Ballard Tide Flats and the 11th Ave Street End Park

On Thursday, June 11, 2015 Ballard celebrated the opening of the 11th Ave NW Street End Park. Neighbors gathered for the park’s dedication and celebrated with a potluck dinner. Photos of the event are available here.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) worked in partnership with the University of Washington to improve 11th Ave NW Street End.  The project is part of the Shoreline Street End Program, which works to preserve and improve public waterway access. Shoreline access projects are important for Seattle residents, as many residents don’t live right on the water and desire access.  This program is an effort to reclaim those spaces.

A landscape architecture studio, comprised of 25 undergraduate and graduate students, designed and then construct public access and habitat improvements over the span of two quarters (from January 5th – June 5th).

Historic Look at the 11th Ave NW Street End:

The photo below, item 51954 courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, is dated December 30, 1915.  Description provided states, “Ballard Tide Lands. Taken at a point on the hydraulic fill about 100′ NE of bulkhead on the N side of the Lake Washington Canal and about 200′ E of 11th Ave. NW, looking N 60 W, showing pools of water standing on top of fill.”

Today, this location is better known at the Ballard Fred Meyer’s parking lot.  Approximate modern view available HERE.


The next photo, item 51953 courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, is dated December 30, 1915.  Description provided states, “Gilman Park Addition. Taken at the SE corner of 11th Ave. NW and W 45th St. Boys skating.”

A modern view from this location would include the Fred Meyer’s parking lot and Albert Lee warehouse. Approximate modern view available HERE.


Bonus photo:

The final photo, item 51950 courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, is dated December 30, 1915. Description provided states, “Gilman Park Addition. Taken at the NW corner of 11th Ave., NW and W 47th St., looking N 60 W, showing portion of Block 168.”

Today, this location is a parking lot and future home of New Seasons Market.  Approximate modern view available HERE.


More about the Shoreline Street End Program:  

Lake Washington, Lake Union, Puget Sound, and other waterways offer Seattle residents more than 200 miles of magnificent shoreline.  While much of it is private or park land, 149 public streets in Seattle end on waterfronts.  These “shoreline street ends” are precious community assets designated by the City of Seattle (City Resolution 29370, adopted in September 1996) as special rights-of-way that should be preserved and improved for public use.  View map of shoreline street ends.

Though some street ends have been improved for public use, nearly two-thirds are unmarked, overgrown, or have private encroachments. Partnering with local residents and community groups, SDOT intends to improve these hidden spots so as to provide the public with increased waterfront access and enjoyment.

Guided by the policy that public access allows the highest and best use of these sites, SDOT’s Shoreline Street Ends Program manages the process for improving a shoreline street end and, in some cases, permitting of private uses.  SDOT Director’s Rule #00-1 lays out city guidelines for this program.

Then & Now: Grading the 900 block of NW 57th Street

The black & white photo was taken in between 1900 – 1909 and is courtesy The Seattle Public Library.

Looking west, the photo provides a unique panoramic view of the old West Woodland neighborhood, which once stretched the west side today’s Phinney Ridge.

The hillside had not yet been clear cut, and roads were not much more than dirt trails. This photo really illustrates how difficult it was to travel through the area. The automobile first arrived in Seattle in 1900, but most residents relied on their own two-feet or horse and wagon when available.

The description provided states, “Grading in 900 Block on W. 57th. Ballard”. I walked this stretch of roadway, and with the help of King County Parcel Viewer, was able to create this approximate view.

There is one house documented as having been built in 1900, 901 NW 57th Street, and it is included on the right side of the “Now” photo. This may be the same house in the background of the “Then” photo. The facade looks the same, but more research is needed to confirm. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy The Seattle Public Library


Then & Now - 9th and 57th

Rasmus Peter Jensen – The original West Woodland Neighbor

While Guy C. Phinney was busy building on Phinney Ridge, Rasmus Peter Jensen was making a name for himself right here in the West Woodland neighborhood.

Rasmus Peter Jensen, also known as Robert later in life, was born on June 14, 1862 in Skjod, Viborg, Denmark.  At the time of his birth his father, Jens, was 38 and his mother, Sidsel, was 39. Jensen immigrated to Seattle in 1889, the year Washington became a state, and homesteaded in the West of Woodland Park district, today’s West Woodland neighborhood. His original farm house was built in 1889 near the corner of 7th Ave NW and NW 60th Street.  The picture below of the Jensen Homestead was taken in 1891 and is courtesy MOHAI.


Jensen was a carpenter by trade and owned a construction business and a general store, Woodland Grocery, Flour & Feed, which was located on the corner of NW 60th & 4th Ave (photo at bottom of page). The photo of Jensen and his crew, below, was taken sometime between 1900 and 1910.  Jensen (far right) takes a lunch break with his construction crew at a house they are building. The men have carried their food to the site in lunchboxes. Photo courtesy of the Seattle MOHAI.


Jensen married his sweetheart Marie E.D. Hansen in 1892. They had two children during their marriage – Anna & Nathalia.  In their wedding photo below, Jensen wears a formal coat and trousers and Marie wears a dark dress with a shaped bodice and puffed sleeves. At the time, many women still followed the older custom of choosing a wedding dress that they could also wear at other times.

Jensen’s great-nephew, Dennis Jensen, told me that Rasmus died on January 9, 1943 in his home at 404 NW 60th Street at the age of 80.

Jensen_wedding_portrait_1892                 woodland flour and seed

For those of you who live to the south of NW 60th & 7th Ave NW, while working in your yards be on the lookout for rusted horse shoes, broken spades or other farm tools. The homes in the area are built on the old Jensen homestead. You all may have a piece of Seattle history right under your feet.

If you have old photos of the neighborhood, please share them with your West Woodland Neighbors by posting on this site, or emailing a JPEG copy to

Photos and historical data courtesy the MOHAI – Seattle.

Your home has history!

Discovering the history of a house, who lived in it and when it was built, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. This information can also be very useful. Knowing your homes history, can tell you what’s important about it – its significance to the community. It can also tell you how your house was constructed, if there were later additions or alterations. This sort of information can help when you’re thinking about making changes to your homes internal or external structure.

There are a wide range of resources available to you as you start researching the history of your home, including the Seattle Public Library. The libraries online resource center includes an array of tools and articles to support your research. One of those tools, “Researching the History of Seattle Buildings” is a 50-page guide with links to online resources, a directory of local agencies, worksheets and checklists.

Guide is available here:…/articles-and-research/local-history…

As you begin to uncover your homes history, please share with us by posting on this page. I would love to find out what you have learned about your home.


Meet John Nick

Over the 2013 holiday I had the pleasure of visiting with John Nick at my home. John is a West Woodland School Alumni, back when the school was K-8. He grew up at 824 NW 65th Street, just blocks from his family’s business on NW 65th.

During his visit, John shared photos and stories with me of his time living and working in the West Woodland neighborhood. John also gave me a booklet of memories that his friend Vern Vellat had put together and shared with his peers from West Woodland’s class of 1941. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of those stories with you.

The black and white picture below was taken on the west side of “DeJardine’s Garage” (today, J&J Collision at 517 NW 65th St). In this 1931 picture, John is sitting on a pony, with his brother Charles standing next to him. Both boys are dressed in western wear and it is believed that this photo was taken during “Klondike Days”, an annual West Woodland celebration that included a parade with bands and floats travelling down NW 65th.

The color photo is from John’s visit at my home. Thank you for your contribution John!

John Nick

Vintage West Woodland is made possible by YOU!

Without you, there would be no Vintage West Woodland. No historical record of how our neighborhood has grown and changed over the years. Here’s how you can support the continued research of our sweet little neighborhood:

1. Send in old photos. Do you have a box of photos showing the West Woodland Neighborhood 20+ years ago? The photos don’t need to be of a specific event, they can be something simple, like playing in your frontyard as a child. Post directly to this page or email, Include a short description with each photo.

2. Help me collect oral histories. Do you know someone who has lived in the neighborhood for 20+ years? I would like to be in touch with them to collect stories about the neighborhood.

3. Share this page with others. The more that people are aware of this historical project, the more photos, videos and stories I will be able to collect.

Thank you!

Photo (circa 1980) courtesy West Woodland graduate Jane Cvancara Wendt. Jane and her Mom had just purchased milk and were walking home along 5th Ave NW, between 58th & 56th. In 1990, the homes and street were removed to make room for the new West Woodland Elementary and playground. Thank you for sharing Jane!

jane with Milk

Then & Now: Looking North on 6th Ave NW, just south of NW 53rd

The black & white photo was taken sometime in 1920 and comes to us courtesy of the University of Washington Digital Collection, order number SEA0015.

On the left side of the 1920 photo you can see the corner of “Vernon Grocery” built in 1909. Vernon’s was one of the many neighborhood markets that once dotted our area.

The trolley had finally made its way into our neighborhood by 1912. You can clearly see the trolley in the distance and the tracks running the length of the street. The trolley came to us through the Fremont and Ross neighborhoods, travelling along 6th Ave until reaching West 55th (today, Market Street). At this point the trolley took a right and then an immediate left onto 5th Ave NW. More trolley history in a future post.

Most of the homes pictured in the 1920 photo are still standing, a few cosmetic changes to their exterior, but all recognizable. Just out of camera range (to the north) in the “Now” photo are two of my favorite restaurants, Veraci Pizza – Seattle WA and Brimmer & Heeltap.

If you have old photos, please share them with your West Woodland Neighbors by posting on this site, or emailing a JPEG copy to

Vernon Grocery store 6th and 53rd

Vernon Grocery 1909

Using the Puget Sounds Regional Archives

I once heard someone describe the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue as “Google Street View, circa 1910”. While that may be a bit of a stretch you can discover pre-1930 pictures of homes and buildings through their archives.

Puget Sound Regional Archives provides a free and user-friendly service to assist you with your research of property in the Puget Sound area. Original records of the property – outlining details such as dimensions, materials, ownership and other relevant characteristics – can also be recovered. You can uncover images from your home’s historic past in a few easy steps:

Information Needed to Get Started:

1. Property address
2. Tax parcel number or a brief legal description (lot/block)
3. Your name and contact information

Then it’s time to submit a request. With the previously gathered information, choose your method of contact.

Phone: 425.564.3940
Fax: 425.564.3945
Address: Puget Sound Regional Archives; 3000 Landerholm Circle SE MS-N100; Bellevue

An archivist will then pull your records and notify you what information is available for your property. You can also visit the center. Check their website for hours of operation at:

Note, there is a nominal fee for pulling the records requested. Black and white photos can be ordered in a wide range of sizes, including 5×7 for $17 and 16×20 for $55. Original Records can be purchased for 25 cents per page.

If you have an interesting “Then & Now” photo set of your home, please share with us by posting on this page. I would love to find out what you have learned about your home.

Your Home’s History

Like most Seattlites, you’re probably not the original owner of the home you live in, so it is only natural to wonder what your home may have looked like when it was first built.

Today, I am going to walk you though how to pull your homes records from the King County Records website. In a later article, I will detail information available at the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue.

The King County Assessor regularly takes and files photographs of residences as part of its work. These photographs are part of the public record and most are available online. You may be able to see your homes floor plan and some previous sale history. Permit history is available on the City of Seattle website at:

Locating your homes records online:

1. Go to the King County Assessor’s eRealProperty site at:…/eRealProperty/default.aspx

2. Enter your address or parcel number from your tax bill (addresses change, but parcel numbers do not)

3. Click the “Search” button.

You should now be looking at the Assessor’s report for your home.
On the top of the page click the button labeled “Property Detail”
Scroll down until you see the picture of your home, then click on the camera icon. Floor plans may also be available, click the camera icon above the floor plan.

You should now be seeing the photographs. Enjoy!

If you have an interesting “Then & Now” photo set of your home, please share with us by emailing I would love to find out what you have learned about your home.

Where do you live?

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.   ROSS Map

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.

City of Seattle Annexation Map

Map of Seattle, created in 1938, showing early annexations.  “Sanitary Survey Land Use Project ” (Record Series 2613-03), courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives.