In December 2018 the Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle is bright with lights, holiday decorations, charitable giving and local shopping options. Wedgwood’s walkable business district features great gift ideas and opportunities to share holiday cheer through charitable donations.
After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered an increase in military preparedness in the USA. This directly affected the Seattle area due to its nearby military bases and production of war-related materials like airplanes. For these reasons, industries began to hire more workers and Seattle started to pull out of the long economic depression of the 1930s. Real estate developers also began to see a demand for more housing as the population of Seattle began to increase.
A “plat” means any area of land for which there is a map of streets with lots marked for houses or other buildings. One plat of houses in northeast Seattle which began to be built in 1939 was called Fir Crest, built by M.W. Mylroie. The name “Wedgwood” had not yet been invented for this area of northeast Seattle because developer Albert Balch had not yet begun his group of houses which eventually gave their name to the neighborhood.
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 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.
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
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 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.