How Did That Get There?

The stories behind Seattle’s mysterious landmarks.

By Nena Peltin December 28, 2008

The Wedgwood Rock Near the intersection of NE 72nd St and 28th Ave NE

This 19-foot-tall boulder looms large over its parkway perch, in a quiet corner of a city not known for big rocks. It’s a “glacial erratic” (i.e., unlike its neighbors), which the Vashon Glacier dropped here about 14,000 years ago. Native Americans called it Big Rock and used it as a landmark and meeting place. The pioneer Miller family acquired the site in early territorial days, then sold it to developer Albert Balch in 1941 on condition he spare the rock. Balch and his wife named it and the surrounding community Wedgwood, after her favorite china.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen grew up three houses away; no word as to whether he cherishes any fond memories of the Wedgwood Rock. In the 1960s teenagers got stoned atop it and necked at its 75-foot base. City Council responded in 1970 by imposing a $100 fine for climbing it. Today picnickers flock to the rock. Preschoolers circle it in “Ring Around the Rosie” chains. And it serves as a real-world laboratory for both UW geology students and sixth-grade geography classes from nearby University Prep.

Filed under