W Laurelhurst Drive NE and E Laurelhurst Drive NE were originally Olympic View Drive and Cascade View Drive, respectively, in the 1906 plat of Laurelhurst, an Addition to the City of Seattle. I am unable to tell exactly when the change was made: I first find “Laurelhurst Drive” being referred to in The Seattle Times in 1920, though a Kroll map from the same year shows the streets as 45th Avenue NE and 47th Avenue NE, respectively.

Laurelhurst itself was annexed to Seattle in 1910 (which makes me wonder why the plat was labelled as an addition to the city four years earlier). “Laurel” must refer to the tree, and “hurst” is an archaic word meaning “wooded hill.” However, as the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange thread that gives that definition notes, “in street names, [hurst is] likely to be a modern invention,” being part of “a name made up from old roots to imbue a sense of history and rootedness” (or, in cases like these, Britishness and stateliness). (I had thought that “Laurel” might refer to a girl or woman [cf. Loyal Avenue NW], but neither of the developers — Joseph Rogers McLaughlin [1851–1923] and Robert F. Booth [1875–1918] — appear to have had a relative by that name.)

(As an aside, the Wikipedia article on the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, citing Eugene E. Snyder’s 1979 Portland Names and Neighborhoods, says that “the name Laurelhurst was borrowed from a residential development in Seattle that Laurelhurst Company general manager Paul Murphy had recently completed. The name combined a reference to the laurel shrubbery near the Seattle development with the Old English hurst, denoting a wooded hill.” However, I have my doubts that there were actually enough laurels nearby to warrant the naming [in contrast to Magnolia, which was {mis}named for the plentiful madronas that lined the bluff].)

W Laurelhurst Drive NE begins at 43rd Avenue NE just south of NE 38th Street and goes ½ a mile southeast to just east of Webster Point Road NE, where it becomes E Laurelhurst Dr NE. From there, it goes nearly ⅖ of a mile northeast to a dead end just past 47th Avenue NE.

Aerial view of Laurelhurst from the south, 1938
Aerial view of Laurelhurst from the south, 1938. Webster Point dominates the view; W Laurelhurst Drive NE becomes E Laurelhurst Drive NE in front of the house that prominently appears at the southern end of the point. Photograph from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History and Industry, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Map of Laurelhurst, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 21, 1906
Part of an advertisement for the new Laurelhurst subdivision, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 21, 1906. Laurelhurst is called “the most beautiful and high-class residence district in Seattle… that peninsula separating Lake Washington from Union Bay.” Prospective buyers were directed to take the Madison Street Cable Railway to its terminus at Madison Park, from which they could take a 5-minute ride on a steamer to Laurelhurst.

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