Street layout of Seattle

Street layout of Seattle

The street layout of Seattle is based on a series of disjointed grid patterns.

Street grid layout

Most streets in Seattle run either north-south or east-west, except in the old town. The old town of Seattle is bounded by Elliott Bay on the west, Yesler Way on the south, Denny Way on the north, and Broadway on the east, which encompasses all of Downtown, Belltown, the Denny Regrade, and parts of Pioneer Square and First Hill. The grid is oriented 32 degrees west of north from Yesler Way north to Stewart Street from Alaskan Way east to 3rd Avenue, Olive Way from 3rd Avenue east to 7th Avenue, and to Howell Street from 7th Avenue east to Denny Way. North of there, but south of Denny Way, the grid is oriented 49 degrees west of north.Samson]


These three grid patterns are the result of a disagreement between David Swinson "Doc" Maynard, whose land claim lay south of Yesler Way, and Arthur A. Denny and Carson D. Boren, whose land claims lay to the north (with Henry Yesler and his mill soon brought in between):Speidel (1967)] Denny and Boren preferred that their streets follow the Elliott Bay shoreline, while Maynard favored a grid based on the cardinal directions for his (mostly flat, mostly wet) claim. All three were competing to have the downtown built on their land. Denny prevailed in what would become the central business district, but it was Maynard's grid that ended up being extended throughout the cityPhelps] and into all of King County (60 miles east to west). Some smaller cities in King County, such as North Bend, have their own naming system and grid in the center of town, but Maynard's Pioneer Square based grid officially covers the entire county.


Directionals (e.g., N, NE) are systematized in Seattle. To a lesser degree, so are street types (e.g., , ). As a rule, only streets that run more or less east-west (or, in the central business district, northeast-southwest) can be called "street", and only streets that run more or less north-south (or, in the central business district, northwest-southeast) can be called "avenue." However, a "road", "", "way", or thoroughfare with any other type designation may run in any direction. The boundaries of the Central Business District from which street numbering would start were to be called "Ways" (Denny Way, Yesler Way, Broadway).

Seattle is divided into eleven sections for the purpose of determining which directionals are to be used.

# "streets" and other east-west thoroughfares are "prefixed" by the directional; for example NE 45th Street.
# "avenues" and other north-south thoroughfares are "suffixed" by the directional; for example 45th Avenue NE.
# with a few exceptions, the same directional is used as both prefix and suffix within each section.

North of the Lake Washington Ship Canal are the following sections: west of 1st Avenue NW, the section; between 1st Avenue NW and 1st Avenue NE, the N section; east of 1st Avenue NE, the section.

South of the canal but north of Denny Way are the following sections: west of Queen Anne Avenue N, the W section; between Queen Anne Avenue N and Eastlake Avenue E, a section in which avenues are suffixed N and in which streets have no prefix; east of Eastlake Avenue E, the E section.

South of Denny Way but north of Yesler Way are two sections: east of Broadway from Yesler Way north to Union Street, east of Minor Avenue from Union Street north to Pike Street, and east of Melrose Avenue from Pike Street north to Denny Way, streets are prefixed E and avenues have no suffix; to the west this border, no directionals are used.

South of Yesler Way are two sections: east of the waterfront and (south of the Duwamish Waterway) east of 1st Avenue S, the S section; and west of 1st Avenue S, the SW section. There is no section within the Seattle city limits, the SE section contains all of the southeastern suburbs and the rest of the southern half of King County, including Mercer Island, parts of Renton [Ibid and
Phelps, street layout by compass direction, pp. 227–232, current grid pp. 233–235.
] and Bellevue, and other locations within the county.


Addressing in Seattle (and throughout King County) keeps a uniform numbering plan. On streets that run north and south, odd numbered addresses are on the west side of the street with even to the east. On streets that run east and west, odd numbered addresses are on the south side of the street, with even numbered addresses to the north. The address is based on its location relative to the grid (not relative to the location of the beginning of road) with the last two digits consecutively incrementing with the grid and the leading digits designating the location on the grid.

For example, the name "32nd Avenue NE" applies to several physically discontinuous street segments running along approximately the same line of the grid. One of these segments runs from NE 75th Street to NE 80th Street, crossed only by NE 77th Street; its two blocks are the 7500 block and the 7700 block.

The twelve streets in the central business district are named as six first-letter pairs (south to north): Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine. One way to remember the order of the street pairs is with the mnemonic "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest", (JCMSUP).

Only one street, Madison Street, runs uninterrupted from the salt water of Puget Sound in the west to the fresh water of Lake Washington in the east. The unusual orientation and contiguous nature of this street is because it is a direct route to, and in the same direction as a cross-lake ferry route that once operated between Madison Park and Houghton on the east side of Lake Washington. A cable car once operated on Madison street from downtown Seattle to the ferry terminal at Madison Park. Other historical cable cars ran along Yesler Way, Jackson Street, Queen Anne Avenue—"The Counterbalance", and 1st Avenue-2nd Avenue).Crowley] No street, excluding Interstate 5 and State Route 99—both freeways in whole or in part—runs without interruption from the northern to the southern city limits. This is largely the result of Seattle's topography. Split by the Duwamish River and the Lake Washington Ship Canal, containing four lakes within the city limits, and boasting deep ravines and at least seven hills [The landscape carved by the Vashon Glacier some 14,000 years ago.
[ "150 Years: Seattle By and By: maps"] , Seattle History: Maps, "The Seattle Times", (c) 2006, retrieved 21 April 2006.
] there are few more-or-less straight routes where such a road could reasonably be built, even allowing for the short bridge or two.

Arterials defined

The City defines Principal, Minor and Collector arterials.
* Principal arterials serve as the principal route for the movement of traffic through the City. These connect interstate freeways to major activity centers, to minor and collector arterial streets and directly to destinations, as well as interneighborhood traffic.
* Minor arterials are generally located on neighborhood boundaries except when necessary to provide adequate service to traffic generators located within neighborhoods.
* Collector arterials are typically located within neighborhood boundaries and serve small group of stores, schools, small apartment complexes, and residential land uses.
* Access Streets are residential and commercial side streets. [Seattle Department of Transportation (2005). [ Street Classification Maps] . Retrieved 21 April 2006.
[ High-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 16.1 MB
[ Medium-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 1.45 MB 12 January 2004.
[ Low-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 825 KB 12 January 2004.
[ Legend Definitions - Planned Arterials Map] , PDF format. 12 January 2004.
The high resolution version is good for printing, 11 x 17. The low and medium resolution versions are good for quicker online viewing. [Source: [ Note on Accessing These PDF Files] ]

See also

*Seattle neighborhoods for articles on individual neighborhoods, including information on thoroughfares.

Other Interesting Links



* [ "150 Years: Seattle By and By: maps"] , Seattle History: Maps, "The Seattle Times", 2006, retrieved 21 April 2006. The landscape carved by the Vashon Glacier some 14,000 years ago.
* Baillargeon, Emily. [ "Seattle Now: A Letter"] . "New England Review", Spring 1999. 21 April 2006, "This requested article does not exist."
* City of Seattle Department of Transportation, (n.d.). [ "City of Seattle Street Classification Maps"] . Retrieved 21 April 2006.
* City of Seattle Department of Transportation, (12 January 2004). [ "Planned Arterials Map Legend Definitions"] . Retrieved 21 April 2006.
* Crowley, Walt (2 October 2000). [ "Cable cars enter service in Seattle on September 28, 1887."] Retrieved 21 April 2006. Crowley referenced Leslie Blanchard, The Street Railway Era in Seattle: A Chronicle of Six Decades (Forty Fort, PA: Harold E. Cox, 1968;
Walt Crowley, Routes: A Brief History of Public Transportation in Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993).
* Phelps, Myra L. (1978). "Public works in Seattle". Seattle: Seattle Engineering Department. ISBN 0-9601928-1-6.
* Samson, Karl. [ "Frommer's: Seattle (Orientation)"] . Retrieved 15 November 2005, 21 April 2006. On-line selection is from Samson, Karl (2006). "Frommer's Seattle 2006" [Title incremented annually each January] . [City] : Wiley. ISBN 0-7645-9587-3.
* Seattle Department of Transportation (2005). [ "Principal, Minor and Collector arterials"] . Retrieved 21 April 2006.
[ High-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 16.1 MB
[ Medium-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 1.45 MB 12 January 2004.
[ Low-Resolution Version] , PDF format, 825 KB 12 January 2004.
[ Legend Definitions - Planned Arterials Map] , PDF format. 2 January 2004.
The high resolution version is good for printing, 11 x 17. The low and medium resolution versions are good for quicker online viewing. [Source: [ pdf note]
* Speidel, Bill (1978). "Doc Maynard: the man who invented Seattle". Seattle: Nettle Creek Publishing Company. ISBN 0-914890-02-6.
* Speidel, Bill (1967). "Sons of the profits; or, There's no business like grow business: the Seattle story, 1851-1901". Seattle: Nettle Creek Publishing Company. ISBN 0-914890-00-X, ISBN 0-914890-06-9.

Further reading

* [ "Metro Memories scrapbook"] on official King County site, page "created on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of Metro, 2003". Retrieved 15 November 2005. .

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