S Charles Street

Charles Street originates in the 1876 plat of Plummer’s Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by George Washington Harris (late 1840s–1914).* How did Harris end up with the land, and why would he name the addition after Charles Plummer (who, it appears from the text of the plat description, bought the tract from David Swinson “Doc” Maynard in 1860)?

* I write “late 1840s” because Harris’s birth year is given variously as 1848 (death certificate, historical journal article, Tacoma Public Library), 1847 (Genealogy.com, The Seattle Times), and 1846 (Geni, FamilySearch). 

As it turns out: Plummer married Ellender Smith (sister of Dr. Henry A. Smith, namesake of Smith Cove and Smith Street) in 1855. Harris’s mother, Sarah Jane Crossman, was widowed the next year. Plummer himself became a widower when his wife died giving birth to twins Edward and Frank in 1859, and he married Harris’s mother in 1860, apparently at Maynard’s own Alki Point house. Harris then became Plummer’s stepson (and a daughter, Ida, was born to the newlyweds the next year). When Plummer died in 1866, Harris apparently inherited at least this much of his stepfather’s estate. (It’s unclear just what Edward and Ida may have received; Frank is reported to have inherited $60,000.)

Charles Plummer
Charles Plummer

Today, S Charles Street begins at Airport Way S and 6th Avenue S and is stopped a block and a half to the east at 7th Avenue S by the city’s Charles Street Service Center. (Its twin to the south, S Plummer Street, also ends at the service center, never to return.) It briefly reappears at the northern lip of Beacon Hill between 12th Avenue S and Sturgus Avenue S, and then east of Interstate 90 runs for about ⅓ of a mile between Poplar Place S and 20th Place S at Judkins Park. The right-of-way, which continues through the park, becomes an improved street again at 22nd Avenue S, and ends just east of 26th Avenue S. East of here, S Charles runs three blocks from 28th Avenue S to 30th Avenue S, and then around ¼ mile made up of alternating roadway and stairways from the alley west of 32nd Avenue S to a shoreline street end on Lake Washington — one of Leschi’s String of Pearls.

S Judkins Street

S Judkins Street, like S Norman Street, S Addition Street, and SW Seattle Street, was named in the 1869 plat of Judkin’s (sic) Addition to the Town of Seattle, whose street names were, from north to south, Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle.

Plat of Judkin's Addition to the Town of Seattle

Because its original location is covered by King County Metro’s Atlantic Base and Interstate 5, Judkins Street now starts on Beacon Hill just west of 12th Avenue S and goes around 850 feet east to just east of 14th Avenue S, where it becomes a stairway to 15th Avenue S. The unimproved right-of-way continues through a greenbelt to 16th Avenue S, where there exists a 100-foot stretch of Judkins before it is stopped by Sturgus Avenue S, Daejon Park, and Interstate 90. On the other side of I-90, it resumes at 20th Avenue S and goes ⅘ of a mile east to Lake Washington Boulevard S, the last 50 or so feet being a stairway. Between Lake Washington Boulevard S and Lakeside Avenue S, only the first 150 feet is improved, mainly serving as a driveway for two houses. And east of Lakeside Avenue S there is a very short stretch that, like its neighbor to the north, S Norman Street, turns into a shoreline street end on Lake Washington — one of Leschi’s String of Pearls.

Judkins Street gives its name to Judkins Park and Playfield, which stretches for a number of blocks north of S Judkins Street and 22nd Avenue S, as far as Washington Middle School. The land between S Judkins Street and Interstate 90 through which the I-90 Trail winds (part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway) is also sometimes considered to be part of Judkins Park. The park, in turn, gives its name to the neighborhood of Judkins Park, and to the future Judkins Park station of Sound Transit’s Line 2 extension to the Eastside.

Built on the site of a former ravine landfill that was used for about four decades, Judkins Park was transferred to the parks department in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and opened to the public on October 8, 1977, according to a story in the October 6 issue of The Seattle Times.

Aerial view of Judkins Park and Playground, 1965
Aerial view of Judkins Park and Playfield, 1965. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 29470. S Judkins Street is at bottom center and right, below the park. Washington Middle School is at the north end of the park and 23rd Avenue S is the arterial to its east. Lake Washington and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (Washington State Route 520) are visible in the distance.

S Norman Street

For the origin of S Norman Street, we go back to our first street name post, SW Seattle Street, which read in part:

On August 4, 1869, Ike M. Hall — the executor of the estate of Norman B. Judkins — filed the Judkin’s (sic) Addition to the Town of Seattle, located just southwest of where the interchange between I-5 and I-90 is today. From north to south, the east–west streets are named Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle.

Plat of Judkin's Addition to the Town of Seattle

Today, S Norman Street begins on the other side of Beacon Hill, the portion shown above having been obliterated by King County Metro’s Atlantic Base and Interstate 5. (In fact, S Addition Street is the only one remaining in its original location, Judkins Street now starting on Beacon Hill and Seattle Street only existing in West Seattle.) Beginning at Poplar Place S just east of Interstate 90, it goes for a block northeast to Rainier Avenue S. It picks up again at Davis Place S and S Bush Place and goes a block east to 21st Avenue S. Resuming at 22nd Avenue S, just east of Judkins Park (also named for Norman B. Judkins), it goes ⅗ of a mile east to 33rd Avenue S, with only two short interruptions:

  • An unimproved stretch south of St. Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church between 26th Avenue S and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S: what looks to be a bramble patch followed by a driveway for some townhouses; and
  • A stairway from 31st Avenue S to half a block west of 32nd Avenue S.

There appears to be a privately maintained stairway from 33rd Avenue S down to Lake Washington Boulevard S, and the next block is completely unimproved, though in both cases neighbors appear to be incorporating the right-of-way into their yards and driveways. Finally, there is a short stretch of Norman Street east of Lakeside Avenue S that turns into a shoreline street end on Lake Washington — one of Leschi’s String of Pearls

King County Parcel Viewer showing S Norman Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way S
King County Parcel Viewer showing S Norman Street between 26th Avenue S and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. What appears to be a private driveway from Martin Luther King is actually public right-of-way.
King County Parcel Viewer showing S Norman Street from 33rd Avenue S to Lake Washington
King County Parcel Viewer showing S Norman Street from 33rd Avenue S to Lake Washington. The private driveway in the public right-of-way east of Lake Washington Boulevard S (center of image) is easily visible, as is the shoreline street end east of Lakeside Avenue S.

S Roberto Maestas Festival Street

This street, formerly the 1600 block of S Lander Street, runs between 16th and 17th Avenues S on Beacon Hill, north of the Beacon Hill light rail station and south of the Plaza Roberto Maestas housing development of El Centro de la Raza, a social service agency. It was renamed in 2011 in honor of Roberto Maestas (1938–2010), who co-founded El Centro in 1972 in the recently closed Beacon Hill Elementary School.

Roberto Maestas, 2008
Roberto Maestas, 2008. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The street is one of a number of “festival streets” in the city of Seattle: “designated portions of streets intended for frequent public events.” E Barbara Bailey Way is the other one we’ve covered so far.

Cheasty Boulevard S

This Olmsted boulevard was designed in 1910 as Jefferson Boulevard, the entrance to Jefferson Park. It runs about 1⅕ 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

SW Seattle Street

What better way to start things off than with SW Seattle Street?

SW Seattle Street is a minor residential street in West Seattle that runs about ³/₁₀ of a mile from 42nd Avenue SW in the east to Sunset Avenue SW in the west.

It might seem strange that such a short street would be chosen to bear the city’s name — it was the only one to do so until 2010, when the first two blocks of Airport Way S were renamed Seattle Boulevard S — but this has more to do with unimaginative naming than with civic pride.

On August 4, 1869, Ike M. Hall — the executor of the estate of Norman B. Judkins — filed the Judkin’s (sic) Addition to the Town of Seattle, located just southwest of where the interchange between I-5 and I-90 is today. From north to south, the east–west streets are named Norman, B, Judkins, Addition, Town, and Seattle.

Portions of the original Seattle Street were vacated over the years (for example, in 1900, 1957, and 2000), and the construction of I-5 took care of the rest. However, when the city annexed West Seattle in 1907 it changed the name of Maple Street to W Seattle Street as part of rationalizing the street grid… and so the name lives on.

(The city itself, of course, was named after Si’ahl [siʔaɫ], better known in English as Chief Seattle of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes.)

So, why SW Seattle Street instead of Seattle Street SW?

In Seattle, east–west streets have the directional come first, and north–south avenues have it come last. The Wikipedia article “Street layout of Seattle,” which I helped write, has a more comprehensive description of Seattle’s addressing system, including the answer to this question:

Why was it W Seattle Street in 1907 but SW Seattle Street now?

In 1961, city ordinance 89910 “established a standard system of street name designations” so that in almost all cases streets within a given zone would carry the same directional. West Seattle avenues already carried the SW designation.