This striking and rare map tells the story of early urban Seattle, a first phase in the history of the city stretching from its founding in the 1850s up until the eve of the boom times of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush. It was published in Seattle in 1891, just two years after the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. The fire destroyed the city’s central business district, but efforts to rebuild began immediately and the city continued to expand and grow.
The map covers an area north to just above Green Lake, and east to the far side of Lake Washington including Medina and Mercer Island. It includes an explanation of the territorial changes it illustrates: as the city was incorporated on December 2nd, 1869; as it was amended on November 12th, 1875; the annexations of November 28th, 1883, and the annexations of October 1890.
Among the 19th century maps of Seattle we have seen, this one is unusual in how far east it extends, with a particularly interesting depiction of Hunt’s Point. Running up the peninsula, splitting plots of land to either side is a predecessor to today’s Hunt’s Point Rd. Written across is a mysterious reference to ‘Melrose Tracts.’ The Melrose family seem to have been prominent early citizens of Seattle. Melrose Tracts appears to be an early plat of the land that was later vacated. Plats are usually filed when owners want to subdivide a property and vacate certain areas for the public right of way (roads, etc.).
At the tip of Hunt’s Point the map shows a large plot of land attributed to an H.A. Noble. Henry A. Noble was a successful chain link manufacturer in the mid-west. His daughter, Jessie Noble, married Leigh Hunt in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1884. The couple (along with Henry it seems) made their way out west to Seattle shortly afterwards. Hunt and Noble were part of several successful business ventures, including the Great Western Iron and Steel Works, founded in Kirkland. We can assume that he owned the parcel of land shown on the map.
For his part, Hunt never actually lived on Hunt’s Point; Hunt is said to have bought the property so he could cut down trees on it that blocked the view from his home on Yarrow Point. By all accounts he was a gregarious, larger-than-life figure, and was owner and publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1886 to 1894.
Overall, a truly fascinating map for the history of Seattle.