The Trees of Autumn in Wedgwood

The flame ash street trees along 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood have been vibrant with color in the autumn season of 2019.

October 2019: Looking southward on 35th Ave NE at the corner of NE 94th Street, with Fiddler’s Inn at center and Fire Station 40 at right.  Photo by Valarie.

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October 2019 in the Wedgwood Neighborhood of Seattle

The Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle is rich with colorful trees in the autumn season, including the drive along 35th Ave NE with its street trees.  Oranges and yellows abound, set off by pumpkin decorations.

Two traditional activities in October in Wedgwood are the pumpkin patch and the trick-or-treat in the business district on Halloween.

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The Business District of Wedgwood, Then and Now

Evans Thriftway opened in 1957 at a remodelled IGA store at 8606 35th Ave NE.

Those of us who grew up in the Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle tend to be nostalgic about businesses and buildings of bygone years.  Some types of businesses which once were in Wedgwood, such as Dairy Queen, 7-Eleven stores and small gas station markets, no longer exist.

Some buildings in the commercial district of Wedgwood have been remodelled and re-used by a succession of businesses, until finally being torn down and replaced, as was the grocery store building at 8606 35th Ave NE.

There have been many changes in the business environment in Wedgwood in the decades since the neighborhood was created in the 1940s.  Wedgwood now has some kinds of businesses which didn’t exist in the 1940s, such as a tanning salon, a yoga studio, chain stores like Rite Aid and Starbucks, and even banks — there were no bank branches in Wedgwood until the 1960s.

By 2007 the old grocery building at 8606 35th Ave NE was at the end of its useful life. It stood vacant while a redevelopment project was on hold.  Finally in 2012 the Jasper Apartment building went up on this site.

Some of the commercial buildings in the Wedgwood business district wore out and were replaced out of necessity.  The former grocery store building at 8606 35th Ave NE was used by a nonprofit agency for a while, then was torn down and replaced by a four-story apartment complex, the Jasper, completed in 2012.

Up until the plans to build the Jasper, Wedgwood neighborhood activists had been unaware that the zoning allowed for a four-story building on 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.  It was this controversy which began in 2007, which set off the process of trying to come up with a plan to preserve the business district of Wedgwood.  Efforts to support, enhance and preserve the business district continue with Wedgwood activists today.

The overpowering, tall Jasper Apartment at 8606 35th Ave NE was the shock which set off neighborhood activism for better zoning regulations.

We have to accept changes over the passage of time, but what we should not accept is the current lack of support for the business district in Wedgwood – support that should come from the City of Seattle in proper zoning of business blocks to preserve commercial use.

This blog post will describe the current status of “zoning” which means the regulations on what can be built, as to the height, bulk and scale of buildings and their designated use for residential or commercial occupancy.

The construction of the Jasper, pictured at right, set off a Wedgwood community project which was meant to bring about enhancement of the business district via improved zoning, but these recommendations were never implemented by Seattle City Council.  Newer City Council representatives still have not responded to the need to support neighborhood businesses.

Copyright notice:  the text and photos of this article are protected under Creative Commons Copyright.  Do not copy without permission.

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The Early Community in the State Park Plat in Wedgwood

In the early 1900s almost no one lived in what is now the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle, due to the area’s lack of access to water, its remoteness and the lack of roads.

Capt. DeWitt C. Kenyon

In the 1870s, Capt. DeWitt C. Kenyon, a Civil War veteran from Michigan, came to Seattle and made a homestead land claim of 160 acres on both sides of the present NE 75th Street.  Land records tell us of the boundaries of the Kenyon claim, but we don’t know exactly where the Kenyon’s log cabin home was located.  Possible locations include the present site of Nathan Eckstein School at 3003 NE 75th Street.

After living in Seattle for about twelve years, Capt. Kenyon moved on to California.  In 1888 Capt. Kenyon’s north Seattle homestead claim property was sold to a young land speculator, Charles H. Baker, and his group of investors.   But Baker’s land investment never did yield a profit for him; house lots did not sell well due to the remote location and the ups and downs in the Seattle economy in the 1890s.

Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle. Map courtesy of HistoryLink.

This blog post will tell how Baker’s investment land, named the State Park plat, was populated by just a few families by 1910.  A few more people came to Wedgwood in the 1920s and 1930s.  Finally the Wedgwood area really began to grow in the 1940s due to the wartime demand for housing for workers, and development of the first Wedgwood houses by Albert Balch.

Looking at the houses along 31st and 32nd Avenues NE gives a representative history of the phases of Wedgwood housing from the early 1900s to today.  We know that some of the earliest houses in Wedgwood were located here, just north of the (future) Nathan Eckstein school site, and that these streets did not get completely filled up with houses until the 1950s.

Copyright notice:  text and photos on this article are protected under a Creative Commons Copyright.  Do not copy without permission.

The house at 3202 NE 75th Street, highlighted in the foreground, is for sale in 2019. Looking southward across NE 75th Street, we see the Nathan Eckstein school site. Both properties were on homestead claim land until 1888. Photo courtesy of Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

 

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Lincoln High School in Seattle

A ribbon-cutting and open-house event was held at Seattle’s Lincoln High School on September 3, 2019, as the school celebrated its modernization and renovation.  There will be more opportunities for alumni to tour the building — see the Lincoln Lynx Alumni Association page for more info.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 3, 2019 at Lincoln High School. Photo by Valarie.

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Seattleness

Did you know that Seattle residents live under 240 days of gray skies per year?  The cover illustration of this wonderful book, Seattleness, is a histogram featuring color samples from the Seattle sky measured over a year’s time and laid out in lengths of hours.  The daily colors-of-the sky photos were taken from a camera mounted on the tip-top of Seattle’s Space Needle.

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Summer Fun in Wedgwood

August is a festival month in Seattle, with parades and outdoor events around the city.  In the first weekend of August 2019, Blue Angels Navy pilots zoomed over Lake Washington on Seattle’s eastern edge, while hydroplanes roared in the water.

Sunday, August 25, 2019 will be a day of summer fun in the Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle.  The annual Wedgwood Car Show and Cancer Fundraiser will be held at the Wedgwood Broiler, 8230 35th Ave NE, from 10 AM to 3 PM.

The car show, held in the parking lot of the Wedgwood Broiler restaurant, is free admission for spectators.  It is a great day to come out in the sun and fun!

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Seattle Stream Names

Seattle geologist and author David B. Williams

The City of Seattle has at least fifty streams flowing across its ridges, through meadows and wetlands into bodies of water including Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

There is no one source for a list of Seattle streams and their names.  Geologist and naturalist David B. Williams has compiled his research into the stream names, which is a journey into Seattle history.

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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.  This was when the decision was made to have 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 at the Center of the Universe

Guidepost at the Center of the Universe in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

Fremont is one of Seattle’s most art-filled neighborhoods, with many murals, sculptures and other indoor and outdoor artworks.  As written on the webpage of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, “Where else will you find a troll, a drawbridge, a rocket, dinosaurs, art you can dress up, and a Lenin statue…???”

One of Fremont’s art installations is called The Guidepost, supporting the claim of Fremont as The Center of the Universe.  The story is that back in the 1990s the claim of Center of the Universe was first made by Fremont’s artistic community, the Artistic Republic of Fremont.  But actually, the claim of Fremont as the center of Seattle life goes back much farther, to the early years of the neighborhood.

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