Names in the Neighborhood: Chelsea

NE 110th Street in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of northeast Seattle is today dominated by two large school buildings:  Nathan Hale High School on the south side of NE 110th Street and Jane Addams Middle School on the north side.

Hidden in the history of today’s “school street” is the story of a highway of a century ago, and a neighborhood name, Chelsea.  Chelsea referred to NE 110th Street before the present schools were built, Jane Addams Middle School (built 1949) and Nathan Hale High School (built 1963 on the former Meadowbrook Golf Course and Fischer Farm property).

Pictured below is Jane Addams Middle School, looking south with NE 110th Street at the top of the photo.  On the far left of the photo is 35th Ave NE.  Before the school was built, the housing developments we see here were referred to as Chelsea.

Looking southward, we see Jane Addams Middle School circa 1960. NE 110th Street is at the top of the photo showing the golf course property on the south side of NE 110th. The golf course later became the site of Nathan Hale High School.

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A Civil War Veteran in Seattle: Edward Lind

Civil War monument at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Seattle.

The Civil War of the United States was fought from 1861 to 1865 and yet, 160 years later, we are still fighting issues of the unity and principles of what it means to be an American.  Throughout their lifetimes, veterans of the Civil War were instrumental in their promotion of national unity, always active in commemorations such as Memorial Day.

Washington Territory did not send troops to the Civil War but afterward, over many years’ time, Civil War veterans migrated out to Seattle.  They were active in public life in Seattle, always patriotic and contributing to their community.  Today, the project of Seattle’s Civil War Legacy is to highlight the lives of these veterans and their sacrificial service.

This blog post will outline the life of Edward Lind, a Norwegian immigrant who fought in the Civil War, became part of western migration and came to the City of Seattle.  He is buried in Seattle’s Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery dedicated to Civil War veterans.

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Writing the Ways of Seattle Streets

The Seattle street system provides endless opportunities for puzzling over the “whys” of street names, as it can be difficult to find out who a street is named for.  One north Seattle street is clear in its tribute to Roosevelt — but which Roosevelt???  There were two, Teddy and Franklin, who each served as president of the United States.

Teddy Roosevelt cartoon portraying him as an outdoorsman activist

A new blog by Benjamin Donguk Lukoff called Writes of Way explores the stories of Seattle street names.  Here is Mr. Lukoff’s story of Roosevelt Way NE:

“This street runs nearly six miles from the north end of the University Bridge (at Eastlake Avenue NE and NE Campus Parkway) to Aurora Avenue North, just shy of the Seattle city limits at North 145th Street.

Roosevelt Way runs north–south for most of its length, but starting at NE 125th Street, its last 1½ miles cut a northwest–southeast diagonal across the street grid, making it Roosevelt Way North once it crosses 1st Avenue NE between N 133rd and N 135th Streets.

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Sorting Out Seattle Street Names

In Seattle’s early years, 1851  to 1889, owners of property could lay out a plan for streets and give them any names they chose.  But as the city grew, segments of a street would often have several different names as the street passed through these individually-laid-out plats of property.

Seattle rebuilt its downtown area after the Great Fire of June 6, 1889.

The Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889 burned a large section of the downtown core but instead of destroying the city, the Fire led to a rebirth of Seattle with explosive population growth.   The population jumped tenfold to about 43,000 people in Seattle as of 1890, and doubled again by the year 1900 to more than 80,000 people.  (Source:  Seattle Municipal Archives Quick Information population statistics).

Within three years of the Fire, four hundred new subdivisions were filed with King County, mainly in or near the Seattle City Limits.  Each subdivision had a layout of streets with lots for houses or commercial buildings, and property owners continued to give the streets in their plats, any name that they chose.  This resulted in a tangle of street names which were often repeated in different areas of the city.  Finally in 1895 City Engineer R.H. Thomson began renaming Seattle streets via City ordinances.  The street-renaming project also decreed that streets would be east-west and those that were north-south would be called avenues.

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South of the Bridge in Fremont

From the earliest years of white settlers’ arrival in Seattle in the 1850s, land speculators and businessmen were attracted to what is now the Fremont neighborhood at the northwest corner of Lake Union.  A big advantage of the site was a stream which early settlers called The Outlet, flowing westward toward Puget Sound.  Men such as homestead claimant William Strickler hoped to use water-power to float logs on the stream, out to the Sound and toward Yesler’s Mill on the downtown Seattle waterfront.

The Fremont neighborhood in Seattle is located at the northwest corner of Lake Union. Map courtesy of HistoryLink.

Thomas Mercer suggested the name “Lake Union” at the Seattle settlers’ Fourth of July picnic on the southern shore of the lake in 1854, at where Lake Union Park is now.  The “union” name was proposed because Seattle’s ambitious settlers saw that it would be possible to unite three bodies of water via a canal system.

A canal could connect from Lake Washington (on Seattle’s eastern border) through Lake Union and on westward to Puget Sound.  For this reason The Outlet at Lake Union’s northwest corner was already identified at this early date as part of the ideal route of the envisioned ship canal.

Little did Seattle’s settlers know that the ship canal idea would not come to fruition for more than sixty years, completed in 1917.  In the meantime, in 1887 businessman Thomas Burke and his associate Daniel Gilman set up a railroad which travelled east-west across Seattle’s midpoint.  That route is today the Burke-Gilman Trail which is on the north side of the ship canal and passes through Fremont.

In 1894 Ross and Fremont were shown as place names with railroad stops. The ship canal had not yet been built but there was a creek called The Outlet from Lake Union, flowing westward.  Dots on the map represent population.

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Art on 34th in the Fremont Neighborhood of Seattle

The highly walkable Fremont neighborhood of Seattle has many artworks in easily observable outdoor settings.

Some of the best-known artworks are the statue of Lenin located just west of Fremont Avenue, and the Fremont Troll on North 36th Street underneath the Aurora Bridge.

The Fremont Troll is such a popular attraction that the City of Seattle re-named the segment of street under the bridge “Troll Avenue” to make it easier to find.

Walking along North 34th Street which parallels the ship canal, we can see three-dimensional art pieces, sculpture, mosaics, planters and landscaping which tell the stories of history and events in Seattle.

This article will highlight only the artworks along North 34th Street from the intersection of Fremont Avenue, eastward two blocks to the corner of 34th & Stone Way.

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Street Clocks in Seattle

Benton’s Jewelers street clock was located at 3216 NE 45th Street just east of the Union Bay Place intersection.

In May 2020 a street clock called Benton’s Jewelers was removed from its location, packed and sent for restoration.

The clock at 3216 NE 45th Street was located east of the University Village shopping center and east of the five-way Union Bay Place NE intersection.  The clock had originally been on the sidewalk in front of Benton’s Jewelers on University Way NE, and moved with the company to the Union Bay Place location in 1986.  This was the only remaining street clock originally associated with a jewelry store in northeast Seattle.

In May 2020 the Benton’s Jewelers street clock was removed by a professional clock restoration service.  The clock-servicing company will give the Benton’s Jewelers clock a needed rehabilitation and will bring the clock back into to working order again.

Benton’s Jewelers street clock. The buildings in the background are gone now.

The Benton’s Jewelers clock was removed for safety reasons because the clock is now in a construction zone.  The new owners of the clock received approval from the Seattle Landmarks Board to store the clock and bring it back to its location when construction of a new building on the site is completed.

The journey of the Benton’s Jewelers street clock represents the changes in the Seattle business environment over the past one hundred years.  In the 1920s street clocks were a signal of jewelry stores which also did watch repair, most prominently in downtown Seattle.

Business pressures as well as changes in the built environment caused Seattle street clocks to move from one location to another along with the owners, then fall into disuse when businesses closed.  Benton’s Jewelers closed in 2008, just short of the hundredth anniversary of the company.  The Benton family retained ownership of the clock until purchase of it by the company which is redeveloping the entire block just east of Union Bay Place NE.

In May 2020 the Benton’s Jewelers street clock was removed for restoration. Photo courtesy of the Laurelhurst Blog.

The Benton’s Jewelers street clock is in a block of now-demolished small buildings, including a beloved Baskin-Robbins ice cream store at the point of the triangular-shaped block at the intersection of Union Bay Place NE.  The new owner of the block will build a type of business new to the neighborhood, a large senior-care residence.

Since Seattle street clocks are protected under a historic landmarking ordinance, the owner applied to the Seattle Landmarks Board for approval to remove, restore, and re-set the Benton’s Jewelers clock in place when the new building is finished in the year 2022.

Part of the historic landmarking ordinance for Seattle’s street clocks is the requirement that clocks be placed in public view.  At the new senior residence at Union Bay Place NE, there are plans to set the street clock in the outdoor courtyard entryway of the building.

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Seattle Street Names North of Lake Union

Seattle historian Rob Ketcherside has previously cataloged the street names which were reorganized in a major City ordinance in the year 1895.  That was when the decision was made to have Seattle’s streets keep one name along their entire length, instead of each segment having a name chosen by that area’s land developer.  This first street name table organized by Rob, is included in my article about how Seattle’s streets were named.

Now Rob Ketcherside has added info about street names in Seattle north of Lake Union, including Fremont, Wallingford, Latona, and the University District (originally called Brooklyn).  Here’s the street names of the nearby Green Lake neighborhood.

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Fremont in Seattle: Street Names and Neighborhood Boundaries

The view from the Fremont Bridge

Fremont in Seattle began as a planned community after investors purchased the land and filed a plat map in May 1888.  A “plat” is any defined area of land for which a plan of lots and streets is laid out.

The investors, who were from Fremont, Nebraska, thought that Fremont would be a good name for this suburb, outside the city limits of Seattle at that time.

Before Fremont received its name in 1888, in the 1850s it had been the homestead claim land of William A. Strickler.  Strickler was a single man, age 30, who was from Virginia and who arrived in Seattle in 1853.

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The Fremont Neighborhood in Seattle: Why the Name?

Each neighborhood of Seattle proudly waves the banner of its unique name, and yet many were named in a similar way:  by real estate investors.   Fremont in Seattle was also named by real estate investors.  What made the Seattle neighborhood called Fremont stand out from others, was its good location, its jump-start after Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889, and its vigorous developers who utilized the growing streetcar system to advantage.

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Redefining the Boundaries of Wedgwood in the 1950s

In the 1940s and 1950s the neighborhoods of northeast Seattle grew rapidly, with housing developments filling up what had been semi-rural areas which were still outside the city limits.  Some people resisted the process of being absorbed into the City of Seattle, but eventually annexation placed the north city limits where it is today, at 145th Street from Puget Sound all the way over to Lake Washington.

Houses on NE 84th Street in 1953, photo by Werner Lenggenhager. An amateur photographer, Leggenhager left much of his collection to the Seattle Public Library. He spoke approvingly of the Balch houses which were modest in scale and harmonious in style.

Houses on NE 84th Street in 1953, photo by Werner Lenggenhager. An amateur photographer, Lenggenhager left much of his collection to the Seattle Public Library. He spoke approvingly of Balch’s Wedgwood development with houses which were modest in scale and harmonious in style, and with the preservation of tall trees.

Wedgwood” was first used in 1941 by Albert Balch as a plat name for a housing development from NE 80th to 85th Streets, 30th to 35th Avenues NE.  This forty-acre tract of houses in similar scale and harmonious styles (with New England-style Cape Cod detailing) was a huge success.  After the end of World War Two in 1945, many war veterans got married and were able to buy a Wedgwood house with a GI loan, the government assistance program for veterans.

After the war, young couples flocked to the Wedgwood development to establish homes and start new lives, hoping to leave behind the hardships and deprivations of the war years.  Into the 1950s Balch acquired more tracts of land near the first Wedgwood plat, and he did more well-planned, attractive streets and groups of houses on both sides of 35th Ave NE.  The neighborhood was gradually “becoming Wedgwood” by taking its identity from the orderly and charming Balch housing developments.

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Neighborhoods of Seattle: comparing the origins of Fremont and Wedgwood

How does the history and development of Wedgwood compare to that of other neighborhoods in Seattle?

B-G Trail along N 34th Street in Fremont.Autumn 2017

The Burke-Gilman Trail is the line of a former railroad and is parallel to the ship canal in Fremont.

Fremont was the site of some of the earliest land claims in Seattle in the 1850s, but it was not populated until developers bought the land in 1888.  Fremont had this date as a definite start-point as a community with streets laid out.  Its early development was planned by its land investors.

Many aspects of Fremont today, such as its street system and its hub for transportation, can be attributed to the strong period of development in the 1880s.  Fremont’s early developers were also invested in the streetcar system and they brought this convenience to Fremont, as well.

Active Seattleite Henry Yesler was a member of the Lake Washington Improvement Company and in 1883 he bought some of William Strickler’s former homestead claim in Fremont for a place to create a canal at the northwest corner of Lake Union. That same year, Judge Thomas Burke bought some of the (future) Fremont land for the right-of-way of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad. The railroad route has come down to us today as the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Wedgwood Ale House at 8515 35th Ave NE

The Wedgwood Ale House at 8515 35th Ave NE is in Wedgwood’s earliest business block of the 1920s.

In contrast to Fremont, Wedgwood is a neighborhood which slept quietly until well after the year 1900, with no roads, railroads or other through-routes such as canals.  Property records show ownership of land in what is now Wedgwood, but with no one in residence except for a period of homestead claims in the 1870s.

The Wedgwood neighborhood really began to grow in 1923-1926 when water and electric utilities became available.  The biggest growth period in Wedgwood and the formation of the neighborhood identity finally came in 1945-1960 with the post-World-War-Two housing boom in north Seattle.

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The Great Backyard Bird Count 2021

Watching birds is a safe and enjoyable activity we can do even during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 12 to 15, 2021.

Black-capped chickadee in Redmond, WA, photo by Jacob McGinnis.

The GBBC is an opportunity to enjoy nature while contributing to the scientific tracking of birds and their environment.

For the GBBC you can watch birds anywhere, even by looking out your window.  Watch birds for at least fifteen minutes or more over the four days of the count, February 12 to 15, 2021.

Visit the website of the Great Backyard Bird Count 2021 to learn more about how to participate, how to get help with identification of birds, and how to submit your bird counts.

How is the information from the GBBC used?

Downy woodpeckers in winter, Washington State.

The information from GBBC participants, combined with other surveys, helps scientists track the patterns of movement of species, how a species’ range may be expanding or shrinking, and learn how birds are affected by environmental changes.

Why is the count in February?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is held in the USA and Canada each February to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migrations begin in March.  Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Birds Canada and others will combine the GBBC information with data from surveys conducted at different times of the year.

Watching birds is an activity you can do from your window.

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Candy Cane Lane in December 2020

Candy Cane Lane is a holiday tradition in northeast Seattle, a celebration of lights, decorations and color.  Candy Cane Lane is a cluster of houses on Park Road NE just off of Ravenna Blvd NE, where residents coordinate this event every December.

Candy Cane Lane

The event begins on Saturday night, December 5, 2020 at 4 PM and is open every night through January 1, 2021.  For more info check the Facebook page of Candy Cane Lane.

Drive-through is one-way, starting at the west entrance.  Pedestrians are welcome to follow the same one-way route as cars.  All Washington State Covid mandates are to be followed; masks and social distancing required.

At Candy Cane Lane, donations are being accepted to a food drive to University Food Bank and Warm Accessory Drive.  The donation bins are located towards the end of the street.

To find Candy Cane Lane:  From the intersection of 25th Ave NE & NE 55th Street, go west on NE 55th.  Keep to the right and follow the curve of the road around the edge of Ravenna Park.  Follow Ravenna Blvd one more block and turn right into Park Road NE which is the entrance to Candy Cane Lane.

Candy Cane Lane in northeast Seattle

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Autumn Season 2020 in Wedgwood

Autumn 2020 in Wedgwood in northeast Seattle is bright with colorful trees. The arterial 35th Ave NE is lined with flame ash trees from the center of the neighborhood at NE 85th Street, northward to where 35th Ave NE merges with Lake City Way NE at NE 137th Street.

Looking southward along 35th Ave NE, we see Fiddler’s Inn at the corner of NE 94th Street and the flame ash trees which line the arterial. At right is Wedgwood’s Fire Station 40. Photo by Valarie.
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