Seattle Now & Then: North Edgewater

THEN: The Edgewater plat (1889) and neighborhood was named for Chicago’s Edgewater Beach, which was developed as an exclusive Chicago suburb in the mid-1880s. This view looks northeast from the rear of the Swedish Immanuel Church at the northeast corner of 40th Street and Whitman Avenue. It dates from 1907 or 08. The southeast corner of Lincoln High School, which opened in 1907, is just evident on the far left Wallingford horizon. (Photo courtesy of Dan Kerlee)
NOW: Too get around some trees Jean Sherrard moved a few feet east of Oakes’ prospect, but he too took his photograph from the rear of a church. (now by Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Too get around some trees Jean Sherrard moved a few feet east of Oakes’ prospect, but he too took his photograph from the rear of a church. (now by Jean Sherrard)

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.


An odd church roof stands between Jean and Aurora

Jean turned his camera to the southeast and took a couple more shots through a veritable mare’s nest of wires, combined below into a panorama.

The rest of the view
The rest of the view

In our next blog post (see below), Paul offers a detailed examination of photographer Oakes’ somewhat narrower southeasterly view.


And near the end of a long and fruitful day, Paul pauses to admire a spectacular tomato bruschetta at his beloved Ivar’s.

3 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: North Edgewater”

  1. Benjamin
    I did not know about those historical street name acknowledgments in Kirkland and Kenmore. Can you give us an example? Perhaps if so directed we can find one – for those of us on this side of the lake – on the Google Earth street photos. The street names in Seattle, you know, were “rationalized” in the mid-1890s. In many instances historical names were dropped for numbers. What a shame really. Look at the twisted – in space and name – streets in Paris and London. They are often both picturesque delights and historical clues. Here in Wallingford east of Eastern, numbers took over. For instance 1st Avenue N.E. was once Dickens avenue. When friends on First learned this they were almost ready to lead a campaign to return the original name. Almost. Their zeal was soon exhausted and the activism abandoned, perhaps because of the considerable effort that would be required to convince neighbors, some of whom, no doubt, would still prefer First over Dickens. Strange but almost certainly true.

  2. I’m a bit late to the discussion but I just discovered this great blog. I too would like to see historic names restored fully in my area (north of Kirkland). In the city of Kirkland and Bothell, the historic name is displayed under the current one in small type along with the origin date. An example is how 7th street used to be called Picadilly Street! In the Juanita area, examples of old street names reflect the Scandanavian settlers. How would you like to live on Paananan Road (131st Way) or Knudesn Road (120th Street)?

    Another folly is the intersection of 132nd Ave. and 132nd Street! The intersection is historically Upper Road with turned to the north with several unnamed dog paths going east and south.

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