When I (Valarie) was growing up and attending Wedgwood School in northeast Seattle, city and state history was part of the curriculum of fourth grade. That was when I first heard the amazing stories of “the pioneers,” Seattle’s first white settlers including the members of the extended Denny family.
The Dennys made an incredible journey of courage as they left their homes in 1851 and launched out into the unknown. They traveled across the USA in a wagon train to come to a place which had no name: what is now the city of Seattle.
One of my interests is in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. In exploring Fremont’s vibrant history, I learned the name of the original homestead claimant, William A. Strickler. He filed a land claim in 1854 for the area which is now the main business district of Fremont and the Fremont Bridge over the ship canal, which used to be only a small stream. I learned that Strickler disappeared in 1861 and no one ever found out what happened to him.
The Fremont neighborhood in Seattle is located at the northwest corner of Lake Union. Map courtesy of HistoryLink.
The history of the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle is unique in that the future-Fremont land was tied up in legal problems so that no one lived there until 1888. Then, with investors and promoters advertising the first one hundred lots to be sold for $1 each, in the summer of 1888 there was a land rush of businesses and residents to take advantage of the opportunity to settle in Fremont.
Fremont’s naming was unique in that it was named like a suburb, because it was still outside of the City of Seattle boundaries as of 1888. It wasn’t long, however, until Fremont’s vigorous community leaders applied to join the City of Seattle, which they did in 1891.
Before Fremont received its jump-start as a vital new neighborhood in 1888, Fremont’s land-claim history went back to the settlers who were Seattle’s eager land-seekers in the 1850s.
This blog started out in 2012 to be about the history of the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle. Over the years as I (Valarie) have participated in other neighborhood history projects, I began posting those writings here. Go to “Fremont” in the Categories tab on the right margin of this page to find all that I have written about the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle.
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Test your knowledge of Wedgwood neighborhood history with this quiz. Answers to the quiz follow Question #16.
Wedgwood Rock is located at 7200 28th Ave NE in Seattle.
1. In which neighborhood is Wedgwood Rock?
2. What does the “P” in P-Patch stand for?
Peat, for the peat bog at the current location of Dahl Playfield
Picardo, the name of the family that farmed the area
Pea, for the legume that grows there in abundance
It’s easy to have a nice day in the charming Wedgwood business district. Photo by Valarie.
Wedgwood was just beginning to take shape as a neighborhood during the 1940s. At the intersection of NE 85th Street on 35th Ave NE, there was only one building, Hansen’s Tavern, as of 1945.
In 1945 the tavern owner rebuilt the building to include storefronts, and he re-named his business the Wedgwood Tavern. The new stores adjacent to the tavern included McVicar Hardware, 8507 35th Ave NE.
As of 1945-1946 the tavern (today’s Wedgwood Ale House at 8515 35th Ave NE) was the first of the neighborhood businesses to name itself after the nearby Wedgwood housing development built by Albert Balch.
In the 1940s developer Albert Balch acquired ownership of the other three corners of the intersection at NE 85th Street, which he reserved for commercial buildings. The intersection grew with a variety of stores in response to the population growth of Wedgwood. Today the intersection of NE 85th Street on 35th Ave NE is the heart of Wedgwood’s business district.
Copyright notice: the text and photos of this article are protected under Creative Commons Copyright. Do not copy without permission.
Lake City in northeast Seattle, map courtesy of HistoryLink.
Lake City is the northeasternmost neighborhood of Seattle and did not come completely into the City of Seattle boundaries until 1954.
Though it was platted as a suburban area of single-family homes, Lake City also developed its own commercial district around the intersection of NE 125th Street, and Lake City had a strong community identity from early years. Today Lake City has an active neighborhood association and a busy business district.
The Shoreline Historical Museum, located at 18501 Linden Ave N., has a lot of information about north Seattle areas which were once outside the City of Seattle. Museum director Vicki Stiles has written this wonderful essay about how Lake City got its name, which I (Valarie) am re-posting here.
During World War Two from 1941 to 1945, Americans put their personal plans on hold so that they could serve in the military, work in war production industries or in support services. After the end of World War Two the focus of American life turned from supporting the war effort, to pursuing the dreams of home and family which had been deferred during the war. There was pent-up demand for houses and for consumer goods which had not been produced for civilian use during the war.
Young married couples loved the affordable homes built by Balch in the new Wedgwood development.
The Wedgwood neighborhood took on its identity in this period of rapid growth in the post-war years of the 1940s and 1950s, when large numbers of young couples got married and started new lives with their own homes.
As of the 1940s there was an incredible amount of vacant land still available in northeast Seattle which became areas of new housing. Developer Albert Balch’s first tract of Wedgwood houses (a plat name) on the west side of 35th Ave NE from NE 80th to 85th Streets, was so popular that local businesses wanted to identify with it, and so the Wedgwood development gradually gave its name to the new neighborhood.
Businesses were attracted to the growing Wedgwood neighborhood with its potential customers, the young couples in Balch houses. Businesses began to be established at the major commercial intersection of NE 85th Street and nearby blocks along 35th Ave NE.
Wedgwoodians want their commercial district to have a variety of locally-owned shops.
Sunday, August 26, 2018 will be a day of fun, 10 AM to 3 PM, at the Wedgwood Broiler, 8230 35th Ave NE, for the Eleventh Annual Wedgwood Car Show and Cancer Fundraiser.