Mylo Lindgren, Wedgwood Hero

The early years of the Wedgwood Community Club in the 1950s and 1960s were characterized by the dedicated involvement of young couples who had developed leadership skills through the World War Two years of the 1940s.   Mylo Lindgren was just such a community activist: he served in the war, married and then spent more than fifty years as a Wedgwood resident and community leader.

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Gas Stations and the Maturing of the Business District in Wedgwood

Billboard of April 1971 courtesy of the Seattle Times newspaper

A HistoryLink article by Greg Lange tells of the large-scale layoffs of employees at Boeing Aircraft which set off a recession in Seattle from 1967 to 1972.  The population of Seattle plummeted as people left town to find work elsewhere.  Two local real estate agents thought it would be funny to put up a billboard about the exodus, saying, “Will the Last Person Leaving Seattle – Turn Out the Lights.”

Besides Boeing employees, many other people such as restaurant workers, lost their jobs when the population of Seattle decreased and small businesses could not sustain themselves.  In that time period the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle had been established and growing for about 25 years and was beginning to show signs of the end of one era and the start of another.  We can see how the slowdown in the economy affected Wedgwood at the start of the 1970s, with fewer and fewer small, locally-owned stores, and the coming of more banks and larger chain stores.  Gas stations went out of business, too, because of higher operating costs and fewer customers.

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Wedgwood’s NE 95th Street Gas Station Intersection

In the 1940s the intersection of 35th Avenue NE and NE 95th Street had gas stations on three corners, and a used-car lot as well.   This intersection on the northern boundary of the Wedgwood neighborhood once called itself Morningside or sometimes Maple Leaf, in reference to the elementary school on NE 100th Street.

Up until the 1940s, the intersection of NE 95th Street had more “going on” than the intersection of NE 85th Street.  With the development of Albert Balch’s Wedgwood neighborhood centered at 85th, population grew in that area, businesses began to cluster around NE 85th and that intersection ultimately became the heart of Wedgwood.

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Gas Stations and Intersections in Wedgwood

NE 75th Street intersection.Photo by Christopher Priest of The Urbanist

Looking west along NE 75th Street from the intersection of 35th Avenue NE.  Photo by Christopher Priest of TheUrbanist.org

The Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle has a linear business district along the arterial 35th Avenue NE, with stores clustered at the major intersections of NE 75th, 85th and 95th Streets.  As the neighborhood began to take shape in the 1940s, there were one or more gas stations at each of these intersections.

Pictured at right, the Subway sandwich shop at the corner of NE 75th Street, was once the site of a gas station.

By the 1980s the number of gas stations in Wedgwood had declined sharply and they were replaced mostly by store buildings.

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Gas Stations and Open Space in Wedgwood: the Morningside Substation

Even in the short history of the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle, there are some sites which have had multiple different buildings and uses over time.  One such site is the northwest corner of NE 86th Street on 35th Ave NE, which first took on an identity in 1949 when it became the Morningside Electrical Substation.

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Business Changes and Development Pressures in Northeast Seattle: Neighborhood Stores

The years following the end of World War Two in the 1940s saw the rise of new kinds of stores.  Some were big supermarkets which had a much wider variety of products than traditional corner grocery stores, and some were small convenience markets where the kind of products you might want to pick up quickly, such as a bottle of ketchup, were sold.    Different kinds of stores vied with one another in the post-war retail environment.  In 1946 a chain of stores owned by the Southland Corporation, changed their name to 7-Eleven to emphasize their longer hours of operation.

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