Cobble, Cobble, Cobblestones

In memory of Roger Billings, a staunch defender of our cobblestone streets.

Queen Anne is blessed (bicyclists disagree about that) with many cobblestone streets. Every fan of Queen Anne history knows that the stones provided traction for horses struggling up the hill. Most history buffs can’t explain their conservation, although their prevalence on steep streets suggests they helped both horses and horseless carriages navigate the slopes for a long time. Even though the street surfaces are not official city landmarks, they are charming anachronisms someone at the Seattle Engineering Department, now SDOT, decided to protect.

Looking west down Blaine at 7th.
Looking west down Blaine at 7th.

The most notable Queen Anne cobblestone streets on the west side of the hill can be found at Blaine where it drops down off Queen Anne Boulevard at 7th Ave., and on Howe as it plunges from the steps below 7th to 10th. On the east side, there is a stretch of cobbles on Warren N. running south from Lee that the Fire Department favors. Queen Anne has the greatest share of Seattle’s 93 cobblestone streets with the east side of Capitol Hill a close second. …Continue reading “Cobble, Cobble, Cobblestones”

Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!

Looking east up the hill at Denny Way and First Avenue. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives.
Denny Way & 1st Ave Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

This odd-shaped intersection separating Queen Anne’s Uptown from Belltown is uniquely historic. It doesn’t add much to local history that the line demarcating Queen Anne as studied by the Queen Anne Historical Society runs along the middle of Denny Way. As you might suspect though, our line of demarcation is not a random choice. In fact, it separates William Bell’s 1853 land claim from David Denny’s and provides a neat reminder of the day in February 1853 when David’s older brother Arthur and his brother-in-law Carson Boren jockeyed with Doc Maynard for the site of Seattle’s downtown and argued about how to lay out the city. …Continue reading “Almost Nothing Left at First & Denny!”

The Garfield Exchange: Landmark Sold

Posted Nov.  8, 2016: The Garfield Exchange which was designated a city landmark earlier this is year has been sold by the Seattle Public Library for over $3,000,000. Located in a residential neighborhood opposite the Queen Anne Public Library, the building has phenomenal potential.

Property Reuse & Disposition Overview


Posted March 13, 2016: In these times when nearly everyone has constant wireless connection to the world by a smartphone, it is a wonder that some of us recall picking up a phone that had no dial or dial tone and hearing a ‘smiling’ voice on the other end ask, “What number, please?”

From 1883 and Seattle’s first telephones until the 1950s every phone call whether local, national or international began with talking to an operator and asking for a connection. In those days, every phone line was hard-wired to an exchange building where young women facing a long board connected incoming and outgoing phone calls manually.

PT&T switchboard 1902 (WSHS)
PT&T switchboard, 1902 (WSHS)

The earliest of Seattle’s local telephone companies included the Seattle Automatic Telephone Exchange, the Independent Telephone Company, and the Sunset Telephone-Telegraph Company (“Sunset”). Sunset was incorporated in Seattle in March 1883 providing phone service to 71 businesses and 19 residential customers with an installation charge of $25 and monthly service at $7 for businesses and $2.50 for residences. …Continue reading “The Garfield Exchange: Landmark Sold”