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)

Lake Shore Boulevard NE

This street, created in 1906 as part of the Lake Shore View Addition to Seattle, begins in the north at NE 105th Street and Exeter Avenue NE, and curves south for a mile along the Burke-Gilman Trail, which parallels the Lake Washington shoreline, to a dead end at the north boundary of Matthews Beach Park. Unlike most, though not all, boulevards in Seattle, this one is not one of the Olmsted boulevards designed by John Charles Olmsted in 1903.

Riviera Place NE

This narrow street, created in 1926 as part of Riviera Beach, an Addition to King County, Washington, Divisions № 1, 2, 3, and 4, and situated between the shoreline of Lake Washington and the right-of-way of the Northern Pacific Railway, appears on the plats simply as “Road” — it first appears in The Seattle Times on July 20, 1930, as “Riviera Beach Road,” and then on July 2, 1932, with its current name. The name simply means ‘coastline’ in Italian.

Today, Riviera Place NE begins at the north city limits, where Seattle meets Lake Forest Park at the NE 145th Street right-of-way, and goes nearly a mile south along the Lake Washington shoreline to a spot a few houses north of NE 125th Street, where it ends at one house and picks up again on the other side of its neighbor. From there, it runs 1¼ miles south to its end at Lake Shore Boulevard NE between NE 100th Street and NE 103rd Street. The portions between the NE 135th Street right-of-way and NE 125th Street are private.

Riviera Place NE is probably most notable to the city at large for being the location of the NE 130th Street End park, which became an official park in 2019 after years of controversy. It’s not, strictly speaking, a shoreline street end, because it’s owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation, rather than being a right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Seattle Department of Transportation. This is because it was never properly dedicated to the public in 1932 (see background and court filings). For years, it had been treated as just another shoreline street end, but in 2012, when the city announced its intention to make improvements to the beach to improve public access, the neighbors on either side filed suit, and ended up having their ownership of the lot confirmed. The city ended up having to exercise its right of eminent domain, condemned the property, and paid the neighbors $400,000 each. (As unfortunate as it was to have to pay $800,000 for the street end, I’d say it was worth it, as NE 130th is the only accessible shoreline street end north of NE 43rd Street, and the only public lake access, period, north of Matthews Beach [around where NE 95th Street would be if it had been platted into the water].)

View of NE 130th Street park on Lake Washington east of Burke-Gilman Trail and Riviera Place NE, June 18, 2019.
View of NE 130th Street End park on Lake Washington east of Riviera Place NE, June 18, 2019. Photograph by Flickr user Seattle Parks and Recreation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

NW North Beach Drive

This short street runs just over 750 feet from Triton Drive NW in the west to NE 98th Street in the east, just west of 24th Avenue NW. It was established in 1926 as part of North Beach, an Addition to the City of Seattle; at the time, it extended farther south, but that section is now 26th Avenue NW. The beach being referred to is on Puget Sound, across the BNSF Railway tracks from what is now NW Esplanade.

Although it bears the neighborhood’s name, houses along North Beach Drive are actually only eligible for associate, not full, membership in the North Beach Club, as the community boundary map shows. This is because the club, which originated in 1927 as the Golden View Improvement Club, was formed by and for residents of the Golden View and Golden View Division № 2 subdivisions, platted in 1924 and 1926, respectively. (According to state records, the GVIC was administratively dissolved in 1982 and merged into the North Beach Club [founded 1990] in 2006. [No word on what entity managed affairs from 1982 to 1990.]) In 1930, the club took over responsibility for the subdivisions’ water system from the developer, who as part of the deal deeded 1,500 feet of Puget Sound beach to the organization. It is this private beach, accessible via a short path from NW Esplanade at 28th Avenue NW, that is the North Beach Club’s primary raison d’être today, the water system having been hooked into the city supply long ago. Today’s associate members are the “descendants” of those who were interested in the Golden View additions’ water system 91 years ago but lived outside the subdivision boundaries — including residents of NW North Beach Drive.

NE Windermere Road

This semicircular street in Seattle’s Windermere neighborhood runs just over a mile from Sand Point Way NE between NE 55th Street and NE 58th Street in the west to just north of NE 61st Street in the east, at the southern end of Magnuson Park. The street and neighborhood itself were named after Windermere, the largest lake in England.

Plat of Windermere, an Addition to the City of Seattle, 1937
Plat of Windermere, an Addition to the City of Seattle, 1937. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 1628.

Windermere was developed in the late 1920s by Laurence James Colman (1859–1935) and his son, Kenneth Burwell Colman (1896–1982). Their J.M. Colman Company, founded by Laurence and his brother, George Arnot Colman (1861–1933), was named for Laurence and George’s father, James Murray Colman (1832–1906), namesake of Colman Dock and the Colman Building. (Colman Pool was established by Kenneth and named after Laurence.)

Unfortunately, as with far too many Seattle subdivisions, Windermere deeds came with racial restrictive covenants. The relevant part of this deed reads as follows:

Said property shall not be conveyed, sold, rented, or otherwise disposed of, in whole or in part, to, or be occupied by, any person or persons except of a white and Gentile race, except, however, in the case of a servant actually employed by the lawful owner or occupant thereof.

Notably, although membership in the Windermere Corporation does come with access to the private Windermere Park and Beach Club, all streets in the neighborhood are public — it is a gated community only in spirit.

Lakeview Boulevard E

Lakeview Boulevard E, which originated in David and Louisa Denny’s 1886 East Park Addition to the City of Seattle, is named for its view of Lake Union to the west. For a time part of the Pacific Highway (now routed onto Aurora Avenue N), it begins today at an overpass over Interstate 5 at Eastlake Avenue E and Mercer Street and goes a mile north to Boylston Avenue E and E Newton Street.

Interstate 5 blocks the view of the lake from much of the northern section of the street, but the southern section’s view is still more or less intact.

View of Lake Union looking northwest from Lakeview Boulevard overpass at Belmont Avenue E, May 12, 2018
View of Lake Union, Eastlake, and Wallingford, looking northwest from Lakeview Boulevard overpass at Belmont Avenue E, May 12, 2018. Photograph by Flickr user GabboT, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
View of Lake Union looking southwest from Lakeview Boulevard overpass at Belmont Avenue E, May 12, 2018
View of Lake Union, Westlake, and Queen Anne looking southwest from Lakeview Boulevard overpass at Belmont Avenue E, May 12, 2018. Photograph by Flickr user GabboT, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic