This street runs 1¼ mile from NE Pacific Street in the south to NE Ravenna Boulevard and Cowen Park in the north. Until 2001, it was a block longer, starting farther south at NE Boat Street, but that portion was vacated as part of the development of the University of Washington campus.
Originally Columbus Avenue and then 14th Avenue NE, it was renamed University Way in 1920 after the University of Washington, which had moved to the neighborhood from its original home downtown in 1895. As local historian Paul Dorpat explains in this HistoryLink essay,
[In 1919] the University Commercial Club… ran [a contest] to rename 14th Avenue…. Club member Arthur Quigley’s “University Way” won the street name contest easily. To deflect any charges that the contest was fixed, Quigley donated the prize money to charity.
Even though it’s been a “way” for 101 years now, to locals University Way has always been, and always will be, “The Ave.” And that in itself will always cause some confusion, as this street sign demonstrates.
Born and raised in Seattle, Benjamin Donguk Lukoff had his interest in local history kindled at the age of six, when his father bought him settler granddaughter Sophie Frye Bass’s Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the gift shop of the Museum of History and Industry. He studied English, Russian, and linguistics at the University of Washington, and went on to earn his master’s in English linguistics from University College London. His book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now, was published in 2010. An updated version came out in 2015.