Padilla Place S

This street was created in 1889 as part of the Commercial Street Steam Motor Addition to the City of Seattle. It appears to have been named for Padilla Bay, which lies between Guemes and Fidalgo Islands and the mainland and is about 60 miles northwest of Seattle, as S Orcas Street appears to honor Orcas Island and S Fidalgo Street, Fidalgo Island. Like Orcas Island, it was named after Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, Viceroy of New Spain, who sent an expedition to explore the area in the early 1790s.

Padilla Place S begins at S Homer Street and goes two blocks southwest to S Fidalgo Street, crossing S Orcas Street on the way.

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

Lakeside Avenue

This street first appeared in 1890 as part of Yesler’s Third Addition to the City of Seattle, and ran two blocks from what is now E Alder Street to the north end of what is now Leschi Park. It was so named for running along the Lake Washington shoreline.

Today, Lakeside Avenue begins a block further south, where Lake Washington Boulevard leaves the shoreline and begins winding its way through Leschi and Frink Parks. It becomes Lakeside Avenue S at the north end of Leschi Park, and ends where Lake Washington Boulevard S rejoins the shoreline at Colman Beach, for a total distance of 1¼ miles.

Leschi Marina
Leschi Marina from Lakeside Avenue S, April 30, 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Lake Park Drive S

Like S Mount Baker Boulevard and Hunter Boulevard S, this street was created in 1907 as part of the plat of Mt. Baker Park, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by the Hunter Tract Improvement Company along with Rollin Valentine Ankeny and his wife, Eleanor Randolph Ankeny. It was so named for connecting the north end of the neighborhood to Lake Washington at Mount Baker Beach.

Aerial of Mount Baker Park, March 18, 1971
Aerial of Mount Baker Park, March 18, 1971. Lake Park Drive S is just east (toward the bottom of the photograph) of the green swath at center. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 78115

Lake Park Drive S begins at the intersection of S McClellan Street, S Mount Baker Boulevard, Mount Baker Drive S, and Mount Rainier Drive S, and goes ⅓ of a mile north to Lake Washington Boulevard S.

Lake Shore Drive S

This street, created in 1926 as part of the plat of The Uplands (S Upland Road), was so named because it runs along the Lake Washington shoreline just south of Seward Park.

Full-page ad for The Uplands in The Seattle Times, September 27, 1925
Full-page ad for The Uplands in The Seattle Times, September 27, 1925. Lake Shore Drive is at the lower right-hand corner of the plat.

Lake Shore Drive S begins at Seward Park Avenue S and S Hawthorn Road and goes ¼ mile south to S Eddy Street.

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.

Shoreline Park Drive NW

This street was created in 1964 as part of the plat of Shoreline Park Estates. The subdivision was presumably named for Carkeek Park, which surrounds it on three sides and features a long Puget Sound shoreline.

Advertisement for Shoreline Park Estates, The Seattle Times, September 20, 1964
Advertisement for Shoreline Park Estates, The Seattle Times, September 20, 1964. The address and phone number of Royal Homes Realty — 14802 Westminster Way N., Seattle 33, EMerson 4-5180 — would today be Shoreline, WA 98133, 206-364-5180, because of the incorporation of Shoreline in 1995; the mandatory use of ZIP Codes by bulk mailers, which began in 1967; the transition to all-number calling, which was completed in Greater Seattle in 1972; and the mandatory use of 10-digit dialing, which began in Greater Seattle in 2017.

Shoreline Park Drive NW runs about 275 feet between NW 118th Street and NW 117th Street. The developers dedicated a walkway west of NW 117th Street to the public; this connects to the Grand Fir Trail, one of Carkeek Park’s many trails.

NE Thornton Place

Thornton Creek runs 18 miles from Shoreline to Seattle, where it empties into Lake Washington at Matthews Beach Park. Its watershed, which drains 11.6 square miles, is the largest in Seattle. Yet until recently, no street bore its name — and the one that now does is a short private road.

The creek is named for John Q. Thornton (1825–1904), who, as Valarie Bunn tells us, never actually lived in the Seattle area, but in 1885 bought land near what are today Meridian Park and Twin Ponds Park, at or near the headwaters of Meridian Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of Thornton Creek. Bunn’s article includes a government land claim map from 1889 on which the creek is labeled with his name and speculates the mapmaker chose that name simply because of the proximity of Thornton’s property.

NE Thornton Place, which runs not quite 500 feet between 3rd Avenue NE and NE 103rd Street, cuts through the Thornton Place development, built on the site of a former Northgate Mall parking lot under which Thornton Creek ran in a culvert. A portion of the creek was daylighted as part of the project. (Incidentally, I had the pleasure of seeing the IMAX version of The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert at the Regal Thornton Place on January 30 of this year, the 53rd anniversary of the historic event. I am an even bigger fan of the Beatles than I am of odonymy!)

John Thornton
John Thornton

Marginal Place SW

This street, created in 1919 by Ordinance 39638, is named for W Marginal Way SW. It begins there and goes just under 800 feet northwest to a dead end underneath the West Seattle Bridge. The Duwamish Trail continues on from there to the West Seattle Bridge Trail, while the 18th Avenue SW stairway heads south up the hill to SW Charlestown Street in Pigeon Point.

E Superior Street

This street, along with E Huron Street and Erie Avenue, was created in 1890 as part of Yesler’s Third Addition to the City of Seattle. It was named for Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, and the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.

E Superior Street begins at Euclid Avenue and goes 1⁄10 of a mile east to Erie Avenue.

E Huron Street

This street, along with E Superior Street and Erie Avenue, was created in 1890 as part of Yesler’s Third Addition to the City of Seattle. It was named for Lake Huron, second largest of the Great Lakes by surface area.

E Huron Street begins at Euclid Avenue and goes 1⁄10 of a mile east to Lake Washington Boulevard.

Erie Avenue

This street, along with E Superior Street and E Huron Street, was created in 1890 as part of Yesler’s Third Addition to the City of Seattle. It was named for Lake Erie, fourth largest of the Great Lakes by surface area.

Erie Avenue begins at Leschi Park south of Lake Washington boulevard and goes ⅓ of a mile north to E Jefferson Street.

Elliott Avenue

Elliott Avenue, which originated as Water Street in A.A. Denny’s 6th Addition to the City of Seattle, filed in 1873, received its current name in 1895 as part of the Great Renaming. It was named for Elliott Bay, which was itself named for Midshipman Samuel Bonnyman Elliott (1822–1876), part of the United States Exploring Expedition, otherwise known as the Wilkes Expedition. (Even though for years people thought the bay had been named for Chaplain J.L. Elliott, Howard Hanson makes a convincing argument in “The Naming of Elliott Bay: Shall We Honor the Chaplain or the Midshipman?”, an article in the January 1954 issue of The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, that the honor belongs to the midshipman.)

Elliott Avenue begins at Western Avenue and Lenora Street and goes 2⅕ miles northwest to halfway between W Galer Street and W Garfield Street, where it becomes 15th Avenue W.

Looking south down Elliott Avenue W at W Mercer Place, August 1921, from http://archives.seattle.gov/digital-collections/index.php/Detail/objects/25558
Looking south down Elliott Avenue W at W Mercer Place, August 1921. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 1862
Looking northwest up Elliott Avenue W from the W Thomas Street pedestrian bridge, August 2015. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elliott_Ave,_at_3rd_Ave_and_Thomas_Street,_Seattle.JPG
Looking northwest up Elliott Avenue W from the W Thomas Street pedestrian bridge, August 2015. Photograph by Dllu, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Montlake Boulevard E

This street originated as University Boulevard. Opening on June 1, 1909, it connected Washington Park Boulevard (now E Lake Washington Boulevard) to the entrance to the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition (now the campus of the University of Washington). The plan was for it to continue through campus and connect via 17th Avenue NE to Ravenna Boulevard, but this was not done due to opposition from the Board of Regents. Instead, the road was extended along what was then Union Bay shoreline to NE 45th Street. It has been part of the state highway system since 1937.

Montlake Boulevard was named after Montlake Park, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed in 1908, which later gave its name to the entire neighborhood. Most of the street, however, is on the other side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Montlake Park Ad, Seattle P-I, January 1, 1911
Montlake Park ad, Seattle P-I, January 1, 1911. “Both the Cascade and Olympic range of mountains are within the range of vision, and every lot has an equal and forever unobstructible view of one of the lakes [Lake Union and Lake Washington]. Hence the name, ‘MONT-LAKE.’”

Today, Montlake Boulevard E (as well as Washington State Route 513) begins at the intersection of E Lake Washington Boulevard and E Montlake Place E, just south of the Washington State Route 520 freeway, and goes 1⅓ miles north, then northeast, to NE 45th Street, just south of University Village. It becomes Montlake Boulevard NE as it crosses the Montlake Cut of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (State Route 513 continues for another 2 miles along NE 45th Street and Sand Point Way NE, ending at NE 65th Street just west of Magnuson Park.)

Montlake Bridge, looking southbound, August 2021
Montlake Bridge, looking southbound, August 2021. The bridge opened in 1925 and is the easternmost bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Photograph by Flickr user Seattle Department of Transportation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic
Street sign at corner of E Montlake Place E, E Lake Washington Boulevard, and Montlake Boulevard E, August 24, 2009
Street sign at corner of E Montlake Place E, E Lake Washington Boulevard, and Montlake Boulevard E. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, August 24, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.
West Montlake Park, January 2013
West Montlake Park, January 2013. The body of water is Portage Bay (Lake Union); South Campus of the University of Washington is at right, across the Montlake Cut, and the University Bridge and Ship Canal Bridge are visible in the distance. Photograph by Orange Suede Sofa, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Puget Boulevard SW

Puget Boulevard is a curious street, for a number of reasons:

  • The paved portions are only a few blocks long — hardly comparable to, say, Lake Washington Boulevard or Magnolia Boulevard;
  • Both east–west and north–south portions are called Puget Boulevard SW, contrary to the rule that directional designations precede street names for east–west streets (this is why Lake Washington Boulevard E becomes E Lake Washington Boulevard when it curves west on its approach to Montlake Boulevard E);
  • Despite its name, it has no view of Puget Sound, sitting as it does in the Longfellow Creek valley in the Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle;
  • And, as it turns out, it isn’t even named for Puget Sound, as might be expected, but rather for the Puget Mill Company (later part of Pope & Talbot and today part of Rayonier).

The Puget Mill Company, which once owned large swaths of land in the city (including what became the Washington Park Arboretum and the Broadmoor Golf Club), made two donations to the city in 1912, according to the Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners:

  • “A rugged tract of logged-off land south of Pigeon Point and Youngstown in the large unplatted area” (20.5 acres — this became Puget Park); and
  • “A strip of land 160 feet in width extending from Sixteenth Avenue Southwest and Edmonds Street (sic) to Thirty-fifth Avenue Southwest and Genessee Street, a distance of 8,500 feet, and comprising an area of about fifteen acres for parkway purposes. Under the conditions of this gift improvement work must be undertaken within five years. This acquisition forms an important link in the contemplated boulevard to West Seattle.”

This strip is today’s Puget Boulevard SW. Two things become apparent when looking at the King County Parcel Viewer map of West Seattle:

Map of Puget Boulevard, from King County Parcel Viewer
Map of Puget Boulevard, from King County Parcel Viewer

Once past the present site of West Seattle Stadium, the “contemplated boulevard to West Seattle” was to have run, as the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks puts it,

[Across] California Avenue a few blocks north of [the] present-day Alaska Junction, at that time part of the “Boston Subdivision.” It would have then headed northwest and down a ravine, eventually turning southwest to terminate at Alki Point.

Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map of Seattle's park system
Map of proposed West Seattle Parkway, cropped from a 1928 map showing both existing (red) and proposed (red hatched) park features. Puget Park and Boulevard are at lower right. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 2333.

Returning to the question of the name — the Puget Mill Company was, of course, named after Puget Sound, which itself was named in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver of HMS Discovery for Lieutenant Peter Puget (1765–1822).

Today, the paved portion of Puget Boulevard SW begins at 23rd Avenue SW, about 1⁄10 of a mile north of SW Hudson Street, and goes ⅕ of a mile south to a dead end. After a very short section — not more than 150 feet long — east of Delridge Way SW, which serves as a driveway for a complex of townhouses, it resumes west of a foot path off Delridge and goes about 1⁄10 of a mile west to 26th Avenue SW. Along this stretch, there are houses to the north and the Delridge P-Patch and Puget Boulevard Commons to the south.

Beach Drive SW

Like Harbor Avenue SW, Beach Drive SW was once part of Alki Avenue SW. It became Beach Drive sometime between 1912 and 1920. In contrast to Alki and Harbor Avenues, most of Beach Drive’s beaches are private, though there is a long public stretch at the Emma Schmitz Memorial Outlook, as well as Lowman Beach Park at the south end.

Puget Sound shore looking northwest along Beach Drive with Alki Point in distance, August 2007
Puget Sound shore looking northwest along Beach Drive toward Alki Point, August 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Beach Drive SW begins at Alki Avenue SW just south of Alki Point and goes just over 3 miles southeast to Trail #1 at Lincoln Park.

Signs at Beach Drive SW road end, March 2013
Signs along Beach Drive SW a little under 1,000 feet north of Lincoln Park. The park boundary sign is unofficial. Its placement appears to imply that the tail end of Beach Drive is private, which it’s not. Nor is the driveway (SW Othello Street) on the left. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, March 10, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Harbor Avenue SW

As noted in Alaskan Way, Harbor Avenue SW was once part of Railroad Avenue. When the Elliott Bay tidelands were platted in 1895, Railroad Avenue stretched from (using current landmarks) the Magnolia Bridge along the waterfront to the Industrial District, then across Harbor Island to West Seattle, ending southwest of Duwamish Head. In 1907 the West Seattle portion was renamed Alki Avenue, and sometime between 1912 and 1920 it was given its current name.

Looking northwest up what is now Harbor Avenue SW toward Duwamish Head, April 1902
Looking northwest up what is now Harbor Avenue SW toward Duwamish Head, April 1902

Today, Harbor Avenue SW begins at SW Avalon Way and SW Spokane Street at the west end of the West Seattle Bridge and goes 1¾ miles northwest to Duwamish Head, where it becomes Alki Avenue SW.

Street sign at corner of Harbor Avenue SW and Alki Avenue SW, October 2017
Street sign at corner of Harbor Avenue SW and Alki Avenue SW, Duwamish Head, with Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle in background, October 2017. Photograph by Ron Clausen, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

NE Pacific Street

What is now Pacific Street was Harrison Avenue in the 1889 Latona Addition and Railroad Avenue in the 1890 Brooklyn Addition, corresponding to the eastern part of Northlake and to the University District, respectively. The road was built on either side of railroad tracks that were originally part of the independent Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, but which were soon thereafter taken over by the Northern Pacific Railway. (The route of the SLS&E through and east of Seattle is now the Burke–Gilman Trail, the Sammamish River Trail, and the East Lake Sammamish Trail.)

In 1906, Harrison Avenue became Pacific Place and Railroad Avenue became Brintnall Place. (Why the opportunity wasn’t taken to match the names is unclear. Brintnall Place may have been named for Burgess W. Brintnall, who, according to the September 1912 issue of the Northwest Journal of Education, had been school superintendent for Olympia and Thurston County, founded the journal itself, and, after moving to Seattle in 1899, founded the Pacific Teachers Agency. He was murdered on July 3, 1912.)

At some point both streets became Pacific Street. Brintnall Place appears for the last time in The Seattle Times in October 1920, and Pacific Street for the first time in July 1921. The 1920 Kroll atlas shows all three names, including Pacific Place, indicating the change must have been planned at the time of its publication.

I haven’t seen any indication of why the Pacific name was chosen. Seattle got an Atlantic Street in 1895 — maybe it was thought the other major ocean deserved a street as well. But I wonder if it wasn’t named for the Northern Pacific, whose tracks the street ran along?

Street sign where NE Pacific Street becomes N Pacific Street on crossing 1st Avenue NE, August 2011. Photograph by Flickr user Panegyrics of Granovetter (Sarah C. Murray), licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Street sign where NE Pacific Street becomes N Pacific Street on crossing 1st Avenue NE, August 2011. Photograph by Flickr user Panegyrics of Granovetter (Sarah C. Murray), licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Today, NE Pacific Street begins at Montlake Boulevard NE, at the north end of the Montlake Bridge and the southeastern corner of the University of Washington campus, and goes ¾ of a mile to Eastlake Place NE, underneath the University Bridge, where it becomes NE Northlake Way. It begins again at NE 40th Street just west of the Ship Canal Bridge and goes another ¾ of a mile to N 34th Street just east of Meridian Avenue N.

Pacific Street’s current configuration is the result of a realignment that took place in the 1970s; originally, instead of turning west at University Way NE, it kept going northwest, cutting through what is now the University of Washington’s West Campus, and there was no interruption between the University and Ship Canal Bridges. The Burke–Gilman Trail follows the original railroad alignment, though, as does, for a few blocks, the campus road Cowlitz Road NE.

N Canal Street

This street appears to have been built sometime between 1908 and 1912. (It was established by ordinance in 1906, but that was legislation, not construction. [It was also originally named Ewing Street, the original name of N 34th Street, which still exists on the Queen Anne side of the Ship Canal.]) When the plat of Denny & Hoyt’s Addition to the City of Seattle, W.T., was filed in 1888, no such street was needed, because there was no canal. Instead, Ross Creek connected Lake Union to Salmon Bay. However, as work on the Lake Washington Ship Canal progressed, the Fremont Cut came into being, and it must have been felt a street paralleling the canal to the north was needed, since the original plat took no notice of the creek or any future canal route. (One to the south was needed, too, which is why Nickerson Street was extended from 3rd Avenue W to 4th Avenue N, at the southern end of the Fremont Bridge.)

Why, then, is Canal Street so short — not quite ⅓ of a mile from N 34th Street and Phinney Avenue N in the east to 2nd Avenue NW in the west?

As it turns out, even though Canal Street was to run to what was then the boundary between the cities of Seattle and Ballard at 8th Avenue NW, shortly after Seattle annexed Ballard in 1907 another street was laid out parallel to the canal connecting Fremont to the new neighborhood of Ballard: Leary Way NW (then simply Leary Avenue, all the way from Market Street to Fremont Avenue). Leary became the main arterial, and in 1951 NW Canal Street was vacated between 3rd Avenue NW and 8th Avenue NW, reducing it to its present length. (Until 2016, there was a slight discontinuity in the vicinity of 1st Avenue NW and N 35th Street where the built street deviated from its right-of-way, making it even shorter.)

So this isn’t quite the same as our trio of S Front Street, S River Street, and S Riverside Drive literally being cut short by the rechanneling of the Duwamish River into the Duwamish Waterway — more one of Canal Street being supplanted by Leary Way and becoming more valuable to the city as industrial land than as roadway.

S Riverside Drive

As you might expect, this street is so named because it runs along the west bank of the Duwamish Waterway. However, it only does so for about ⅖ of a mile, from S Webster Street east of 5th Avenue S to a dead end on the river just north of a path to t̓ałt̓ałucid Park and Shoreline Habitat (formerly the 8th Avenue S street end, just north of S Portland Street). It is by no means a prominent street, contrary to what such a name usually implies (Los Angeles, Manhattan, Ottawa, Spokane). In this way it is similar to Seattle’s S Front Street and S River Street. Why is this?

Also as you might expect, it’s for the same reason Front and River Streets are relatively unimportant: the rechanneling of the Duwamish River that started in 1913. Originally Duwamish Avenue in the 1891 plat of River Park, as seen in the image below, Riverside Drive used to curve around a bend in the river. When the river was straightened, the road was cut off right in the middle and became a Riverside Drive to nowhere.

Portion of River Park addition showing Duwamish Avenue (now Riverside Drive)
Portion of River Park addition showing Duwamish Avenue (now Riverside Drive)
Sign at corner of S Holden Street, S Riverside Drive, and 7th Avenue S, May 20, 2013
Signs at corner of S Holden Street, S Riverside Drive, and 7th Avenue S, May 20, 2013. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2013 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.