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.

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