Schmitz Boulevard

This road, and the park through which it runs, Schmitz Park (or Schmitz Preserve Park), was named for German immmigrants Ferdinand Schmitz (1860–1942) and his wife, Emma Althoff Schmitz (1864–1959). Ferdinand was a banker, city councilman, and parks commissioner. He and Emma donated land — mostly, though not entirely, old-growth forest — to the city in 1908, forming the core (just over 55%) of the present park.

The Schmitzes had four children: Dietrich, Henry, Emma Henrietta, and Ferdinand Jr. A banker, Dietrich (1890–1969) became president of Washington Mutual in 1934 and retired as chairman of the board two years before his death. He was also a member of the Seattle School Board from 1928 (or 1930; sources differ) to 1961. Henry (1892–1965) was president of the University of Washington from 1952 to 1958. Schmitz Hall, the university’s administration building on NE Campus Parkway, was named in his memory in 1970.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seattle_-_Schmitz_Park_road_01.jpg
Schmitz Boulevard looking north toward SW Stevens Street and SW Admiral Way. September 2007. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

According to the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks,

The roadway was originally envisioned as a continuation of the West Seattle Parkway, never realized, which would have connected Alki Beach to Lake Washington via a series of parkways. The built section is instead a short road that provided the only automobile entry to Schmitz Park, extending through an allée of trees and terminating at a pergola and shelterhouse.

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. Schmitz Park and Boulevard are at upper left. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 2333.

The portion between 59th Avenue SW and 58th Avenue SW in front of Alki Elementary School having been closed in 1949, Schmitz Boulevard today begins at 58th Avenue SW and SW Stevens Street and goes not quite half a mile east, then southeast, then north, to SW Admiral Way and SW Stevens Street. It is closed to automobile traffic.

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.

Patten Place W

This street was established in 1906 as part of the plat of Patten’s Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by Robert James Patten (1859–1919) and his wife, Harriet (Hattie) Flynn Patten (1866–1959).

According to an article in the October 29, 1905, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Robert bought the tract from H.M. Haller for $9,000. According to the obituary reproduced below, he was a “lumberman, contractor, and real estate man,” originally from Wisconsin, who had come to Seattle that very year, though he had been living in Washington since 1900.

Obituary of Robert James Patten, The Seattle Times, October 6, 1919
Obituary of Robert James Patten, The Seattle Times, October 6, 1919

Patten Place W begins at W Armour Street just north of Bayview Playground and goes about 420 feet north to a dead end, though the undeveloped right-of-way continues on for about 250 feet more to the likewise undeveloped right-of-way of W Barrett Street.

Street sign at corner of Patten Place W and W Armour Street, October 17, 2021
Street sign at corner of Patten Place W and W Armour Street. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 17, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Alaskan Way

Alaskan Way was originally Railroad Avenue. Jennifer Ott writes for HistoryLink.org:

On the central waterfront a web of railroads grew out from the shore in the 1880s and 1890s as various railroads, including the Columbia & Puget Sound, the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern, and the Northern Pacific jockeyed for space at the foot of the bluffs that ended at the beach, where Western Avenue is today. In January 1887 the City Council passed an ordinance establishing Railroad Avenue, a street created, according to historian Kurt Armbruster, to provide space for the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern franchise to the west of the Northern Pacific’s franchise along the shoreline.

Railroad Avenue looking south from between Madison and Marion Streets, circa 1898
Railroad Avenue looking south from between Madison and Marion Streets, circa 1898

When the tidelands were platted in 1895, Railroad Avenue extended to Harbor Island and West Seattle, but:

  • Sometime between 1912 and 1920 the Harbor Island portion was renamed W Florida Street (SW Florida Street today).
  • In 1907, the West Seattle portion was renamed Alki Avenue.
    • Sometime between 1912 and 1920 the West Seattle portion southeast of Duwamish Head was given its current name, Harbor Avenue.

In an article for Crosscut, Knute Berger explains why a new name was wanted for the remainder:

Seattle’s waterfront was unpaved — a beat-up plank road ran its length. There was no modern seawall — the street was built over the water. Train tracks were everywhere.… But the waterfront was undergoing a massive renovation. A seawall was being constructed, the shoreline filled in, the road made into a wide, paved boulevard.…

According to Berger and Ott’s articles, names that were proposed but were ultimately rejected included Anchors Way, Artery Way, Battery Way, Bois Boolong, Bread Street, Cargo Way, Chief Seattle Avenue, Cosmos Quay, Dock Street, Export Way, Fleet Way, Gateway Avenue, Golden West Way, Hiak Avenue, Klatawa Avenue, Maritime Avenue, Metropolis Avenue, Olympian Way, Pacific Way, Pier Avenue, Port Strand, Port Way, Port-Haven Drive, Potlatch Avenue, Puget Avenue, Puget Dyke, Puget Portal, Queen City Way, Roadstead Way, Salt Spray Way, Salt Water Avenue, Seawall Avenue, Seven Seas Road, Skookum Way, Steamship Way, Sunset Avenue, Terminal Avenue, Terrebampo Way, The Battery, The Esplanade, Transit Row, Voyage Way, Welcome Way, and Worldways Road. (Those in italics apparently came under serious consideration.)

So how did we end up with Alaskan Way? And why Alaskan instead of Alaska (the already existing S Alaska Street could have been renamed)?

Alaskan Way, July 1939
Alaskan Way between Marion and Madison Streets, Canadian National Dock at left, July 1939. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 77093

The May 19, 1932, issue of The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Maritime Association had run a renaming contest which received “more than one thousand letters… some of them contained scores of suggestions.” 4,868 names (including duplications) were received, and the judges selected four finalists, in order of preference: Puget Portal (one submission), Klatawa Avenue (one submission, from Chinook Jargon word meaning ‘to go, to travel’), Hiak Avenue (one submission, from Chinook Jargon word meaning ‘lively, quick and fast’), and Maritime Avenue (49 submissions [Maritime Way received 99 submissions but was not chosen]). The next day, the Times reported that the judges had chosen Maritime Avenue, and awarded the $20 prize to a Mr. B.I. Schwartz, the first to have suggested the name.

Alaskan Way Viaduct, July 1952
Alaskan Way Viaduct, July 1952, the year before it opened. The double-decker freeway paralleled Alaskan Way as far north as Union Street, where it diverged from the alignment on its approach to Elliott Avenue and the Battery Street Tunnel. Bell Street Pier, with the large Port of Seattle sign, is at left. The Bell Street Overpass can be seen behind the ‘P’ in ‘Port’. The bridge at the southern end of the pier is the Lenora Street Viaduct. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 43586

However, that July, a George D. Root proposed the name Cosmos Quay. At first, it was met with indifference, and then it seems the entire renaming project was put on the back burner until construction progressed. Somehow, when he restarted his campaign in 1934, Cosmos Quay became a leading candidate, and it was approved unanimously by the city council on January 14, 1935. An ordinance began to be drafted. But, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted the next day, this was only because one councilmember, Frank J. Laube, had been absent… and he was adamantly opposed.

He wasn’t the only one. The Seattle Times published an editorial on January 20 headlined ‘City Locksmith Needed for Pronunciation Key’, which proclaimed that “to burden the waterfront stretch with a name that could be used and understood only through long courses in cosmogony, cosmology, etymology, and articulation would be a sad piece of nonsense for which there is no excuse.” The next day the Times reported that David Levine, city council president, said Cosmos Quay “no longer sounds so good to him. Many citizens have complained its meaning, as well as its pronunciation, mystifies them.” On February 4, according to the P-I, the council killed the ordinance and decided to leave Railroad Avenue as it was.

Alaskan Way Viaduct, February 2018
Alaskan Way Viaduct, February 2018. It closed permanently in January 2019; the replacement tunnel opened the next month. and demolition was complete by November of the same year. Photograph by Flickr user Washington State Department of Transportation, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

When the new street opened in 1936, the question of renaming came up again. Mayor John F. Dore appointed a committee that chose The Pierway, a suggestion that won a W.C. Denison, Jr., a prize of $50 from the mayor’s own pocket, but the final decision lay with the city council, which was not enthused. Pacific Way emerged as their favorite, according to a Seattle Times article on July 2, 1936, though a July 6 article in the same paper “the public apparently was not in accord with the idea.” On July 7, the Times reported that even though “at least seven votes [were] lined up in advance for the adoption of ‘Pacific Way’… with Council President Austin E. Griffiths contending for ‘Cosmos Quay’ or ‘Cosmos Way’,” an ordinance renaming Railroad Avenue “Alaskan Way” passed unanimously.

Alaska Way had been proposed in 1932 by the Puget Sound Travel Directors, according to an article in the April 13 issue of The Seattle Times. (As an aside, it was also proposed in 1931 by attorney John S. Robinson as an alternate name for Aurora Avenue N and the Aurora Bridge, according to a Times article on June 19.) It was also an entry in the Seattle Maritime Association’s aforementioned naming contest, submitted by Fred E. Pauli, manager of the Alaska Division of the Washington Creamery Company, according to a Times article on April 10, 1932. Then, in 1935, after Cosmos Quay had been rejected by the city council, the Alaska Yukon Pioneers endorsed Alaska Way (The Seattle Times, March 5), followed by the Whittier Heights Improvement Club (Times, March 7) and the Junior Alaska-Yukon Pioneers (Times, July 25). When renaming became a distinct possibility once again in 1936, as discussed above, the Alaska Yukon Pioneers passed a resolution in favor of Alaska Way (Times, July 4): “…It was here that the gold rush activity actually took place… put Seattle on the map and directly made possible the magnificent improvement now about completed.”

Alaskan Way south from Bell Street
Alaskan Way looking south from the Bell Street pedestrian bridge, August 2011. The Alaskan Way Viaduct is barely visible at center; the Seattle Aquarium is at center right. Photograph by Orange Suede Sofa, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

It came down to one councilmember, apparently. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on July 7 that, the previous day, Robert H. Harlin proposed that the already-prepared ordinance renaming Railroad Avenue “Pacific Way” be amended to read “Alaskan Way” instead:

Councilman Robert H. Harlin, who offered the motion for adoption of “Alaskan Way,” said he preferred it to “Alaska Way” because it “recognizes the human element, honoring the men and women who pioneered the territory.” Although a majority of the council had informally agreed to support the name “Pacific Way,” sentiment crystallized rapidly in favor of “Alaskan Way” after Harlin’s statement.

Alaskan Way, March 2021
Alaskan Way from the Pike Place Market’s MarketFront, March 2021. Construction of the street that supposedly will not be called Elliott Way is visible at center right. The Seattle Great Wheel can be seen above the Seattle Aquarium. Photograph by Flickr user Scott Smithson, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Today, Alaskan Way S begins at the north end of E Marginal Way S, at the entrance to the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 30, and goes 2⅓ miles north, then northwest, to Broad Street, having become Alaskan Way on crossing Yesler Way. This is the Alaskan Way most people think of.

But, as they say, wait — there’s more! The right-of-way continues for another 1¾ miles, ending at W Garfield Street under the Magnolia Bridge, at the entrance to the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 91. From the Olympic Sculpture Park, which begins at Broad Street, to Myrtle Edwards Park, the right-of-way is taken up by park land and the tracks of the BNSF Railway — successor to the Columbia & Puget Sound; the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern; and the Northern Pacific, the railroads for which Railroad Avenue was originally built. Northwest of Myrtle Edwards, it’s entirely taken up by the tracks that run alongside Centennial Park. It isn’t until W Galer Street that there’s a city street in the right-of-way again, and Alaskan Way W only goes about ⅙ of a mile northwest from there to W Garfield Street. Even less than that is signed Alaskan Way, as the city has put up a sign for Expedia Group Way W where the W Galer Street flyover “touches down.” However, even though southeast of Galer the roadway runs first on Expedia property, then Port of Seattle property, the city appears to still consider it Alaskan Way W between the Expedia campus entrance and the north end of Centennial Park — a distance of just over ⅓ of a mile.

Queen Anne Boulevard

Like Queen Anne Avenue N, Queen Anne Boulevard is named for the neighborhood and hill, themselves named for the Queen Anne architectural style popular with builders in the 1880s. Unlike the avenue, though, the boulevard is not one single street, but a scenic loop incorporating many streets (and hence has no directional designation, such as Queen Anne Boulevard W).

The legislation establishing Queen Anne Boulevard was passed in 1907, and construction took place from 1911 to 1916. The Seattle Department of Transportation has had jurisdiction over the streets since 1942; jurisdiction over the landscaping remains with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The loop is slightly over 3⅔ miles in length; the ordinance gives its route as follows (edited for style and current street names and directional designations, with notes added):

Extending from Prospect Street between Warren Avenue N and 2nd Avenue N, in a northeasterly direction*, to an intersection with Galer Street near Bigelow Avenue N; thence northerly following the general direction of Bigelow Avenue N as nearly as the contours of the ground will permit, to Wheeler Street; thence westerly to Nob Hill Avenue N; thence southerly to McGraw Street; thence westerly to 2nd Avenue N; thence northwesterly to Smith Street, west of Warren Avenue N; thence westerly along Smith Street to a point east of 1st Avenue W; thence southerly to W McGraw Street and 2nd Avenue West; thence westerly to 3rd Avenue W; thence northwesterly to 5th Avenue W and W Smith Street§; thence northerly to W Raye Street; thence westerly to 8th Avenue W; thence northerly to W Armour Street; thence northwesterly to W Fulton Street; thence westerly to 9th Avenue W; thence southwesterly to 10th Avenue W and W Armour Street; thence southerly to W Wheeler Street; thence easterly to 8th Avenue W; thence southerly to W McGraw Street; thence easterly to 7th Avenue W; thence southerly to W Blaine Street; thence westerly to 8th Avenue W; thence southerly to W Lee Street; thence southeasterly to W Highland Drive and 7th Avenue West.

* Now the southern extension of Bigelow Avenue N.
Now McGraw Place.
Now the east half of W McGraw Place.
§ Now the west half of W McGraw Place.
Now 8th Place W.

Notably, there is a gap in the loop; Highland Drive between 7th Avenue W and Warren Avenue N could have made it closed, but this was not done.

As noted in Bigelow Avenue Nneighbors’ yards often encroach on the public right-of-way, leading, among other things, to confrontations over chestnuts…

Queen Anne Boulevard street sign, corner of 5th Avenue W, W Smith Street, and W McGraw Place, September 2015
Street sign, corner of 5th Avenue W, W Smith Street, and W McGraw Place, September 2015. The signs for 5th and McGraw are brown because of Queen Anne Boulevard’s status as a parks boulevard; note also the distinctive Queen Anne Boulevard sign beneath that for McGraw. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
Queen Anne Boulevard Seattle Historic Landmark Parks Department sign, 1st Avenue W and W Smith Street, July 2015
“Queen Anne Boulevard, Seattle Historic Landmark” Parks Department sign, 1st Avenue W and W Smith Street, July 2015. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 178301
Queen Anne Boulevard at night: 8th Place W just north of Marshall Park, July 2015
Queen Anne Boulevard at night: 8th Place W just north of Marshall Park, July 2015. Note the Wilcox Wall supporting the light fixtures. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, Identifier 178303

Queen Anne Avenue N

Originally Temperance Street and Villard Avenue, Queen Anne Avenue N was given its current name in 1895 as part of the Great Renaming. It was named after Queen Anne Hill and the Queen Anne neighborhood. Originally called Eden Hill or Galer Hill, they were themselves renamed after the Queen Anne architectural style that became popular in the 1880s.

Looking up the Counterbalance (Queen Anne Avenue N), 1910
Looking north up the Counterbalance (Queen Anne Avenue N), 1910
Looking south down Queen Anne Avenue N, April 2012
Looking south down Queen Anne Avenue N, April 2012. Photograph by Flickr user Joe Wolf, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Queen Anne Avenue begins at Western Avenue, less than 100 feet south of Denny Way, and becomes Queen Anne Avenue N as it crosses Denny. From there it goes 2⅕ miles north to Bertona Street and the Ship Canal Trail.

Surber Drive NE

This street is named after William Harvey “Uncle Joe” Surber (1834–1923), who came to Seattle from Indiana in 1859, having spent time in Missouri, California, and British Columbia along the way. Valarie Bunn tells his story in “From Yesler to Wedgwood,” and his Find a Grave page reproduces his biography from Clarence Bagley’s History of Seattle from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. In 1861, he established a homestead in what is now Laurelhurst, on what was then the east shore of Union Bay but is now Yesler Swamp. He was appointed the first sheriff of King County in 1866.

Originally 39th Avenue NE in the plat of Belvoir, an Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by his executor in 1926, it and E 37th Street became Surber Drive in 1939. Today, Surber Drive NE begins at NE 41st Street and goes around 700 feet to NE 38th Street, where it becomes NE Surber Drive and goes nearly 1,000 feet to 42nd Avenue NE.

Clise Place W

This street is named for James William Clise (1855–1939), who is said to have come to Seattle with his wife, Anna Herr Clise (1866–1936), on June 7, 1889, the day after the Great Seattle Fire. Anna is best known for founding Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (today known as Seattle Children’s) in 1907. In 1890, James founded what is now Clise Properties. Over the years he, among other things:

  • Helped the University of Washington relocate from Downtown to its current campus
  • Helped establish Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) in Magnolia
  • Helped Lyman Smith build the Smith Tower
  • Helped kickstart the agricultural industry in Eastern Washington
  • Founded the Washington Trust Company, which after a series of mergers is now part of Bank of America
  • Helped organize the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition 
  • Helped fund the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Ballard Locks

Clise Place W originates in the 1928 plat of Magnolia View Addition to the City of Seattle, filed by the Clise Investment Company. It originally only went from W Howe Street at Magnolia Boulevard W to W Crockett Street, but now continues on to W Lynn Street and 33rd Avenue W, giving it a total length of just under ¼ mile.

JW Clise
J.W. Clise, from The Ranch and Range, June 26, 1902 issue

Bigelow Avenue N

This street was named for developer Isaac Newton Bigelow (1838–1922). The Queen Anne Historic Context Statement, as we quoted in Newton Street, says:

In the early 1870s, the Denny and Mercer families gradually began to systematically subdivide their large land holdings on the south and east slopes of Queen Anne Hill. When a severe windstorm blew down thousands of trees in the north district in 1875, views opened up and land seekers turned their attentions beyond Belltown. Real estate speculators new to the territory arrived and began to buy up property on the crest of Queen Anne Hill. Some of these speculators also became developers, such as George Kinnear, or builder-developers, such as Isaac Bigelow.

Bigelow Avenue N forms a major part of Queen Anne Boulevard, the scenic loop atop Queen Anne Hill. It begins at 2nd Avenue N and Prospect Street and goes 9⁄10 of a mile to Wheeler Street between 4th Avenue N and 5th Avenue N.

Part of the street is lined with chestnut trees — not horse chestnuts, but the edible variety, specifically the Chinese chestnut, Castanea mollissima, according to the city’s records. My family (my mother was Korean) never foraged here, though we have done so elsewhere in the area, both for chestnuts and fiddlehead ferns. But plenty of others have, and continue to do so, as these articles show:

It should be noted that since Bigelow Avenue N is part of Queen Anne Boulevard, the trees belong to the parks department, not to the neighbors. As with similar park boulevards in town, neighbors’ yards often encroach on the public right-of-way.

Street sign at corner of Comstock Street and Bigelow Avenue N, February 2010
Street sign at corner of Comstock Place and Bigelow Avenue N, February 2010. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Beginning of Bigelow Avenue N (Queen Anne Boulevard) at 2nd Avenue N and Prospect Street, October 2015. Photograph by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Alonzo Avenue NW

This street was named for Alonzo Hamblet (1863–1937), son of Eli (1820–1905) and Mary Booth Hamblet (1840–1905), namesake of Mary Avenue NW. According to an article in the November 19, 1937 issue of The Seattle Times, the Hamblets had their homestead where Ballard High School is today. Alonzo was one of the men behind the West Coast Improvement Company that developed Ballard (then known as Gilman Park).

Alonzo Avenue NW begins at NW 67th Street just north of the high school and goes ⅖ of a mile to NW 75th Street.

Street sign at NW 67th Street and Alonzo Avenue NW, Seattle, October 12, 2021
Street sign at NW 67th Street and Alonzo Avenue NW, Seattle. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 12, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Mary Avenue NW

This street was named for Mary Booth Hamblet (1840–1905), wife of Eli (1820–1905) and mother of Alonzo (1863–1937), namesake of Alonzo Avenue NW. The Hamblets were early Ballard settlers, and according to an article in the November 19, 1937 issue of The Seattle Times had their homestead where Ballard High School is today.

Street sign at NW 67th Street and Mary Avenue NW, Seattle, October 12, 2021
Street sign at NW 67th Street and Mary Avenue NW, Seattle. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 12, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

Mary Avenue NW begins at NW 67th Street just north of the high school and goes nearly 2 miles to the NW 105th Street right-of-way, where it becomes a trail leading to Carkeek Park. As I wrote in NW Blue Ridge Drive,

Ten or so years ago I saw a Private Property sign at the trailhead, put up by the Blue Ridge Club, but it was gone the next time I visited — I can’t remember if I complained or someone else did. (The woods are private, but the trail is Mary Avenue NW right-of-way.) This wasn’t in the original plat, but according to an old Flickr chat I had with Andreas “Severinus” Breuer, “there was apparently a WPA project approved to install a 30′-wide gravel road between 100th and 110th (apparently now NW Carkeek Park Road).… I imagine the ravine would look quite different if a 30′ gravel road had been put in, so presumably this plan wasn’t carried out. But a 1940 engineering map shows a surveyed ROW from 105th to the Carkeek border, and in Carkeek there seems to be a route that follows the WPA route (Clay Pit Trail > Hillside Trail > Brick Road Trail > Road). Perhaps the trail that exists today was made by the original surveyors or by WPA men?”

W Blewett Way

This street is named for Edward Blewett (1848–1929), one of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood (named after his hometown, Fremont, Nebraska).

“But,” you might say, “if he developed Fremont, why is W Blewett Way in Queen Anne?”

As you can see in the map below, and in this plat he filed in 1888 of what is now Fremont and North Queen Anne before the Fremont Cut was dug, Ewing and Blewett Streets used to be part of both neighborhods. When they became separated, the names were left alone on the Queen Anne side; in Fremont, they were changed as follows: Kilbourne to N 36th Street, Blewett to N 35th Street, and Ewing to N 34th Street.

Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas Showing Fremont Cut
Portion of 1912 Baist Atlas showing Fremont Cut

It’s not quite that simple, though — Blewett never reached quite as far as 13th Avenue W. What appears to have happened is that a name was needed when what is now W Blewett Way was created in 1907, and because the street to the south was still Ewing, Blewett presented itself as a natural choice. The rest of Blewett south of the canal was vacated over the years, so this is all that’s left of the name.

Today, W Blewett Way begins at the north end of 13th Avenue W and goes east just about ⅒ of a mile before it becomes a private driveway.

Van Buren Avenue W

This street first appears in the 1875 plat of the Northern Addition to Seattle, W.T., filed by James Marston McNaught (1842–1919) and his wife, Agnes Martha Hyde McNaught (1856–1918). James was “a wealthy lawyer working in the railroad industry.” I assume it was named for Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, and not for his namesake, Martin Van Buren Stacy, a Seattle real estate developer, though I wouldn’t be surprised if McNaught and Stacy knew each other, as their dwellings, in addition to that of Henry Yesler, were considered “the three most lavish mansions in the city.”

I wasn’t sure whether to label Van Buren Avenue a “paper street” or not. Unlike W Semple Street and Albert Place W, part of the right-of-way has actually been improved (see below). However, like those two streets, it is not signed; and unlike Semple, there are no buildings with Van Buren Avenue addresses. (There are two houses on the street, but one has a W Prospect Street address; the other, an Elliott Avenue W address.)

The right-of-way stretches from just southeast of W Prospect Street, northeast of Elliott Avenue W, to where the Magnolia Bridge onramp turns west at W Garfield Street. The first 350 or so feet are drivable. There is also a foot trail through the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt in the right-of-way, beginning at the east end of W Lee Street and heading southeast. Lastly, just under 600 feet of the Magnolia Bridge onramp is located in the right-of-way. It could conceivably be signed Van Buren Avenue W instead of W Galer Street Flyover, but this is not the case.

Albert Place W

Our first paper street, W Semple Street, was in Magnolia, and so is our second!

In 1907, Anna Sophia Brygger (1852–1940) (NW Brygger Place, Brygger Drive W) filed the plat of Lawton Heights in Magnolia. Because a good portion of it was taken up by what is now known as Kiwanis Ravine, many of the streets were only partially built (Fort Place, 35th Avenue W, 34th Avenue W, Brygger Drive) or never built at all (Northview Place, Albert Street [Alberta is a typo], Byers Place). For some reason, they have never been vacated, making them all paper streets, and unlike W Semple Street, they don’t even have any buildings with addresses.

Brygger had seven children, one of whom was named Albert (1887–1977). According to Paul Dorpat, he was at one point president of Peoples National Bank (now part of U.S. Bank). It seems a fair bet that she named Albert Street after him.

Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas
Map of Lawton Heights Addition, Magnolia, 1912 Baist Atlas

Fremont Avenue N

This street is named for Fremont, Nebraska, hometown of two of the developers of the Fremont neighborhood: Edward Blewett (1848–1929) and Luther Henry Griffith (1861–1925). The city itself was named after John Charles Frémont (1813–1890).

Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006
Fremont Bridge in open position, April 2006. Opened in 1917, it has a clearance of only 30 feet over the Fremont Cut, which has caused it to become the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country. Photograph by Flickr user Mahalie Stackpole, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Fremont Avenue N begins at the north end of the Fremont Bridge (making it a continuation, in a sense, of both Dexter Avenue N and Westlake Avenue N) and goes 1⅙ miles north to N 50th Street and Woodland Park Zoo. It resumes north of the zoo at N 59th Street and goes 3½ miles to N 130th Street and Bitter Lake Playfield, a short portion of the block between N 61st Street and N 62nd Street being stairway. North of the lake, there are two short stretches: one going a couple blocks south from N 143rd Street, adjoining the Bitter Lake Reservoir, and another going a block south from the city limits at N 145th Street.

As with many North Seattle avenues, the Fremont name continues on into Shoreline. Its northernmost appearance is at the King–Snohomish county line at N 205th Street.

Thackeray Place NE

This street appears to be named for the British writer William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863), best known for his 1848 novel Vanity Fair. As local historian Rob Ketcherside explains in his blog post on “Renaming streets of Seattle’s Fremont to the U District”:

42nd St, 50th St, 1st Ave, and 5th Ave are the boundaries of the 1889 Harrison Heights Addition to the City of Seattle (annexed in 1891). J.A. Gould and Anna L. Gould, the owners, had the civil engineers draw a simple box around their property and didn’t bother to make their streets match those adjacent. But when the streets were renamed and woven together in the 1890s, 1st and 2nd Avenues bent west at 42nd while Latona, 4th and 5th bent east. Space for an extra road was left in between: Thackeray Place.

Their Dickens Street became 1st Avenue NE; Scott Street, 2nd Avenue NE; Cooper Street, Latona Avenue NE; Milton Street, 4th Avenue NE; and Kingsley Street, 5th Avenue NE. Thackery Street, as it was originally named, had no corresponding street in the already existing grid. (Why it was left alone instead of being renamed something like 2nd Place NE is unclear.) As Rob points out, these names are almost certainly those of the writers Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, John Milton, Charles Kingsley… and William Makepeace Thackeray.

(J.A. (Joel Abdon) Gould, incidentally, appears to have been the founder of the first bank in San Juan County, the aptly named San Juan County Bank in Friday Harbor. His wife’s full name was Anna Lucretia Cary Gould; their son, Eugene Cary Gould Sr., succeeded his father as bank president and was also the first mayor of Friday Harbor.)

Thackeray Place NE begins at NE 42nd Street and goes ½ a mile north to NE 50th Street.

Matthews Avenue NE

This street was named by and for John Gill Matthews (1864–1937), who, with his wife and son, filed the plat of J.G. Matthews’ Lake Washington Addition, Division One, in 1930. In an extensive article on her blog, Wedgwood in Seattle History, Valarie Bunn tells his story, from his origins in Barbourville, Kentucky, during the Civil War, to his death in 1937, and beyond. For some reason, he, his wife, and three children moved to Seattle in 1910, when he was 45 and already had a well-established legal career in Kentucky. Once in Seattle, he became involved in coal, timber, and automobiles in addition to the law. It appears he and his wife separated around 1924, though they never divorced.

Fortunately for the citizens of Seattle, the Matthews family held onto the portion of their land on Lake Washington, and never developed it either before or after John Matthews’s death. Amy Matthews, who inherited the property, died in 1950, and the city was able to purchase the land for $70,000 the next year to create Matthews Beach Park, the city’s largest bathing beach. As Valarie explains:

The Matthews family was so willing to share the use of their property with neighbors that the area first began to be known as Matthews Beach in the 1920s while still under private ownership. The first appeal to the City of Seattle to buy the property was in 1928. Ironically the Parks Department vigorously opposed the purchase due to differences of opinion between those who wanted to acquire more parks in Seattle, and those who wanted monies to be allocated to maintenance of already-existing parks. Since the City of Seattle was not able to go ahead with purchase of the Matthews Beach property in 1928, the Matthews family could easily have redeveloped or sold the site at any time. It is a tribute to their stewardship and the efforts of north Seattle community clubs and activists that finally in 1951, the City purchased Matthews Beach.

John G. Matthews, from his obituary in the the November 16, 1937, issue of The Seattle Times
John G. Matthews, from his obituary in the the November 16, 1937, issue of The Seattle Times

Matthews Avenue NE begins and ends at Sand Point Way NE, going about ¼ mile in a semicircle from just south of Matthews Place NE to just north of NE 93rd Street.

S Stacy Street

This street is named for Martin Van Buren Stacy (1837–1901), who, according to local historian Paul Dorpat, “brought an inherited wealth to the cash-poor West and bought Seattle land” (and land elsewhere in Western Washington as well). The Northern Pacific Railway’s Stacy Street Yard was named for the street, but was renamed the Seattle International Gateway by Burlington Northern in 1985. His death at Green River Hot Springs apparently came as a shock to many.

Martin Van Buren Stacy, from his obituary in the April 18, 1901 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Martin Van Buren Stacy, from his obituary in the April 18, 1901, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He had died at Green River Hot Springs the previous week of “apoplexy.”

S Stacy Street begins at Airport Way S and goes ⅕ of a mile west to 6th Avenue S. There is a block-long segment between 4th Avenue S and 3rd Avenue S, and then on the other side of the former Stacy Yard a two-block–long segment from Occidental Avenue S to Utah Avenue S and the world headquarters of Starbucks.

Cleopatra Place NW

This street is named for Cleopatra Lorena Johnson Porter (1888–1961). As FamilySearch tells us, her parents were Archie James Johnson and Sarah Melinda Young. Valarie Bunn, on her blog Wedgwood in Seattle History, explains how she found out the street was named for the Johnsons’ daughter rather than the queen of Egypt:

Plats named Cleopatra Park, 1st and 2nd Additions, were filed in 1905 and 1907 before Ballard was officially annexed to Seattle in May 1907 and before Ballard’s street names were revised to be consistent with the Seattle street system.… The owners of the Cleopatra Park Addition were Archie J. Johnson and his wife Linnie Johnson. We see that even though the property was in Ballard in Seattle, their plat filing document was notarized in Corvallis, Oregon.… Looking on the census of 1910 for this couple, we see the Johnsons recorded as living in Corvallis where Archie was the president of the Benton County State Bank. The census shows that Archie and Linnie Johnson had six children, all of whom were born in Oregon except their first child, daughter Cleopatra, who was born in Seattle in 1888.

Coming across Wedgwood in Seattle History and this post in particular, which also delves into the origins of Aloha Street and provides numerous resources for those who are interested in making their own discoveries, was one of the things that finally prodded me to get Writes of Way off the ground. Thank you, Valarie!

Street sign at NW 65th Street and Cleopatra Place NW, Seattle, October 12, 2021.
Street sign at NW 65th Street and Cleopatra Place NW, Seattle. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff, October 12, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

S Graham Street

This street was named for Walter Graham (1828–1919), who came to Seattle in 1853. Three years later, he married Eliza Mercer, second daughter of Thomas Mercer (Mercer Street, Mercer Island), though she unfortunately died six years later. With his third wife, Elizabeth Crammond (or Crommon), he had a daughter, Nellie, who later married David Thomas Denny II, son of early settler David Thomas Denny (Denny Way). Graham’s brother, David, came to Seattle four years after his brother, and was one of the city’s first schoolteachers. He ended up marrying Eliza Mercer’s sister, Susannah.

Graham sold some of his southeast Seattle land in 1865 to Everett Smith, who filed the plat of Brighton Beach in 1890 on which what was then Graham Avenue appeared. He once owned what is today Seward Park on Bailey Peninsula, which was previously known as Graham’s Peninsula.

He was present at the Battle of Seattle in 1856, and is pictured below with fellow survivors Ira Woodin and Carson D. Boren (Boren Avenue).

Ira Woodin, Carson Boren, and Walter Graham, November 3, 1905
Ira Woodin, Carson Boren, and Walter Graham at Alki Point, November 3, 1905

S Graham Street begins in the east at Wilson Avenue S and goes 2⅒ miles west to Swift Avenue S and 20th Avenue S, just east of Interstate 5. After a short segment between Corgiat Drive S and 16th Avenue S just west of the freeway, it next appears in West Seattle. Betwen 16th Avenue SW and 22nd Avenue SW, it alternates between roadway, stairway, and pathway, and there is a similar situation between 25th Avenue SW at Delridge Way SW and High Point Drive SW at Bataan Park. SW Graham Street begins again at High Point Drive SW and SW Raymond Street and goes 1¼ miles to its end at 50th Avenue SW,