Lake City History Round-Up
Finding Your Way Around Early Lake City
by Vicki Stiles
Lake City’s “Main Street,” Lake City Way N.E., is the corridor around which much of the Lake city community’s identity is focused. Perhaps not surprisingly, the road itself has quite a past. Not only has it not always been exactly where it is today, it has also been known by several other names: Many of us remember when it was called Bothell Way before we got our very own designation of Lake City Way after I-5 was completed. (1) And of course most everyone knows that it is also State Route 522. There may even be a few people who still recall that it was not called Bothell Way until after 1930, but was known as Victory Way, a moniker assigned to it in memory of World War I. But I’m not sure how many would remember it as part of the Primary State Highway Number 2, or that it was part of the Gerhart Erickson Road, named for a Bothell businessman and state legislator who sponsored the Good Roads legislation of 1903. In those days, it was a matter of either mud or dry ruts all the way from Seattle to Bothell. Luck for those with motorized vehicles that throughout the year of 1913, the Erickson Road from Ravenna to Lake Forest Park was surfaced with “Warrenite and asphalt.” And in case you’re interested, the stretch through Lake Forest Park proper to Bothell was paved in brick. (2)
As I said, the road through our little stretch of homeland did not originally take us along today’s well-worn path. In fact, it is a rather convoluted trail, but one that we can still follow today. I have included a skeleton map of the route so that you can make your own journey of discovery. If you’d like to see detailed (copyrighted) maps, we have them at the Shoreline Historical Museum for your viewing pleasure.(3)
Pretend it’s January 10, 1914, and we are among the 100 participants (and 50 cars), members of the Washington State Good Roads Association, who will be driving from Bothell to Seattle as part of the “Bothell Boulevard Blowout” in celebration of the newly opened road. Traveling south, we’ll pass through Lake Forest Park, cross today’s Seattle City Limit at 145th and when we reach the funny left-hand angle/cutoff to what is now called “35th Avenue NE” we’ll take that left. Other than maybe a cow path, there is no road going straight ahead down today’s Lake City Way.
We’ll travel along the scenic road, passing only a few farm-type residences, and passing NE 120th and down a twisty stretch before we finally veer right at one of Seattle’s more strange intersections – the intersection of 35 Ave. NE and 34th Ave. NE.! Yes, 35th and 34th actually cross each other. In reality, part of today’s 35th Ave. NE is actually 34th which is really part of that old highway, and the old road was in no way created in a straight line.
So we’ve taken the right at 34th Ave. NE. The street winds slightly and then straightens out, taking you past Jane Addams which was built in 1949 by the Shoreline School District.(4) At 110th, take a right. Today, Nathan Hale stands before us at the intersection, but in the old days, their property was a dairy, and later a golf course. At 30th Ave NE, take a left. Now we’ll follow the pleasantly winding road and at some point (around 92nd, I think) it gently becomes Ravenna Ave. NE without us hardly realizing it. Through the forest primeval we go, and you may even notice on the right hand side of this long-time road, some very old and nearly rotted away bollards that kept grandpa’s Model T from accidentally veering over the cliff.
Unfortunately, due to a long-ago traffic revision, when we reach 95th we must turn right and drop down to today’s Lake City Way. That’s okay, though, because it’s not too far off from the old route. We’ll take a left onto Lake City Way, and then immediately take a left onto the continuing path of Ravenna Ave. NE. This will become 25th Ave. NE, but if we want to finish the drive the way our friends from the Good Road Association did, we’ll have to follow Ravenna Ave. NE. all the way to Ravenna/Cowen Park! Our current Lake City Way, which cuts across the land in a different direction, eventually dropping down onto Roosevelt Way, was not a paved route until later.
1. The exact date of the change to “Lake City Way” is unknown to your writer, so anyone who has more information about this please comment!
2. Bender, Barbara. 1983 “Growing Up with Lake Forest Park Vol. I” 202-203
3. USGS, 1897; Anderson Maps, 1907; Kroll Maps, 1930
4. Let’s save changing school district boundaries for another Round Up!