurelhurst is called “the most beautiful and high-class residence district in Seattle… that peninsula separating Lake Washington from Union Bay.” Prospective buyers were directed to take the Madison Street Cable Railway to its terminus at Madison Park, from which they could take a 5-minute ride on a steamer to Laurelhurst.

S Atlantic Street

As part of the Great Renaming of 1895, Texas Street, Town Street, Fontenelle Street, Flemming Street, Davidson Street, and Canal Street became Atlantic Street, from Elliott Bay to Lake Washington. The name was extended into West Seattle in 1907, when Grant Street and Louisiana Street were combined.

Street sign at 1st Avenue S (incorrectly signed as 1st Avenue), where S Atlantic Street becomes Edgar Martinez Drive S, May 2006
Street sign at 1st Avenue S (incorrectly signed as 1st Avenue), where S Atlantic Street becomes Edgar Martinez Drive S, May 2006. Photograph by Flickr user Dave O, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Today, SW Atlantic Street begins in West Seattle at Sunset Avenue SW and goes ¼ of a mile east to Palm Avenue SW. It next appears, as S Atlantic Street, just east of U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle at Alaskan Way S, and goes around 800 feet east to 1st Avenue S, where it becomes Edgar Martinez Drive S (renamed in honor of the ball player in 2004). Apart from a stub east of Airport Way S that is soon blocked by Interstate 5, the street’s next appearance is on Beacon Hill, where it goes ⅓ of a mile from just west of 11th Avenue S to 17th Avenue S, the portion between 15th Avenue S and 16th Avenue S being a stairway.

After being interrupted for a number of blocks by Interstate 90, S Atlantic Street reappears at 21st Avenue S and goes a block to just east of 22nd Avenue S. (Here, it gives its name to the surrounding Atlantic neighborhood.) It resumes — again having been interrupted by Interstate 90’s Mount Baker Tunnel — at Bradner Place S and goes ⅓ of a mile east to Lake Washington Boulevard S, the portions between 30th Avenue S and 31st Avenue South as well as between 32nd Avenue S and 33rd Avenue S being stairways. The right-of-way begins again at 35th Avenue S and goes around ⅛ of a mile east to Lake Washington, but is either incorporated into adjacent homeowners’ yards or serves as their driveways for most of this distance. Between Lakeside Avenue S and the water, it is one of the city’s shoreline street ends.

Looking south toward the intersection of Colorado Avenue S and S Atlantic Street, December 2018. The Bemis Building, at 55 S Atlantic Street, housed the local operations of the Bemis Brothers Bag Company from 1905 to 1993.
Looking south toward the intersection of Colorado Avenue S and S Atlantic Street, December 2018. The Bemis Building, at 55 S Atlantic Street, housed the local operations of the Bemis Brothers Bag Company from 1905 to 1993. Renovation began in 1995 and today it houses live/work spaces for artists. Photograph by Flickr user Washington State Department of Transportation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Rob Ketcherside’s Seattle street renaming tables

Before I wrote S Nevada Street, I assumed it was going to be one of the streets created in the 1895 Seattle Tide Lands plat that were named after states, such as Utah Avenue S, Colorado Avenue S, S Oregon Street, S Idaho Street, and SW Florida Street. As it turns out, no — it was originally Rainier Street, and it was renamed in the wake of the 1905 annexation of the town of South Seattle. I found this out by searching the archives of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; unlike a number of other renaming ordinances, most notably the “Great Renaming” ordinance of 1895, the full text of Ordinance 13271 does not appear in the city database.

It also did not (yet!) appear in my friend Rob Ketcherside’s searchable databases of Seattle street name changes. My article prompted him to do so, however, and last week he published Renaming Seattle in 1906, which “covers neighborhoods across the city, including Ravenna, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Montlake, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Portage Bay, Madison Valley, Denny-Blaine, Madrona, Leschi, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, and Sodo.” His other such posts include:

They are an indispensable resource for anyone working on Seattle history.

Article on South Seattle street name changes in January 14, 1906, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Article on South Seattle street name changes in January 14, 1906, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Note the changing of Decatur Street, Sterrett Street (sic), and Gansvoort Street to 11th Avenue S, 12th Avenue S, and 13th Avenue S, respectively. Sterret and Gansvoort Streets were mentioned by Sophie Frye Bass (as Sterrett and Gansevoort) in the “Forgotten Streets” chapter in her Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle: “Today not even obscure streets bear their names.” The Decatur name was later applied to Decatur Place S, which Bass described in 1937 as “a straggling ungraded hillside street,” hardly a fitting tribute to “the ship that saved Seattle.” She is referring to the 1856 Battle of Seattle, in which a group of Native Americans attacked the small settlement in what is today Pioneer Square. Decatur honored the USS Decatur, which took part in the fighting; Sterret, the ship’s captain, Isaac L. Sterret (who may have later joined the Confederate Navy); and Gansvoort, its commander that day, Guert Gansevoort.

Mountain Drive W

This Magnolia street, created in 1915 as part of the plat of Carleton Park, was originally known as Mt. Olympus Drive. Because not all Seattle ordinances have been scanned, I am unable to tell when the change was made (and am unsure why it was made, as the old name doesn’t appear to conflict with anything).

The Seattle Times wrote of Carleton Park that the “entire district commands an unobstructible view of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains” ― being on the west side of the hill, the view here is of the Olympics, of which Mt. Olympus is the most prominent.

Mountain Drive W begins at Westmont Way W and Altavista Place W and goes ⅕ of a mile to Westmont Way W just east of W Viewmont Way W.

S Oregon Street

This street received its name in 1907, uniting streets formerly known as Nebraska Street, 8th Street, Bedford Street, Conover Street, and G Street. (There had been an Oregon Street in the 1895 Seattle Tide Lands plat in which Nebraska Street was created, but it became Spokane Street and Chelan Avenue in the same 1907 change.)

S Oregon Street begins in West Seattle as SW Oregon Street at the Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive SW and goes two blocks east to Me-Kwa-Mooks Park at 56th Avenue SW. It briefly resumes at 52nd Avenue SW and goes two blocks east to 51st Avenue SW, then begins again in earnest at 50th Avenue SW, going nearly a mile east to the West Seattle Stadium at 35th Avenue SW, part of the stretch between there and Fauntleroy Way SW being footpath and stairway. East of the West Seattle Golf Course, it goes around 175 feet to 26th Avenue SW and the Delridge Playfield, and on the other side of the playfield serves as a short connector between Delridge Way SW and 23rd Avenue SW.

S Oregon Street resumes east of the Duwamish Waterway at a shoreline street end and goes ¼ mile east to E Marginal Way S. It then serves as short connectors between Diagonal Avenue S and Denver Avenue S and between 7th Avenue S and Airport Way S.

East of Interstate 5, on Beacon Hill, S Oregon Street begins again at 10th Avenue S and goes ⅓ of a mile east to 15th Avenue S and S Columbian Way. It picks up again in the Rainier Valley at S Columbian Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S and goes ⅔ of a mile east to Genesee Park at 42nd Avenue S. East of the park, it resumes at 47th Avenue S and goes ¼ mile east to its end at 52nd Avenue S above the Lakewood Marina on Lake Washington.

West Seattle Summer Fest at SW Oregon Street, July 2013
Looking south on California Avenue SW toward SW Oregon Street during West Seattle Summer Fest, July 2013. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

S Nevada Street

This street — originally Rainier Street in the Industrial District — received its current name in 1906, a few months after the town of South Seattle was annexed by Seattle in October 1905.

Article on South Seattle street name changes in January 14, 1906, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Article listing South Seattle street name changes in January 14, 1906, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

SW Nevada Street begins in West Seattle at 30th Avenue SW and goes ¼ mile east to 26th Avenue SW. It next appears east of the Duwamish Waterway in the Industrial District, as a ¼-mile-long service road off E Marginal Way S and a 300-foot-long dead-end road off 6th Avenue S. East of Interstate 5 on Beacon Hill, it goes ¼ mile east from 11th Avenue S to 16th Avenue S at Jefferson Park. It resumes for the last time in Rainier Valley at 28th Avenue S and S Adams Street and goes ¼ mile east to 31st Avenue S.

Fuhrman Avenue E

This street, created in 1890 as part of the plat of the Denny-Fuhrman Addition to the City of Seattle, was originally named Randall Street. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the reason for or date of the name change, but it first appears in The Seattle Times and in the city’s ordinances in 1906. The street and addition were named for Henry Fuhrman (1843–1907), who developed the area with David Thomas Denny (1832–1903) (Denny Way).

Fuhrman, who had come to Seattle in 1890, was a German Jew. According to his Seattle Times obituary, he “came to this country from Germany when a boy.… He was engaged as a mercantile solicitor in the early days, but later started a small drygoods business in Fremont, Nebraska, where he has since become famous as the pioneer wholesale drygoods merchant west of Omaha.… It is estimated that his fortune amounts to at least a million dollars.”

Fuhrman and Charles Cowen (né Cohen) (1869–1926) (Cowen Place NE) are the only Jews I am aware of who have Seattle streets named after them.

Henry Fuhrman, from his Seattle Times obituary, August 23, 1907
Henry Fuhrman, from his Seattle Times obituary, August 23, 1907

Fuhrman Avenue E begins at the north end of Fairview Avenue E, under the Ship Canal Bridge, and goes nearly ½ a mile southeast to E Shelby Street, where it becomes Boyer Avenue E. (A short segment begins about 150 feet to the east of Boyer, heads about 225 feet to the south, and mainly functions as a driveway for a number of houseboats; and another short segment begins at the north end of 15th Avenue E at the E Calhoun Street pathway, heads about 275 feet to the northeast, and serves as a driveway for an apartment complex.)

Sign at corner of Fuhrman Avenue E, Eastlake Avenue E, and Portage Bay Place E, August 24, 2009
Sign at corner of Fuhrman Avenue E, Eastlake Avenue E, and Portage Bay Place E, August 24, 2009. (Portage By Pl is an error; it should read Portage Bay Pl E, as it’s [[Portage Bay] [Place]], not [[Portage] [Bay Place]]. The original Red Robin restaurant was founded at this intersection in 1940. It has since been demolished, but I’ve seen imagery of this sign — including the error — on the walls of other Red Robin locations.) Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Cowen Place NE

This street was created as part of the 1906 plat of Cowen’s University Park, filed by the Sylvester-Cowen Investment Company, of which Charles Cowen (1869–1926) was president. Originally Ravenna Place, it received its current name in 1918, according to an article in the January 29 issue of The Seattle Times. (This article also reported that the names of the individual streets that made up Queen Anne Boulevard would be restored and that Oriental Avenue [counterpart of the still-existing Occidental Avenue S] would become Third Avenue S). Whether it honors Cowen or the park named after him, which he donated to the city in 1906, is unclear.

Article in September 22, 1917, issue of The Seattle Times on Charles Cowen and his bounty on German leaders during World War I
Article in September 22, 1917, issue of The Seattle Times on Charles Cowen and his bounty on German leaders during World War I

Cowen was born in England, moved with his family to South Africa, and came to the United States in 1890, arriving in Seattle in 1900. Dotty DeCoster writes for HistoryLink.org:

Cowen was, by many accounts, a lively and active participant in developing the University District. According to architectural historian Shirley L. Courtois, he was British and had grown up in South Africa, where his family members were diamond miners and merchants. In 1890 he was sent to New York to purchase equipment for the mines. He never returned to South Africa. He apparently broke with his family, changed his name from Cohen to Cowen, and settled first in New York State, then in Florida, and finally in Seattle. Cowen reportedly retained a distinctively English style throughout his life.

The facts that his surname was originally Cohen and that his family was involved in diamond mining in South Africa led me to think he must have been Jewish, but I could find no definitive mention of his ethnicity online. However, in the March 19, 1926, issue of The Seattle Times, I found an article on the probate of his will, which mentioned that $2,000 of his $50,000 estate would go to the Hebrew Benevolent Society (today known as Jewish Family Service). That makes Cowen and Henry Fuhrman (1844–1907) (Fuhrman Avenue E) the only Jews I am aware of who have Seattle streets named after them.

Cowen Place NE begins at NE Ravenna Boulevard and University Way NE and goes just over 325 feet northeast to 15th Avenue NE, at the south end of the Cowen Park Bridge.

Detail of Charles Cowen memorial at entrance to Cowen Park
Detail of Charles Cowen memorial at entrance to Cowen Park, June 1, 2009. “In memory of Charles Cowen who in 1906 gave to the city of Seattle the twelve acres comprising this park. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.
Signs at corner of NE Ravenna Boulevard, University Way NE, and Cowen Place NE, August 24, 2009
Signs at corner of NE Ravenna Boulevard, University Way NE, and Cowen Place NE, August 24, 2009. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Fauntlee Crest SW

This street was created in 1955 as 43rd Avenue SW in the plat of Fauntlee Hills Division № 5. It received its current name in 1959. “Faunt” is an obvious reference to the greater Fauntleroy neighborhood, and Fauntlee Hills was developed on the western slope of the hill that rose up from Fauntleroy Cove, but I’m not sure where “lee” comes from. (I was thinking, perhaps, from “leeward,” but prevailing winds in Seattle are from the southwest, meaning this is the windward, not leeward, side of the hill. Perhaps Arthur C. Webb, the developer, simply thought it sounded euphonious.)

Like its neighbor Vashon View SW (which was originally named Fauntlee Place SW!), this appears to be the only crest in the city. (The USPS abbreviates these as CRST, while its Seattle street sign abbreviation is Cr.)

Fauntlee Crest SW begins at SW Concord Street and California Avenue SW and goes ¼ mile north to a dead end.

Fauntlee Hills Ad in the November 1, 1953, Seattle Times
Advertisement for Fauntlee Hills in the November 1, 1953, issue of The Seattle Times

NW Carkeek Park Road

This street was named for Carkeek Park, which encompasses 216 acres in the Broadview neighborhood, including Pipers Creek and nearly ½ a mile of Puget Sound waterfront (though the usable beach is much shorter, as the main line of the BNSF Railway cuts off public access to the rest). It was one of the “46 new street names to simplify street addresses” The Seattle Times reported on in its issue November 6, 1960, and was made up of “Sixth Avenue Northwest from West 110th to West 111th Streets, West 111th Street from Sixth to Seventh Avenues Northwest, Seventh Avenue NW from West 111th to West 114th Streets, and West 114th Street from Seventh Avenue NW to West 116th Street.” (Part of this route was once Puget Drive, part of the 1911 View-Lands Addition.)

The park itself opened in 1929 and was named for Morgan James Carkeek (1847–1931) and his wife, Emily Gaskill Carkeek (1852–1926). According to the Museum of History & Industry, “Morgan… was an accomplished stonemason and successful building contractor who built several of Seattle’s early stone buildings, such as the Dexter Horton Bank, and large office buildings, including the Burke and Haller buildings.” In 1918, he and Emily donated land to the city for the first Carkeek Park, located along Lake Washington where Magnuson Park is today, but soon thereafter plans were made to develop Naval Air Station Seattle on the land, and the park was taken over by the Navy in 1926. The Carkeeks donated $25,000 to the city to purchase land elsewhere, and with the addition of $100,000 in public funds the city was able to buy Piper’s Canyon.

Report in The Seattle Times, May 28, 1927, on the Carkeeks' contribution of funds to buy Piper's Canyon
Report in The Seattle Times, May 28, 1927, on the Carkeeks’ contribution of funds to buy Piper’s Canyon. The Seattle Historical Society, which they had a hand in founding, never did build a museum in Carkeek Park, but ended up building the Museum of History & Industry in Montlake’s McCurdy Park instead. MOHAI opened in 1952 and moved to Lake Union Park in 2012 after having to make way for the expansion of Washington State Route 520.

NW Carkeek Park Road begins at NW 110th Street and Puget Drive NW and winds ½ a mile northwest to the entrance to Carkeek Park at NW 114th Street. Within the park, it goes a further ½ mile west, ending at a parking lot, picnic area, and playground. (This portion appears to have once been known as Piper’s Canyon Road or Pipers Road.) From here, there is a bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks to a beach along Puget Sound and the mouth of Pipers Creek.

Aerial view of Carkeek Park, 1969
Aerial view of Carkeek Park, looking southeast, July 9, 1969. The valley and outlet of Pipers Creek are clearly visible, as is the main line of the BNSF Railway that separates the park’s wooded and grassy areas from Puget Sound. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 77628.

Seola Beach Drive SW

According to Seattle parks historian Don Sherwood’s sheet on Seola Park, this street began as a logging railroad. It was then replaced by the Charles Arey county road (“recently surveyed,” according to an article in the August 26, 1893, Seattle Post-Intelligencer), which was renamed Qualheim Road in 1914 by Carl Olsen Qualheim. It received its current name in 1956 when that portion of Arbor Heights was annexed to Seattle. “Seola” itself was the product of a naming contest:

In 1893, a family named Kakeldy built the first home on the beach.… Before long, children in the vicinity school referred to residents of Kakeldy Beach as the “Cackilty Chickens.”… In 1910 the beach residents sponsored a renaming contest which was won by Mel Miller, friend of the school’s teacher of Spanish, Agnes Quigley; his suggestion: “Se-ola = to know the wave.”

Seola Beach Drive SW begins at SW 106th Street between 28th Avenue SW and 31st Avenue SW and goes ⅞ of a mile south, then southwest, to a dead end at the beach, just past SW Seola Lane.

For its entire length, Seola Beach Drive SW forms the southern city limits of Seattle, separating it from Burien and unincorporated King County (White Center). (Unlike the northern city limits, formed by 145th Street, Seattle’s southern city limits are jagged. If they went due east from Seola Beach, Seattle would encompass large portions of Burien, Tukwila, and Renton; whereas if they followed a parallel set at the city limits’ northernmost point, everything south of Kenyon Street [approximately the north end of the South Park Bridge] would be lost to Seattle.)

Sign reading Privately Owned Beaches, No Public Access at Seola Beach
Seola Beach, April 8, 2011. Unfortunately, this is not a case where a street was platted into the water, creating a shoreline street end; the right-of-way explicitly ends at the fence, and this portion of the beach belongs to the property owners to the south. Photograph by Flickr user NabeWise, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

SW Bronson Way

This West Seattle street was created in 1900 as part of the Replat of the West Seattle Land & Improvement Co’s. Third Plat. Originally Beach Way, it was renamed Bronson Way in 1907, when Seattle annexed West Seattle. Given that Ira Hull Bronson (1868–1930) was attorney for and vice president of the WSL&IC, it seems a fair assumption that it was named for him.

Ira Bronson, from his June 17, 1930, obituary in The Seattle Times
Ira Bronson, from his June 17, 1930, obituary in The Seattle Times. He had died the day before.

Bronson, a former president of the American Bar Association, was described in the June 18, 1930, issue of The Seattle Times as a “pioneer Seattle attorney and leader in admiralty circles… [who] was one of the founders of the Inland Navigation Company, which later became the Puget Sound Navigation Company.” (The PSNC’s domestic ferry routes were bought by the state in 1951, forming Washington State Ferries, and most of its Canadian routes became part of the new BC Ferries system in 1961. The firm, now known as the Black Ball Ferry Line, now runs one boat, the MV Coho, between Port Angeles and Victoria. Through a series of mergers, Bronson’s law firm is now Stoel Rives.)

Though the right-of-way begins further inland, SW Bronson Way only physically exists between Harbor Avenue SW and Elliott Bay. About 180 feet long, it is nearly 90 feet wide (quite a length-to-width ratio!) and essentially serves as a public parking lot. It is a shoreline street end, platted into the water, and features an unobstructed view of the city across the bay.

Airport Way S

Airport Way S does not, as one might expect, go from the city to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (known to locals as Sea–Tac), but rather to King County International Airport (better known as Boeing Field). It got its current name in 1931 at the request of the Georgetown-South Seattle Improvement Club, which, according to an article in the April 12 issue of The Seattle Times,

…asked the City Council to merge portions of Seattle Boulevard, Eighth and Ninth Avenues South and Duwamish Avenue, leading from the central business area to Boeing Field, into a new highway, to be known as Airport Way.… [They contended] that strangers are confused in efforts to find the airport by lack of any specifically designated street leading to it.

Seattle Boulevard originated as

The Beach or River Road… [which] skirted the shore of the bay at the foot of the high Beacon Hill bluff, east of what is now Airport Way, and ran south along the Duwamish.… Built in the early fifties, [it] was a hard road to keep in good condition.… In 1886, a road was built on piling over the mud flats a little west of the Beach Road to avoid the slides and floods. This street became known as the Grant Street Bridge.

Sophie Frye Bass, Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle

I elaborate in Diagonal Avenue S that

Essentially, there were a series of roads following the semicircular curve of Elliott Bay from Downtown to the Duwamish River before the tideflats were filled in: first Beach Road (or River Road), then the Grant Street Bridge, which in turn became Seattle Boulevard once the fill was complete. Sometime before 1918… the portion of Seattle Boulevard that ran northeast–southwest (the southern third of the semicircle) was renamed Diagonal Avenue. (In 1931, the rest of Seattle Boulevard was renamed Airport Way.)

View from Beacon Hill looking northwest over Grant Street Bridge and Elliott Bay tideflats, circa 1900
This photograph, taken circa 1900 by Anders Beer Wilse, looks northwest from Beacon Hill over the Grant Street Bridge and the Elliott Bay tideflats. At upper left is West Seattle; at upper right is Magnolia. From this perspective, Downtown Seattle appears just below Magnolia. Bainbridge Island is in the distance across Puget Sound.

Once Sea–Tac fully opened in 1949, Airport Way S no longer led to the region’s primary airport, which was more directly reached via U.S. 99, but no further name changes took place.

Today, Airport Way S begins at Seattle Boulevard S and 6th Avenue S and goes 6⅗ miles southeast, then south, then southeast again, ending at Boeing Access Road. Its lower 2½ miles parallel the eastern boundary of Boeing Field.

Boeing Field aerial
Aerial of Boeing Field, looking northwest, December 2014. In the foreground is Interstate 5; just to the west are the BNSF Railway tracks, then Airport Way S, then Perimeter Road S. Photograph by Wikimedia Commons user Bernstea, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Seattle Boulevard S

In 2010, the portion of Airport Way S between 4th Avenue S and 6th Avenue S was renamed Seattle Boulevard S at the request of the adjacent property owners, restoring a name that disappeared from the map in 1931.

As I explain in Diagonal Avenue S,

There were a series of roads following the semicircular curve of Elliott Bay from Downtown to the Duwamish River before the tideflats were filled in: first Beach Road (or River Road), then the Grant Street Bridge, which in turn became Seattle Boulevard once the fill was complete. Sometime before 1918… the portion of Seattle Boulevard that ran northeast–southwest (the southern third of the semicircle) was renamed Diagonal Avenue. (In 1931, the rest of Seattle Boulevard was renamed Airport Way.)

Seattle Boulevard was obviously named for the city, which itself was named after Si’ahl [siʔaɫ], better known in English as Chief Seattle of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes.

Since 2010, then, there have been two streets in the city that bear its and siʔaɫ’s name: Seattle Boulevard S and SW Seattle Street.

siʔaɫ, or Chief Seattle
The only known photograph of siʔaɫ, or Chief Seattle (1786?–1866), taken by E.M. Sammis in 1864
Sign at corner of S Dearborn Street and Seattle Boulevard S, January 30, 2011
Sign at corner of S Dearborn Street and Seattle Boulevard S, January 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Bernie Whitebear Way

This Discovery Park road was named for Bernie Whitebear (1937–2000), a Native American activist who co-founded the Seattle Indian Health Board, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. Originally part of Illinois Avenue, this portion of the street was renamed for Whitebear in 2011. (Like all streets in Discovery Park except for 45th Avenue W, Bernie Whitebear Way has no directional designation.)

Today, Bernie Whitebear Way begins at Texas Way and Illinois Avenue and goes ½ a mile northwest, then west, to Daybreak Star.

Bernie Whitebear and Senator Henry Jackson
Bernie Whitebear speaking to Senator Henry M. Jackson during the Daybreak Star lease signing ceremony, November 14, 1971. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 193058
Signs at corner of Texas Way and Bernie Whitebear Way, October 30, 2011
Signs at corner of Texas Way and Bernie Whitebear Way, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Texas Way

As I note in Illinois Avenue, most streets in Fort Lawton (1900−2011), which became Discovery Park, were named after states, and this one is no exception. According to this map, the southernmost part of what is now Texas Way was originally Indiana Avenue and Delaware Avenue — the three were consolidated some time before 1967, when this map was made by the Fort Lawton Office of the Post Engineer. (As with Illinois Avenue and every other street in Discovery Park except for 45th Avenue W, Texas Way has never carried a directional designation.)

Street sign at corner of Texas Way and Discovery Park Boulevard, October 30, 2011
Street sign at corner of Texas Way and Discovery Park Boulevard, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Today, Texas Way begins as a pathway south of the Discovery Park playground and goes ¼ of a mile east, then north, to 36th Avenue W just south of its intersection with Discovery Park Boulevard and W Government Way. It resumes as a paved road just to the north at Discovery Park Boulevard and goes just over ⅔ of a mile north, then northwest, to Illinois Avenue at the entrance to the park’s North Parking Lot. Here, it once again becomes a pathway and continues another ¾ of a mile northwest, then south, to rejoin Discovery Park Boulevard just west of the Utah Wetlands.

Signs at corner of Texas Way and Bernie Whitebear Way, October 30, 2011
Signs at corner of Texas Way and Bernie Whitebear Way, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Illinois Avenue

This street, like most others in Fort Lawton (1900−2011), which is now Discovery Park, was named by the United States Army after a state of the Union. I am not sure when the post’s streets were so named or who made the decision, but it can have been no later than 1944, when this map was made by the Army Corps of Engineers. (Here’s a much higher-resolution version from the Seattle Municipal Archives, created in 1973 but based on the older map.) One can see there that what are today Illinois Avenue and Bernie Whitebear Way were originally Vermont Way, Illinois Street, Lawton Road, and Florida Avenue. At some point before 1967 (see this map made by the Fort Lawton Office of the Post Engineer) the four were combined, and in 2011 the middle portion was renamed after Native American activist Bernie Whitebear.

Sign at corner of Illinois Avenue and Texas Way (mislabeled as Kansas Avenue), Discovery Park, October 30, 2011
Sign at corner of Illinois Avenue and Texas Way (mislabeled as Kansas Avenue), Discovery Park, October 30, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Today, the eastern section of Illinois Avenue begins at Discovery Park Boulevard and goes ¼ of a mile north to Texas Way, where it turns into Bernie Whitebear Way. (Except for 45th Avenue W, no street in Discovery Park carries directional designations, nor did they when it was still a fort.) The western section, which is closed to traffic, begins at Texas Way and Discovery Park Boulevard and goes ¼ mile north to connect with footpaths that themselves connect to the North Beach Trail.

Ferry Avenue SW

This street, created in 1888 as part of the First Plat of West Seattle by the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company, was originally named Grand Avenue. It was renamed, along with many other West Seattle streets, in 1907, when West Seattle was annexed by Seattle. The name was a reference to the WSL&IC ferry terminal at what is today Harbor Avenue SW at California Way SW. The West Seattle Water Taxi has been operating from the same location since 1997.

Today, Ferry Avenue SW begins at California Way SW and goes about ³⁄₇ of a mile southwest to just past California Avenue SW, at California Place park (built on the site of a former streetcar terminal; before that, a cable car ran up the Ferry Avenue right-of-way from Elliott Bay to this location). It resumes on the other side of the park at SW Hill Street and goes a further 600 feet southwest to SW Walker Street.

Lenny Wilkens Way

I’m not sure how I missed the news, but in December 2021 the block of Thomas Street between 1st Avenue N and 2nd Avenue N, just south of Climate Pledge Arena, was officially renamed Lenny Wilkens Way, after the Seattle basketball legend.

Leonard Randolph Wilkens (born 1937), who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, played basketball for the Seattle SuperSonics from 1968–1972, also serving as head coach from 1969–1972. He returned to coach the Sonics in 1977 and stayed until 1986, when he went to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led the Sonics to two consecutive NBA championship games, in 1978 and 1979, the latter of which the Sonics won, giving Seattle its first national title since the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917, and its last until 2004, when the Storm won the WNBA Championship. Wilkens finished his career as head coach of the New York Knicks in 2005. Through the Lenny Wilkens Foundation, which recently wound up operations, he also raised millions of dollars for Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.

As far as I know, and please correct me if I’m wrong, this makes Lenny Wilkens only the second Black person to have a street named after him in Seattle, the first being Martin Luther King Jr.