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.

Aurora Avenue N

What is now Aurora Avenue N began in 1888 as Aurora Street in Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, previously discussed in our post on Dravus Street. Edward Blewett and his wife, Carrie, of Fremont, Nebraska, were the landowners, and Edward Corliss Kilbourne (1856–1959) filed the plat as attorney-in-fact for the Blewetts. Dr. Kilbourne (a dentist), was from Aurora, Illinois, and it seems to be generally accepted (The Fremocentrist, Wedgwood in Seattle History, Fremont Neighborhood Council, Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle) that he named the street after his hometown.

(I have seen elsewhere [HistoryLinkWashington’s Pacific Highway], that Aurora was given its name sometime in the early 20th century by George F. Cotterill, mayor of Seattle from 1912–1914, because it was “the highway to the north, toward the aurora borealis,” but they have the century wrong, and Aurora Street was no highway in 1888. In addition, those two pages call him “city engineer, later mayor,” but he was never city engineer — although he was assistant city engineer from 1892–1900. The Licton Springs Community Council mentions both theories.)

At any rate, Ordinance 6947, filed on June 6, 1901, refers to the street as Aurora Street, and Ordinance 7942, filed on November 5 of that year, refers to it as Aurora Avenue. I can find no specific record of the name change, but Ordinance 6864, filed on May 8, has to do with “altering, defining and establishing the names of streets in the City of Seattle in the portion thereof lying north of Lake Union, Salmon Bay and the route of the Lake Washington Canal,” and is likely responsible. (No text is available online for the ordinance, and the drafters of Ordinance 6947 must have neglected to take the change into account.)

Aurora Avenue N might have remained just another North Seattle street were it not for the decision to route the Pacific Highway, U.S. Route 99, across the Lake Washington Ship Canal there instead of Stone Way N, Albion Place N, Whitman Avenue N, or Linden Avenue N. As it happened, Aurora was chosen as the location for the crossing (known today as the Aurora Bridge), and the name was officially extended through Queen Anne to Downtown Seattle in 1930 in preparation for the bridge’s opening in 1932.

Lake Union, Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Fremont Bridge, and the George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge), Seattle, Washington, circa 1932, from https://flickr.com/photos/uw_digital_images/4860576629/
Postcard of Lake Union, Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Fremont Bridge, and the George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge), circa 1932. View looks southeast, with Fremont in foreground. Public domain image from University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.
Aurora Bridge, 2011, from https://flickr.com/photos/mlinksva/5996553637/, public domain
Aurora Bridge, 2011. View looks east, with Gas Works Park and Wallingford neighborhood at center, Lake Union and Capitol Hill at right. Public domain photo by Flickr user Mike Linksvayer.

Today, Aurora Avenue N begins at 7th Avenue N and Harrison Street by the north portal of the State Route 99 Tunnel and goes 7⅘ miles north to the city limits; the name continues 3 further miles to the King–Snohomish county line, and the highway another 12 miles beyond that to Broadway in Everett. A block-long segment from 6th Avenue and Battery Street to Denny Way has been renamed Borealis Avenue, and Aurora between Denny Way and Harrison Street is once again 7th Avenue N. A two-block-long segment underneath the north approach to the Aurora Bridge has also been changed to Troll Avenue N.

Florentia Street

Florentia Street is the last in a series of streets, created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. From north to south, they are Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia. As can be seen in the plat map below, Florentia is not only the last in the series but the southern boundary of the plat itself.

Florentia is the Latin name of the city of Florence, known in Italian as Firenze.

Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt's Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets
Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets

Some detail in addition to that gone into in the post on Dravus Street:

Florentia Street begins in the east at 4th Avenue N (the southern end of the Fremont Bridge) and goes ½ a mile west to 3rd Avenue W.

Etruria Street

Etruria Street is another one of those streets created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, part of a series — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. Etruria, the land of the ancient Etruscans, was located in what is now the regions of Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria, northwest of Rome.

Etruria Street begins in the east at the Ship Canal Trail and 3rd Avenue N, and goes just over ⅖ of a mile west to 3rd Avenue W. It resumes east of 8th Avenue W at a Seattle Pacific University parking lot and goes a further ¼ of a mile west to 10th Avenue W.

 

Cremona Street

Cremona Street is another street created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, part of a series of streets — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. Cremona, or Cremùna in the local dialect, is a city in Lombardy, perhaps best known for its luthiers, most notably Antonio Stradivari.

Cremona Street begins in the east at the Ship Canal Trail and goes ¼ of a mile west to 3rd Avenue W and the entrance to Seattle Pacific University. On the other side of campus it goes a further ⅕ of a mile west from 6th Avenue W to 9th Avenue W.

W Bertona Street

This street, as with Dravus Street, was created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory, and is also is part of a series of streets — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy. Montebello di Bertona (Mundibbèlle in the Abruzzese dialect) is a small town in Pescara, Abruzzo, located near Mt. Bertona.

Technically, W Bertona Street begins as Bertona Street at the Ship Canal Trail around 80 feet east of Queen Anne Avenue N, but both streets there are little more than parking aisles nestled up against Seattle Pacific University’s Wallace Field. W Bertona begins in earnest at W Nickerson Street and goes ¾ of a mile west to 14th Avenue W, where it becomes a block-long stairway to 15th Avenue W. On the other side of 15th, it goes two more blocks before being stopped by the BNSF Railway tracks at 17th Avenue W; on the other side of the tracks it goes ⅗ of a mile west from 20th Avenue W to 30th Avenue W, becoming a stairway again for a block just about halfway. As with its Magnolia partner W Dravus Street, it’s ⅓ of a mile from 31st Avenue W to 36th Avenue W, where it becomes a stairway for a block, and then ½ a mile more from 37th Avenue W to 45th Avenue W. There is finally a 300-foot-long segment west of Perkins Lane W, where the roadway ends. (There is a shoreline street end beyond that, but it is currently inaccessible.)

Dravus Street

This street was created in 1888 as part of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory by Edward Blewett and his wife, Carrie, of Fremont, Nebraska, who had purchased the land a few months earlier from Arthur Denny and John Hoyt. According to Valarie Bunn in her article “Fremont in Seattle: Street Names and Neighborhood Boundaries,” Edward Corliss Kilbourne may have done much of the actual naming of streets as attorney-in-fact for the Blewetts.

Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt's Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets
Portion of plat map of Denny and Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, Washington Territory (1888) showing Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia Streets

As can be seen in the plat map above, Dravus is part of a series of streets — Aetna, Bertona, Cremona, Dravus, Etruria, and Florentia — that appear in alphabetical order and have the common theme of being locations in Italy, which had been unified 17 years earlier. I have yet to find a connection between Denny, Hoyt, the Blewetts, or Kilbourne and Italy. The closest I’ve come is an item in the February 28, 1903, issue of The Seattle Mail and Herald, which reports that “on February 27, the Woman’s Century Club met and discussed the subject ‘Italian Art and Literature.’ Mrs. Bessie L. Savage and Mrs. E.C. Kilbourne [Leilla Shorey] prepared papers relating to these subjects.” I would love to find out if there’s anything more solid!

The Drava River, which originates in the Italian region of the South Tyrol, flows from there through Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, forming much of the border between that country and Hungary, and joining the Danube on the Croatia–Serbia border. It was known as Dravus in Latin and Δράβος in Greek.

Dravus Street begins in the east at Nickerson Street and goes ⅗ of a mile west to 8th Avenue W and Conkling Place W. It resumes for half a block at 10th Avenue W, is briefly a foot path and stairway, and then is an arterial connecting Queen Anne and Magnolia via Interbay, going just over a mile from 11th Avenue W to 30th Avenue W. (This section was originally known as Grand Boulevard, and indeed W Dravus is double the width of the other streets in the area, though it features wide planting strips instead of a central median.) It’s ⅓ of a mile from 31st Avenue W to 36th Avenue W, where it becomes a stairway for a block, and then ½ a mile more from 37th Avenue W to just west of Magnolia Boulevard W, where the roadway ends. (There is a shoreline street end off Perkins Lane W, but it is currently inaccessible.)

W Armour Street

This street was named in 1890 as part of Gilman’s Addition to the City of Seattle, which, as noted in Gilman Avenue W and other articles on streets in that addition, was associated with Daniel Hunt Gilman and the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway (SLS&E).

In the below excerpt from Thomas W. Prosch’s A Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897 (1901), some of Gilman’s fellow investors are listed, including Judge Thomas Burke (Burke Avenue N, Burke–Gilman Trail), James D. Smith (W Commodore Way), and Herman Ossian Armour. (The D is a typo, perhaps because of his brother, Philip Danforth Armour’s, middle initial.) The brothers founded the Chicago meatpacking company Armour and Company in 1867. 

Paragraph on establishment of Puget Sound Construction Company in 1886
Paragraph on establishment of Puget Sound Construction Company in 1886

In his article “The Orphan Railroad and the Rams Horn Right of Way,” in the April 1923 issue of The Washington Historial Quarterly, C.H. Hanford writes of the SLS&E, “A number of Seattle men… subscribed to the capital of the new company to the extent of their means, and having gained so much, Gilman and Judge Burke were successful in inducing Philip D. Armour of Chicago to advance the money required to start the enterprise.” So it is unclear just which Armour brother the street is named for — perhaps it is named for them both.

W Armour Street starts at 1st Avenue N and goes two blocks west to 1st Avenue W, where it is stopped by Rodgers Park. It makes it two more blocks, from 3rd Avenue W to 5th Avenue W, before again being stopped, this time by Mount Pleasant Cemetery. From there it exists in a number of short segments, including paths and stairs, before being stopped, once again, by the Interbay Golf Center at 15th Avenue W. Once across the railroad tracks in Magnolia, there is a nearly uninterrupted ¾ mile stretch from Thorndyke Avenue W to the West Magnolia Playfield at 32nd Avenue W, and then a few more short segments west of 34th Avenue W, ending for good at 46th Avenue W. (There is a shoreline street end off Perkins Lane W, but it is currently inaccessible.)

W Bothwell Street

This Queen Anne street exists in three separate block-long segments: 8th to 9th Avenues W, 10th to 11th Avenues W, and 12th to 13th Avenues W. It was named by and for James Bothwell (1858–1945), as part of the Home Addition to Seattle, Washington Territory, in 1888. In 1903, the Lewis Publishing Company’s A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington, Including Biographies of Many of Those Who Have Passed Away, wrote of Bothwell:

Among the representative business men of Seattle none are more deserving of representation in this volume than James Bothwell, who is now successfully engaged in the mortgage, loan, fire insurance business, and care of property and estates in that city.