Spring Street

Spring Street was another of Seattle’s “first streets.” Sophie Frye Bass writes in Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle:

Where springs of clear water bubbled from the earth and the beach was sandy and free from rocks, there the Indians camped. Such a choice spot was Tzee-tzee-lal-litch [dzidzəlalič], which Arthur Denny called Spring Street.

Spring Street begins at Alaskan Way and runs nearly a mile, to Harvard Avenue, before it is interrupted. A few more segments run through the Central District and Madrona. The last is from 38th Avenue to Grand Avenue, at which point it continues to Lake Washington Boulevard as a footpath and stairway.

NW Esplanade

More common in older cities like London (Aldgate, Cheapside, Crosswall, Eastcheap, Houndsditch, Lothbury, Minories, Moorgate, Poultry, Queenhithe, St. Mary Axe, and Walbrook, just to name those that merit a Wikipedia article of their own), single-word street names are a rarity in Seattle. NW Esplanade is one of them. It was platted in 1924 as part of the Golden View Addition, and its extension in 1927 as part of the Loyal Heights Annex.

NW Esplanade runs just over half a mile along the Puget Sound shoreline from Triton Drive NW in the northeast to just shy of the northern boundary of Golden Gardens Park in the southwest. For those who might not know, the word means “a long, open, level area, usually next to a river or large body of water where people may walk.”

Bitter Place N

This street runs a tenth of a mile along the Bitter Lake waterfront from N 134th Street to the grounds of Broadview-Thomson K-8 School and Bitter Lake Playground. It was established in 1923 as part of Bitter Lake Villa Tracts.

Bitter Lake itself was so named because, as HistoryLink puts it, “A small, lake-bound sawmill operation at the southwest corner of Bitter Lake contracted with the Puget Mill and Brown Bay Logging Company to process their lumber cut from nearby forests. The tannic acid from logs dumped into the lake was so bitter that horses refused to drink from it, thus giving the 20-acre pond its name.” Its native name is čʼalqʼʷadiʔ, meaning ‘blackcaps on the sides’.

Portage Bay Place E

This street, which runs ³⁄₁₀ of a mile from Fuhrman Avenue E to E Allison Street, was established as an alley in 1890 as part of the Denny–Fuhrman Addition to the City of Seattle, but only received a name in 1936. It was named for Portage Bay, the eastern arm of Lake Union, which it parallels. Portage Bay was in turn named for the portage from Union Bay (part of Lake Washington) to Lake Union over the Montlake Isthmus, which is today the Montlake Cut of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Bay Street

This street, which runs for a little over a tenth of a mile from Elliott to 1st Avenues, was originally named Grant Street by William Nathaniel Bell in 1881. 14 years later, it was one of the many streets caught up in the Great Renaming of 1895. Per ordinance 4044, it was “ordained… that the name of Grant Street from Elliott Bay to Depot Street, be and the same are hereby changed to Bay Street.” I can’t imagine it took its name from anywhere other than Elliott Bay.

Fauntleroy Way SW

This 4-mile-long thoroughfare runs from the west end of the West Seattle Bridge to Brace Point, passing Morgan Junction, Lincoln Park, and the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal on the way. It was named for Fauntleroy Cove, location of that terminal, from which riders depart for Vashon Island and Southworth, on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Fauntleroy Cove was itself named after Robert Henry Fauntleroy by George Davidson, Fauntleroy’s future son-in-law. They were both members of the U.S. Coast Survey. He is one of three Fauntleroys whose names appear on Seattle street signs — Ellinor Drive W and Constance Drive W are named for Mounts Ellinor and Constance in the Olympic Mountains, themselves named by Davidson after his future wife and sister-in-law, respectively.

NW Locks Place

Seattle’s newest street name is no longer E Barbara Bailey Way but NW Locks Place — formerly the block of NW 54th Street that ran between NW Market Street and the entrance to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, more commonly known as the Ballard Locks.

Ordinance 125947, passed by the city council in late September, was signed by the mayor the next week and went into effect a few days ago. As the Seattle Department of Transportation explained this summer, the name change stemmed from a request by emergency dispatchers: previously, there were two locations in which NW Market Street and NW 54th Street intersected; once in front of the locks and once over a mile to the east, where Market descends from Phinney Ridge. This name change will serve to eliminate any confusion about what is meant by “the intersection of 54th and Market.”

A similar change was made to Green Lake street names in 1961, when the various segments of Green Lake Way north of NE Ravenna Boulevard and N 72nd Street were changed to Green Lake Drive — previously, Latona Avenue NE, Sunnyside Avenue N, and Ashworth Avenue N (to name a few) had intersected Green Lake Way twice.

Interestingly, only the Lockspot Cafe’s address (3005) is affected by this name change. The other buildings fronting NW Locks Place have addresses on NW Market Street, and the address of the Ballard Locks remains 3015 NW 54th Street.