Seattlites love their neighborhoods and for good reason. Seattle is a collection of neighborhoods that have been annexed into the greater city limits over the last 100+ years. The city expanded geographically, from its original territory around Downtown and the Central Area, through a wave of annexations in the early 1900s, and then several annexations in the 1940’s and 1950’s that brought areas north of 85th and 65th Streets up to the current city limits at 145th Street. The full list of annexations is available here.
When explaining to people where I live, I first start by saying, “The west side of Phinney” or “The east side of Ballard”. The neighborhood of West Woodland has been claimed by other neighborhoods since Rasmus Peter Jensen first staked his claim in the late 1800’s. The former Ross Neighborhood in what is now Fremont has a similar experience, often referred to as “FreeLard” a combination of Fremont and Ballard.
The Ross Neighborhood – far left – is documented on this 1909 City of Seattle map.
I started my hunt to determine the proper neighborhood name by reaching out to the local historical societies, including Ballard’s. The City of Ballard’s eastern boundary, prior to annexation in 1907, was Division Ave – today 8th Ave NW.
Baist’s Real Estate Map of 1905 shows Division (8th) as the boundary between the City of Ballard and the City of Seattle. Streets west of Division had their own unique names when compared to streets east of Division. The streets east of Division were already numbered and named to correspond with the City of Seattle’s process.
The City of Seattle also has an interactive annexation map available online, showing West Woodland was a part of the North Seattle Annexation of 1891, 16 years before Ballard’s annexation. The North Seattle Annexation included the Greater Green Lake area, Fremont, and Phinney Ridge.
Next time someone asks me, “Where do you live?”, I will tell them, “West Woodland!” and then share the story of one of Seattle’s historic neighborhoods.
Map of Seattle, created in 1938, showing early annexations. “Sanitary Survey Land Use Project ” (Record Series 2613-03), courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives.