One-Minute History Lesson

Street Names

By Matthew Baldwin January 4, 2009 Published in the March 2008 issue of Seattle Met

Columbia Street This street is just one of many, many things in the region called Columbia—including, almost, the state itself. “Columbia” was the name settlers chose for this area when they petitioned Congress for recognition as an official territory in 1851. Their request was approved a year later with a caveat that the name be changed to Washington instead.

University Street Founded in 1861, the Territorial University of Washington was originally located on the corner of Fourth and Seneca. Though the school was later moved north (with “Territorial” dropped from its name, as the region had since achieved statehood), this street honors its former location.

Yesler Way So many logs were skidded down the road to Henry L. Yesler’s sawmill that the street eventually came to bear the entrepreneur’s name. Despite having been named after Seattle’s first millionaire, the street’s nickname—“Skid Row”—is now synonymous with the downtrodden.

Minor Avenue Before moving to Seattle, Dr. Thomas T. Minor was the mayor of Port Townsend. Shortly after his arrival to our city he was elected to the mayoral post yet again, and served from 1887 to 1888—then drowned while duck hunting the following year.

Maynard Alley The reason is lost to history—why David Swinson “Doc” Maynard, one of the city’s founders, got stuck with a mere alley while fellow city founders Denny and Boren wound up with major thoroughfares. But it could’ve had something to do with the fact that in 1853 Maynard arrived drunk at a major street-planning summit.

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