The Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection is a time machine of sorts, providing Seattleites with the ability to look back in time at their city, neighborhood, and block. I browse the archives for fun, looking at old photos, maps, and other city documents that are available online, that is how I came across the photos for this post. I had seen them several times, but never investigated further because the description provided by the city was limited to the following:
That was it. No address or other indication of location was provided. Armed with the plat name, I went to work locating the approximate address of the photos you’ll see below. I was surprised to find that these photos were of homes on Market Street, between 6th & 7th Ave NW. When you think of Market, you don’t think “residential street”, you think noise, big trucks, and traffic! These photos paint a different picture of Market and it looks rather quiet.
The photos were part of a petition to the city, by Belanger and Belanger, asking that two parcels located in Block 2 of Ballard’s Addition to Gilman Park be rezoned. The request is dated January 26, 1953, which was four years after the Ballard – UW Extension, also known as the Ballard Spur, was created in 1949.
Ballard’s Addition to Gilman Park is a plat name provided by a long forgotten frontier developer, and block 2, which was reference by the city, is circled in red on the Kroll Map. This plat is made up of 10 blocks in the heart of the West Woodland Neighborhood, bordered by Market Street to the north, NW 50th Street to the south, and between 8th Ave NW & 3rd Ave NW.
The city denied the Belanger’s request for a rezone that year. I wasn’t able to find what zoning the Belanger’s were requesting, or why their request was denied. More to hunt down later. Enjoy the Market Street views circa 1953.
About Plat Names:
Plats in Seattle have unique names provided by the land owner. So while you may live on the west side of Phinney, your plat name may be something Ballard related. Most plat names in our area were assigned during the land grab between the City of Ballard & City of Seattle, and owners may have chosen names to show where their allegiance lie.
In 1895, one frontier neighbor even went so far as to deed the City of Ballard a huge chunk on land on the west side of Phinney Hill. This parcel later became Greenwood Park, see Baist Map of 1905 below. Today, there’s just a sliver of this park remaining – Greenwood Triangle Park.
A plat is a section of surveyed land that the owner has created a plan for, including lot sizes and identifying where they believe streets will be. A plat document is used for construction purposes, filing for permits with the city, and showing to prospective buyers. The document shows how the area will be developed for personal use or lots sold for home building, but it does not mean that the area is already developed with basic infrastructure like roads. Sometimes items shown on plat documents are for future planning purposes and they currently only exist on paper. Something to consider when looking at old documents.
You may find that you live in a plat called “Steel Works Addition” or “Salmon Bay City”, both on the west side of Phinney Hill. Remember those are not neighborhood names, they are simply names assigned to a specific chunk of land by the property owner. You can learn about Seattle’s current plat process available HERE.
One Final Shot of Market Street:
This photo was taken 2 years after the photos above, in 1955, and was part of the file created to document the completion of the Market Street Widening project. Look closely at the right hand side of this photo, you can see the mid-century house that was once on the lot Belanger wanted to rezone. There are several other data points you can compare & connect with the photos above. I won’t point them all out – enjoy the hunt!