Benjamin Lukoff
Latest posts by Benjamin Lukoff (see all)

An article in the July 8, 1928, issue of The Seattle Times describes the new subdivision of Hawthorne Hills thus:

The property is situated on a “hogback” between East 55th and East 65th Streets just east of 35th Avenue Northeast.… It is the largest single piece of undeveloped residence property in the city limits.… Because of its proximity to the University of Washington a community center at the highest point on the property has been designated “University Circle.” At this point, 200 feet in diameter, the principal thoroughfares, named after well-known universities and colleges, converge.

University Circle park is ringed by 400-foot-long University Circle NE, which is approximately 125, not 200, feet in diameter. Vassar Avenue NE, Ann Arbor Avenue NE, and Princeton Avenue NE converge on the circle, while Wellesley Way NE, Stanford Avenue NE, Purdue Avenue NE, Pullman Avenue NE, NE Tulane Place, and Oberlin Avenue NE curve through the rest of the neighborhood. (There does not appear to be any organizing concept behind the selection of schools other than the fact they are institutions of higher education. Pullman and Ann Arbor represent state schools; Princeton, Stanford, Purdue, and Tulane private schools; and Vassar and Wellesley women’s colleges; but why these in particular were chosen, I am not sure. Incidentally, Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Columbia, and Amherst were already in use elsewhere.)

Hawthorne Hills sign, detail of photograph of Princeton Avenue Bridge, January 28, 2003.
Hawthorne Hills sign, January 28, 2003. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, identifier 141197

Unfortunately, Hawthorne Hills — named for Hawthorne Kingsbury Dent, founder of what is today Safeco Insurance — was among the subdivisions in Seattle to which the developers attached racially restrictive covenants. In fact, according to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, “Seattle’s first known racial restrictive covenant was written in 1924 by the Goodwin Company,” which also developed Hawthorne Hills, and

No property in this subdivision could be “sold, conveyed, rented, nor leased, in whole or in part, to any person not of the White race; nor shall any person not of the White race be permitted to occupy any portion of said lot or lots or of any building thereon, except a domestic servant actually employed by a White occupant of such building.”

Two good articles on Hawthorne Hills are “Names in the Neighborhood: From Keith to Hawthorne Hills,” by Valarie Bunn, and “Squatting in Hawthorne Hills,” by Zach van Schouwen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.