How Did Lake City in North Seattle Get Its Name?

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.

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The Copestick Building in Wedgwood

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 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.

The creation of the new Wedgwood housing development in the 1940s led to the growth of an adjacent business district in the 1940s and 1950s, centered at the NE 85th Street intersection on 35th Ave NE.

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Car Show and Cancer Fundraiser at the Wedgwood Broiler

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.

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Remembering Shearwater

UPDATE of January 2, 2019:  The Decatur Annex building is on NE 77th Street at the corner of 43rd Ave NE, at the southern end of what is now Decatur School.  The little white wood-frame Annex is the last building from the complex of Navy housing, called Shearwater, which was on the site from 1945 to 1966.

The Decatur Annex building is located on NE 77th Street at the corner of 43rd Ave NE. Photo courtesy of Kevin Malin of the “You Know You Are From Wedgwood IF…” Facebook page.

In 2018 neighborhood activists learned that the school district planned to tear down the Decatur Annex, and the activists brought the matter to the City of Seattle Landmarks Board to advocate for historic preservation.  The Annex building represents the era of World War Two housing for personnel of the Sand Point Naval Air Station and a time when housing for Navy personnel was racially integrated.

At the City of Seattle Landmarks Board meeting on January 2, 2019, the Decatur Annex failed to get enough votes in favor of historic preservation.  The large cedar tree on the corner of the lot will be preserved when the Decatur Annex is torn down.

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A Market on Sand Point Way NE

During the Civil War, northern industrialists went to Scandinavian countries to recruit workers for mining, logging and factory operations, in place of American men who had gone to fight for the Union.

Frank Harold Rovainen (pronounced Rov-EYE-nen), born in Minnesota in 1905, was the grandson of a man who was in the first group of immigrants from Finland to Minnesota in 1865.  In the century following the Civil War, many immigrants and their descendants continued to move westward in search of other opportunities.  So it was that in 1936 Harold Rovainen, age 31, made a leap from Minnesota out to Seattle, where he got a job with a grocer at the Pike Place Market.

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Saving Wedgwood: Historic Preservation and Best-Use Planning in the Commercial Zones

In the 1940s during World War Two the population of Seattle swelled with war workers, and in the 1950s the population continued to increase with people who wanted to make their homes here in the beautiful Seattle area.

Young married couples of the 1950s loved the affordable homes built by Balch in the new Wedgwood development.

In the 1950s in Seattle, a new generation of young married couples was starting new lives and wanted their own houses.  The thinly populated northeast Seattle area, much of which was still outside the official Seattle City Limits, began to fill up with single-family housing.

A developer, Albert Balch, acquired and built on tracts of land which became the Wedgwood neighborhood.  Wedgwood is centered around NE 85th Street with a commercial district on 35th Ave NE and with single-family homes to the east and west of 35th Ave NE.

The Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle has a linear commercial district along 35th Avenue NE.

Because Wedgwood did not come completely into the Seattle City Limits until 1954, Balch’s housing developments were not yet subject to City zoning regulations.  Balch did his own urban planning, reserving the intersection of NE 85th Street for commercial development along on the arterial 35th Ave NE.

Balch built office buildings at 8050 and 8044 35th Ave NE for his personal office and that of his accounting, architecture, development and real estate sales staff.  Other buildings in that complex from 8014 to 8050 35th Ave NE were medical and dental offices.  But Balch did not know that his office complex contained a fatal flaw:  it was built in a block which up to the present time is still zoned residential, not commercial.

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Dooley’s Tavern on Sand Point Way NE

Safeco Plaza at 1001 Fourth Avenue (northwest corner of Madison Street) is on the former site of the Lincoln Hotel. To take this photo, I am standing with my back to the downtown Seattle Public Library, looking across Fourth Avenue.

A few minutes after midnight on April 7, 1920, the lights began to blink and go out at the Lincoln Hotel on Fourth & Madison Streets in downtown Seattle.  The desk clerk and the night watchmen smelled smoke, and they began telephoning the rooms and going along the hallways to rouse guests to flee the fire.  But before they could get very far, the heat and smoke of the rapidly-spreading fire forced them to leave the building, and they watched as flames shot up the central courtyard and began to consume the upper floors.  There were more than 300 people staying in the hotel.

When the fire department arrived there was little they could do to save the building, as the streams of water directed at the fire were not enough to quench the raging inferno.  Firemen commenced to rescue guests who were still inside the hotel.

This photo taken in 1906 shows the foundations being laid for the Seattle Public Library. Looking westward across Fourth Avenue we see the Lincoln Hotel.  Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Library Historic Photos Collection.

As crowds watched from the sidewalk, Fireman Carl R. Dooley climbed a fire department ladder as far as it would go, up the exterior wall to the fifth floor of the hotel.  Then Dooley continued climbing up by using an extension pole called a pompier or hook ladder, to reach a woman who was frantically waving for help out of a seventh-floor window.

Dooley lowered the woman with ropes to Police Officer Phil McNamee, a former fireman, who pulled her in through a fifth floor window.  Then Dooley climbed back down himself.  Fireman Dooley and Patrolman McNamee received commendations from the Mayor of Seattle for their heroism on the day of the Lincoln Hotel fire, having rescued a number of people.

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