Seattle Maps

While researching, I run across historic Seattle maps showing our fair city in the early years.  No I-5. No Viaduct. No roads at all in some areas. Maps provide us with a unique view into the past and are a resource to help us learn about a place at a particular point in time.  A word of caution… maps are not always accurate.  Due to the time it took to create many early maps, map makers would often include future data.  For example the Baist Map of 1905 shows the Government Ship Canal completed, but we know it was not finished until years later.  This David Ramsey Historical Collection map from 1890 inaccurately lists the street names in what would become the West Woodland Neighborhood.  Perhaps the maker anticipated our area would be annexed into the City of Ballard, an incorrect prediction as we became residents of the City of Seattle in the annexation of 1891.  Use maps as one research tool and confirm the data with city directories, property records, and tax documents.

Here are a few of my favorites.

McKee’s Correct Road Map of Seattle:  This map, dated 1894, is a fantastic look back at Seattle’s rural roots, especially the West Woodland Neighborhood.  I highlighted several points of interest on the map, including three black dots circled in red. These dots represent the only buildings present on NW 60th Street at that time.

McKee's map of 1894

On the left, the first dot closest to the city limits (8th Ave NW) was the home of Rasmus Peter Jensen, the first white settler to homestead our area. Jensen built his farm house in 1889, the same year Washington became a state.  This photo of the Jensen Homestead courtesy MOHAI.

Moving right, the second dot is at 5th Ave NW.  The 1910 photo of Woodland Hall shows the Woodland Meat Market in the background.  If you are familiar with the intersection, you can see that the market is in the middle of what would become 5th Ave NW.  I suspect the the meat market is the dot on the map and will update this post once confirmed.  This photo of the Woodland Hall courtesy MOHAI.

The third and final dot shows the second Jensen residence, built in 1893, at 404 NW 60th Street (see photo below).  Seattle Historical Society records show that Robert P. Jensen lived in this home in 1904 and Rasmus Peter Jensen moved next door to 405 NW 60th street, which no longer exists.  Once I find out why Rasmus Peter Jensen moved I will update this post. The photo includes Rasmus Peter Jensen and his wife Marie standing in the homes original doorway (facing 4th Ave NW), which was later moved to face NW 60th Street.   Photo courtesy MOHAI.

Jensen residence

Other maps to check out:

Burke Museum’s Waterline Map:  This map is a rendering of the Seattle area in the mid-19th century, just prior to non-Native settlement, created using photorealistic aerial views collaged with hand painting.  Interesting to see how we have changed the shorelines.

Seattle Annexation Maps: Seattle grew enormously through annexation, and between 1905 and 1910 several small towns were annexed nearly doubling the physical area of the City. This map is interactive and you can read the actual ordinances written by the city as well.

Baist’s Map 1905: What’s not to love about this map. Tour the neighborhood, find your home (or parcel your home would be located on) and count how many stables were in our neighborhood. Lots of cows & horses!

As always, I would love to hear what you find. It is always great to hear from you and see what gems you are able to uncover during your research. Enjoy!!


2 thoughts on “Seattle Maps

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve been worrying over the Baist 1905 map. I’m working with a group of historians on documenting and commemorating the centennial of the ship canal. Find us on Facebook: Making the Cut.

    Liked by 1 person

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