(click to enlarge photos)
NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.
We had two “thens” to choose from, and here follows the alternative.
This week we look south-southeast into a somewhat befuddling Ballard intersection where Leary Way, before curving to the east and ultimately heading for Fremont, meets 17th Avenue. N.W. and N.W. 48th Street. The photographer of this picture was working for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company, whose negatives we have used before, and will surely many times to come, the fates willing. So the intended subjects were the big signs on the far side of the curving Leary Way.
On the left of the featured photo at the top, between the Mobilgas flying horse (named Pegasus by the ancient Greeks) and the OK Texaco service station, 17th Avenue N.W. heads north. In the early 1890s, 17th was the eastern border for Gilman Park, an early name for Ballard. In 1936, the likely date of the photo, this intersection was obviously devoted to filling stations, billboards and power poles. The pavement, laid in 1930, is fairly fresh. Unlike the many brick
landmarks on Ballard Avenue, one block to the west, the buildings along Leary Way were mostly one- and two-story commercial clapboards and manufacturing sheds, like the one behind the billboards at the scene’s center, again, in the featured photo on top. (Here we will insert three billboard photos taken on Leary Way in the three block run between N. W. Dock Place and Market Street. (They do not all look in the same direction.)
Leary Way was named for Seattle capitalist John Leary, who was the first president of the West Coast Improvement Company (WCIC), which through the 1890s shaped Ballard into the “Shingle Capitol of the World.” Writing in 1900, pioneer Seattle historian Thomas Prosch called it the “most successful” real estate enterprise connected to Seattle. The town was named for Capt. William Rankin Ballard, who with Leary was one of the WCIC’s principal developers. Ballard explained that in the first three months of the township venture he made 300 percent profit on the property that he had earlier “won” as a booby price in a “heads or tails” gamble with a friend. Ballard did not live in Ballard, but recounted this from his First Hill mansion.
Behind the photographer of the featured photo at the top, the first Ballard street grid, a triangle of about a dozen blocks south of Market Street and west of 17th Avenue N.W., is aligned to the nearby Salmon Bay shoreline. Otherwise, this rapidly growing, confident and, beginning in 1890, incorporated suburb followed the American practice – often written as law – of laying streets in conformity to the compass.
On Leary Way, another disruption of the greater Ballard grid follows soon after Leary passes east under the north approach to the Ballard Bridge. (The bridge’s trusses appear at the far-right.) At 11th Avenue N.W., Leary Way turns to the southeast cutting the shortest
possible route to Fremont through a somewhat treeless neighborhood of grid-conforming streets, snuggly lined with well-tended workers’ homes. There are cherished alternative names for this neighborhood just east of Ballard or just west of Fremont. It is sometimes called Ballmont, and other times, Freelard. Of course, both are good-natured popular names meant to calm anxieties along a border between neighbors.
Anything to add, Paul? Pro forma, Jean. First a few links pulled by Ron Edge from past features followed by a stand-alone but not forlorn feature from the neighborhood: its Carnegie Library. By this time some of the Edge Links will surely have been employed in this blog before, repetitions (we repeat) we are proud of and play like musical motifs in different contexts or on different staffs. Remembering my mom – again again – “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” Thank’s mom.
4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Leary Way”
I enjoyed the pictures of Leary Way. I would love to see some of 15th Ave NW as well, especially of Crown Hill and the “Bardahl” neighborhood!
Always interested in pictures of Ballard, and in particular Leary. Grandparents Smith were new to area, having come west from Wisconsin in 1905 and soon thereafter started a business in 5400 block of Leary, first auto repair shop in the area, as well as their home on Leary.
Curious about origin of name Ione