Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!

Looking east up the hill at Denny Way and First Avenue. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives.
Denny Way & 1st Ave Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

This odd-shaped intersection separating Queen Anne’s Uptown from Belltown is uniquely historic. It doesn’t add much to local history that the line demarcating Queen Anne as studied by the Queen Anne Historical Society runs along the middle of Denny Way. As you might suspect though, our line of demarcation is not a random choice. In fact, it separates William Bell’s 1853 land claim from David Denny’s and provides a neat reminder of the day in February 1853 when David’s older brother Arthur and his brother-in-law Carson Boren jockeyed with Doc Maynard for the site of Seattle’s downtown and argued about how to lay out the city. …Continue reading “Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!”

Huh? My mother-in-law’s an ADU?

There was a lot of chatter this summer of 2016 over the proposal to allow the construction of three-story Detached Alternative Dwelling Units (DADUs) on modest sized lots now hosting single family homes. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) tend to be independent dwelling units in an attic or a basement with separate doors and appropriate emergency exits. Realtors call an ADU a mother-in-law.

Some people fear that these new dwelling units will change our neighborhoods by increasing density and expediting the loss of the neighborhood’s historic character. Interestingly, the historic character of Upper Queen Anne especially the area west of Queen Anne Ave. with alleys includes a large number of alley houses. A brief tour of the area north of Smith between First and Third Avenues revealed at least 15 alley houses, all of which add to the historic character of Upper queen Anne. At least two of these alley houses are brand new, and three of them on Galer between 1st and 2nd West are really for the birds.

These Alley Houses are for the birds.
These alley houses are for the birds

It may turn out though that the increase in DADUs (Detached ADU) and ADUs has an effect not unlike what happened in response to the Urban Villages created as part of the 1993 Comp Plan. Although written primarily to prevent urban sprawl in rural King County, the plan forced multi-family apartment buildings and condos into the Urban Villages and successfully protected single family homes and the historic neighborhoods in which they are located. Upper Queen Anne and Uptown were both designated villages with the Uptown village encouraging more commercial development than Upper Queen Anne’s.

I am particularly interested in the DADUs constructed long ago in our neighborhood and which now in their own right add its historic character. In many cases, the DADUs are located along the alley edge of simple single family homes and may have replaced early garages. Of course, that conclusion may indeed be speculative, for many of the houses in the neighborhood were constructed before cars were the prevalent way to get around. As is more likely, the alley houses expanded the main home on the lot making room for growing families or newlyweds. The house at 2004 First Avenue N. is said to have been a wedding gift for a newlywed child.  Even if it isn’t an alley house, the gift idea lends credence to my guess. …Continue reading “Huh? My mother-in-law’s an ADU?”

Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores

First in a Series

In the first decade of the twentieth century, small neighborhood food stores – groceries, butcher stores, bakeries, and candy stores – began to appear along the busiest streets of Queen Anne. These small family businesses opened along streets where Seattle’s electric streetcars ran. Some of these streets were paved; others were dirt or wood planked.

Streetcar Line on 7th Ave W, 1911

By 1910, when the population of Seattle was approximately 240,000, there were four electric streetcar lines operating along the streets of Queen Anne. They were owned at that time by the Seattle Electric Company, a subsidiary of the Stone & Webster utility cartel.[i] Only the wealthy could afford horse-drawn carriages, and automobiles were a novelty, so most travel around Seattle was by electric streetcar. Polk’s 1910 Seattle City Directory boasted,

The city street railway system is one of the best in the United States. It covers the city and its suburbs with a network of lines aggregating about 215.5 miles in length . . . During the first four months of 1910, the average number of passengers carried daily on the lines of the Seattle Electric Company alone was 278,000, as compared with 265,000 for the same period in 1909, while during 1900 the average number carried daily was 38,000.

…Continue reading “Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores”