Edgar Martinez Drive S

This street runs ¼ mile from 1st Avenue S in the west to 4th Avenue S in the east. West of 1st, it’s S Atlantic Street — its original name — and east of 4th, it’s the beginning of Interstate 90. It is part of State Route 519, a short highway that connects I-90 to Washington State Ferries’ Colman Dock.

Edgar Martínez was a member of the Seattle Mariners baseball team from 1987 to 2004. This stretch of S Atlantic Street was renamed in his honor the year he retired.

Edgar Martínez at bat, September 15, 2004, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E_Martinez.jpg
Edgar Martínez at bat, September 15, 2004. Photographs by Galaksiafervojo, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Now — why is it Edgar Martinez Drive S instead of S Edgar Martinez Drive, since east–west streets in Seattle have their directional designators at the beginning? I asked Paul Jackson this in 2005. Jackson, who was then the Seattle Department of Transportation’s manager of traffic, signs, and markings, responded:

I appreciate your desire to see our City’s sign system remain consistent.… But ultimately, there is nothing requiring such a naming convention in the Seattle Municipal Code.… In this case, those proposing the street name change wanted to see Edgar Martínez’s name out front. Because this is only a three-block stretch of street (from 1st Avenue S to 4th Avenue S), and does not have any addresses along it, the decision was made to veer slightly from the typical naming convention. The term “drive” was agreed upon to evoke Mr. Martínez’s batting skills at the plate.

Fairview Avenue N

Fairview Avenue is one of a handful in the city that changes directional designations twice along a continuous stretch. The street begins in the south at Virginia Street as Fairview Avenue, but becomes Fairview Avenue N a block and a half to the north as it crosses Denny Way, and a mile north and east of that becomes Fairview Avenue E at E Galer Street and Eastlake Avenue E. It continues to E Roanoke Street, two miles from its origin, where it is interrupted by the Mallard Cove houseboat community. Picking up a block to the north, it then runs half a mile from E Hamlin Street to Fuhrman Avenue E and Eastlake Avenue E, just south of the University Bridge.

Originally Lake Street in Rezin and Margaret Pontius’s 1875 plat of the Fairview Homestead Association for the Benefit of Mechanics and Laborers, it received its current name during the Great Renaming of 1895. (Before 1875, it had been known as Prohibition Street.)

The Fairview Homestead Association, according to Paul Dorpat, was intended to “help working families stop paying rents and start investing in their own homes. Innovative installment payments made the lots affordable and many of the homes were built by those who lived in them.”

I assume Fairview took its name from the view of Lake Union and what is now Wallingford that is still barely visible today from what is now the Cascade neighborhood.

1931 view looking north toward Lake Union along Fairview Avenue N, Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 5265
Looking north toward Lake Union and Wallingford from Fairview Avenue N and John Street, 1931. The Seattle Times Building is at the left. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 5265

NE Boat Street

This street runs just shy of 2,000 feet from NE Pacific Street in the west, just east of the University Bridge, to NE Columbia Road in the east, on the University of Washington South Campus.

Originally Lake Avenue in the 1890 Brooklyn Addition to Seattle, as it ran along the north shore of Lake Union, it became Northlake Avenue at some point between then and 1901, based on my search of Seattle Times, Seattle Star, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer archives. It starts being referred to as Northlake Way in 1935, though it seems this wasn’t formalized until 1956.

Portion of Map of Brooklyn Addition to Seattle, 1890, showing Lake Avenue (now NE Boat Street) and Railroad Avenue (now NE Pacific Street)

In 1960, Jerry Bryant of Bryant’s Marina proposed that all of Northlake Way — beginning far to the west, at the Fremont Bridge — receive the new name of Boat Street, but the 1962 ordinance establishing Boat Street only changes the name of the few blocks between the University Bridge and the UW campus. The Seattle P-I reports on December 22, 1960, that the Street Naming Committee of the Board of Public works rejected the proposal “because the present name is more descriptive,” but Bryant went ahead and filed his proposal with the City Council anyway in 1961.

According to The Seattle Times on May 24, 1962, the Board of Public Works once again asked the City Council to reject the proposal, which was “backed by more than 50 marine firms or individuals… [and] the University Commercial Club,” but on June 20, the Times reported that the City Council Streets and Sewers Committee approved the change. This met with much opposition. On July 2, the Times published a letter from Vince Lieb, 668 NE Northlake Way, that read, in part, that “numerous business firms… are more than a little chagrined at the City Council’s recent move… to please a minority of merchants who hawk their wares along the way,” and wondered if this might set a precedent:

We can think of such dandies as “Chop Suey Street,” “Gas and Oil Street,” “Beer Street,” and “Fish Street.” How about “Sand and Gravel Street” for a paved thoroughfare?

That same day, according to the P-I, the City Council postponed the implementation of the name change, sending it back to committee, and on July 10, according to the Times, the committee said it would give proponents and opponents two weeks to gather signatures, as the original petition had somehow been lost. Finally, on the 24th, they came up with a compromise: The name would be changed between the University Bridge and 15th Avenue NE only. This is where Bryant’s Marina was located, as well as the Jensen Motor Boat Company, which lasted until 2019 and was the last shipyard left on NE Boat Street.

Headline regarding Boat Street naming controversy, Seattle Times, July 25, 1962
From The Seattle Times, July 25, 1962

Today, Fritz Hedges Waterway Park — built on the former site of the marina — occupies most of the Boat Street waterfront.

Cheasty Boulevard S

This Olmsted boulevard was designed in 1910 as Jefferson Boulevard, the entrance to Jefferson Park. It runs about 1.2 miles from Beacon Avenue S and S Alaska Street in the southwest to S Winthrop Street in the northeast, which also forms part of the park boulevard. After crossing Martin Luther King Jr. Way S and Rainier Avenue S, it continues on as S Mount Baker Boulevard, ending at Mount Baker Park.

In 1914, it was renamed Cheasty Boulevard after E.C. (Edward) Cheasty, who died that year. He had been police commissioner, commissioner of the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, and a member of the park board from 1907 to 1910 and 1912 to his death, according to the Don Sherwood Park History Files. He also ran Cheasty’s Store, a downtown haberdashery, from 1888 until his death. 

E.C. Cheasty, photograph by Edward S. Curtis, from the University of Washington Libraries’ Portrait Collection

Speaking of his death, it sadly appears that it was due to suicide. He fell from the 10th floor of the Washington Hotel — the same hotel in which fellow businessman Frank B. Hubbell killed himself in 1905.

Seattle Star article on death of E.C. Cheasty
Front-page article on Cheasty’s death, The Seattle Star, June 13, 1914

S Dose Terrace

This street runs just about 1,000 feet from 31st Avenue S in the west to Colman Park in the east. West of 31st Avenue, it’s S Walker Street, and the right-of-way extends through the park to Lake Washington Boulevard S as the Dose Terrace steps.

The 1905 plat of C.P. Dose’s Lake Washington Addition to the City of Seattle has it as Walker Street from 30th Avenue S to the park, but its name was changed to Dose Terrace in 1911 after C.P. Dose, a real estate developer originally from Beckerwitz, Germany.

Office of C.P. Dose’s Lake Washington Addition, 1903, from University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division

E Jansen Court

When I saw that E Jansen Court fell within Jansen’s Addition to the City of Seattle, filed in 1889 by Mary Jansen, I thought “Ah, another case of a landowner naming a street after themselves,” though I did note it was rare to see a single woman’s, and no one else’s, name on such a plat. But once I got a good look at the plat map I realized that, as is often the case, things weren’t quite that simple.

There’s no Jansen Court on this map — instead, John Street keeps its name as it crosses Mulford Street (now 20th Avenue E). So what happened?

In 1954, E John Street — the arterial east of 21st Avenue E — and E Thomas Street — the arterial west of 20th — were connected directly to each other by lopping off a small part of Miller Playfield (creating Miller Triangle in the process). As part of this, a one-way extension of John was built east of 20th, connecting with the arterial just before 21st. But this meant what is now Jansen Court needed a new name (remember, it originally remained John Street after crossing 20th). The powers that be decided to simply name it after Mary Jansen (or her subdivision). So even though she hadn’t named it after herself, 65 years after she filed her plat Jansen finally had her name on a street sign.

Roosevelt Way NE

This street runs nearly 6 miles from the north end of the University Bridge in the south (at Eastlake Avenue NE and NE Campus Parkway) to Aurora Avenue N in the north, just shy of Seattle city limits at N 145th Street. It runs north–south for most of its length, but starting at NE 125th Street, its last 1½ miles cut a northwest–southeast diagonal across the street grid, making it Roosevelt Way N once it crosses 1st Avenue NE between N 133rd and N 135th Streets.

Originally 10th Avenue NE south of NE 125th Street, Roosevelt received its current name in 1933. According to local historian Feliks Banel, this was first proposed in 1927 by businesses in the Roosevelt district, itself having taken that name earlier in the decade in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, who died in 1919. Nothing came of it for six years, but in 1933 they tried again and asked that 10th Avenue be renamed after both Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had been elected president the previous November. As Banel notes in his piece, The Seattle Times had this to say:

This change, we assume, must be pleasing to local Democrats of all sorts and shades. At the same time, due to the incidence of somewhat tenuous family ties, it cannot be at all displeasing to Republicans. The name of Roosevelt has high standing in both political parties, as indeed it has throughout the world. Even now it is quite certain that those who may traverse our Roosevelt Way in years to come will neither know nor particularly care whether it was named for Teddy or for Frank.

As for its diagonal stretch, it appears on old King County maps as M. Roy Sayles Road (County Road 2240), Golf Way, and State Highway 1J (predecessor of today’s SR 513). It ceased to be a state highway in 1991. As for when it, too, became Roosevelt Way, it’s difficult to tell as King County doesn’t have as good a system for looking up ordinances online as Seattle’s. It appears as Roosevelt Way on a 1966 map in local historian Rob Ketcherside’s maps album on Flickr, but as Golf Way in another one from 1947. As the area in question wasn’t annexed into Seattle until 1953, the name must have been changed by the county sometime between 1947 and 1953 in anticipation. (The 1933 Seattle ordinance is the only one on file relating to Roosevelt Way’s name, so this must have been a county change.)

As for M. Roy SaylesThe International Confectioner’s January 1915 issue reports that he, along with Annie B. Sayles, C.M. Sayles, and W.H. Rogers, founded the Rogers Candy Co. in Seattle in 1915; and Golf Way almost certainly comes from the road’s proximity to the public course at Jackson Park, which opened in 1928.

University Way NE

This street runs 1¼ mile from NE Pacific Street in the south to NE Ravenna Boulevard and Cowen Park in the north. Until 2001, it was a block longer, starting farther south at NE Boat Street, but that portion was vacated as part of the development of the University of Washington campus.

Originally Columbus Avenue and then 14th Avenue NE, it was renamed University Way in 1920 after the University of Washington, which had moved to the neighborhood from its original home downtown in 1895. As local historian Paul Dorpat explains in this HistoryLink essay,

[In 1919] the University Commercial Club… ran [a contest] to rename 14th Avenue…. Club member Arthur Quigley’s “University Way” won the street name contest easily. To deflect any charges that the contest was fixed, Quigley donated the prize money to charity.

Even though it’s been a “way” for 101 years now, to locals University Way has always been, and always will be, “The Ave.” And that in itself will always cause some confusion, as this street sign demonstrates.

Street sign incorrectly reading University Ave NE instead of University Way NE
Even the city gets street names wrong sometimes.

Occidental Avenue S

Occidental Avenue S, which begins at Yesler Way in Pioneer Square, is one of those Seattle streets whose names extend into the suburbs. It makes its southernmost appearance at S 197th Street in Des Moines.

It received its name in 1895 as part of the Great Renaming — it had originally been S Second Street. It once had a partner, Oriental Avenue, to the east (originally S Fourth Street), which is today 3rd Avenue S. “Oriental,” of course, means “Eastern,” as “Occidental” means “Western.” (I haven’t been able to determine just when Oriental Avenue became 3rd, but it was last mentioned in The Seattle Times on October 17, 1920.)

And why this particular pairing? The Occidental Hotel, which once overlooked the beginning of Occidental Avenue, is almost certainly the reason, but it’s not spelled out in the ordinance.

W Armory Way

This Interbay street, established in 1910 as Lawton Way, runs ¼ mile northwest from 15th Avenue W to the BNSF Railway’s Balmer Yard. Its right-of-way runs about 800 feet beyond that, across the railroad tracks, to 20th Avenue W, as it was once the location of a bridge to Magnolia.

W Lawton Way was changed to W Armory Way in 1973, presumably in anticipation of the construction in 1974 of an armory for the Washington Army National Guard. Will its name be changed again once the National Guard moves — or if it becomes the location of a new Magnolia Bridge?

(Another Armory Way near Pike Place Market existed on paper for many years — from 1936 to 2019 — but was never built. Something similar is currently under construction.)