Postcard photographer M. L. Oakes has captioned his subject “Edgewater looking N.E.” and yet many, perhaps most, of those now living in these blocks will, I’d bet, have no inkling that they live in Edgewater. Some will put themselves in Fremont, others in Wallingford. Only a few will prefer Freeford or Wallingmont. In spite of this confusion, we thank Oakes, for it is rare indeed to find a historic glimpse into any part of old and now largely forgotten Edgewater, especially this extended part of it north of 40th Street.
Woodland Park Avenue is in the foreground, and you can make out the Green Lake trolley tracks running to either side of the darker strip of weeds allowed to grow in the middle of the avenue. Near the scene’s center, 41st Street climbs into Wallingford east from Stone Way, which can also be glimpsed center-left, and a portion of the intervening, and appropriately named, Midvale Avenue is evident center-right. Not more than ten years before Oakes recorded this subject a trout stream flowed through this vale south to Lake Union.
The Edgewood neighborhood was first platted at the north shore of Lake Union in June 1889, soon after Seattle’s “great fire.” Perhaps the partners in this platting, north shore farmer William Ashworth and one time Seattle Mayor Corliss P. Stone, figured that fire-frightened citizens combined with the flood of immigrants, would bring home builders to the north shore of Lake Union. Whatever, they were right. It helped that since 1887 one could easily get here on the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad’s commuter service. Also the electric trolleys that first reached Fremont in 1890 over a Westlake trestle continued north to Green Lake, here along Woodland Park Ave.
The home on the right is not among the many homes In Oakes’ view that survive a century later, but the large box, far left, did make it. It was built in 1906, 39 feet wide, and by the mid-1930s another symmetrical 24 feet was added at the rear. Within then were five apartments, one of them with five rooms.