Seattle’s Missing Ghost Hill: Denny Hill Regrade

Seattle City of Seven Hills: In the late 1800′s real estate developers decided to make Seattle be the city of seven hills similar to Rome and there have been varying theories through out the years ever since as to what are those seven hills?  The fact of the matter is Seattle is full of hills and slopes and steep bluffs, so picking just seven will always be a challenge.

We can probably all agree that Queen Anne Hill, Capitol Hill, and First Hill surely qualify, but Magnolia is pretty high up there, too, and no one ever mentions Maple Leaf which to me is very high…  The debate will go on, but one of those hills is lost forever: Denny Hill.  In 1900, the city decided to basically eliminate a whole hill which covered 62 city blocks. They did it in two parts, but literally razed the hill.

Denny HillThis can not be good environmentally, I am thinking and I have to wonder what the area North of Pine Street would look like with a big hill covering it…. Today it is part of Old Belltown and South of the Space Needle.  The landscape would be quite different if the hill was still around!  Here is a view towards Downtown from the South slope of Denny Hill in 1886 (photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives Item # 2869):

Denny Hill height: Look how high that hill must have been!  The removed over 6 million cubic yards of earth to get rid of it!

According to NWDA:

“Before the regrade, Second Avenue rose 190 feet in the twelve blocks between Pioneer Square and Lenora Avenue, causing traffic and transportation problems in the area. The project began by flattening First Avenue between Pine Street and Denny Way. “

190 feet???? So Denny Park would have been pretty high and full of Puget Sound and mountain views back then, but instead is a flat park with huge sweeping views of nothing.  One man wants to change that: Denny Park plan to restore the view given to Seattle’s first park back to the citizens.  It is a little nuts, but he does have a point.

Denny HillWhat the heck was the city of Seattle doing? It was apparently a infrastructure nightmare to have this beautiful hill smack dab in the middle of the city so they just got rid of it and dumped the dirt into Elliot Bay or used it to fill in the soggy streets of Downtown Seattle.  Wow.

Denny Hill would have sloped right down North practically to the Space Needle if it were still here and might not make the needle rise up so obviously although the space needle height is a little over 600 feet.

The Denny Hill regrade was done in two phases.  I found a really cool before and after shot from the second phase which then adds the Space Needle after that to give you an idea.  I am still amazed that they would knock Denny Hill down.  It was so beautiful!

Besides the fact that the city’s first park was basically lowered to flat acerage with no view, one of the truly most amazing things to me about the city’s decision to raze Denny Hill was the loss of Denny Hotel (later called Washington Hotel). Theodore Roosevelt slept in this hotel and they knocked it down to lower the hill.

This picture shows what was left of Denny Hill at the beginning of the second phase of the regrade in 1928 then after the regrade in 1936 and then again after the addition of the Space Needle to Seattle’s skyline in 1964 (Picture Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives item # 28958).

So I went to the SDOT site and found a list of highest elevations in Seattle:

“NAVD88 stands for North American Vertical Datum

High Point above sea level, 6 parcels south of watertower at 35th Ave SW and SW Myrtle Street – 520 feet – NAVD88

Near Bitter Lake, on N 145th St just east of Greenwood Ave – 493 feet – NAVD88

NE 92nd ST and Roosevelt Way NE – 466 feet – NAVD88

Queen Anne Hill, at First Ave N and Lee Street – 456 feet – NAVD88

Highest point in Volunteer Park – 453 feet – NAVD88″

This list is interesting to me – Queen Anne and Capitol Hill seem to dominate here, but I was definitely  right about Maple Leaf – it is in there!  Let us know if you are interested in learning more about a particular Seattle neighborhood history!

Queen Anne Yesteryears Revisited…

Yesterday we visited two sets of great grandparents on Bainbridge Island and I got the chance to talk to my husband’s Grandfather about growing up on Queen Anne.  It is funny because the two houses he grew up in are on the historic registry and his gandfather’s house is also on the historic registry.  Unfortunately,  his “Uncle Joe’s” Queen Anne house hadn’t gotten there yet before the disaster when it was knocked down a few years ago on a long holiday weekend to make way for the new buyer’s “new home”.  Now it is the the site of a planned townhome community (google the JC Black house sometime if you want to hear more about that one).

West Queen Anne Love: I recently wrote a post on Betty Bowen Viewpoint and was completely drawn to a particular house right across the street.  That shouldn’t be too surprising because West Queen Anne is full of gorgeous homes, but this one really brought me in and while I normally would take the time to take a picture of a house so that it looked good on my blog or website, I just snapped a quick photo of this house because I LOVED IT.

I was completely taken in and drawn to this house. I will go ahead and show you the photo I took, but it really doesn’t do the house justice:

It turns out that this very house was my husband’s grandfather’s house when he was 17 and his parents had it built especially for them!  I could not believe it!

The house is something like 6 beds and an unheard of 3 car garage in Queen Anne.  My husband’s great grandfather had it custom built in 1939-1940 and they moved into it when his grandfather was 17 from their home a few blocks over on West Prospect which they had lived in for the first 17 years of his life.  The West Highland house was built for my husband’s great grandfather and mother and the name on the historic registry is the Lyman H & Marion Black Home.

This house on West Highland is only a couple blocks South of my husband’s great great grandfather’s house, the CH Black house on Lee Street which takes up an entire city block. It is also right across the street from Betty Bowen Viewpoint and the West Queen Anne Walls.  In listening to my husband’s grandfather’s stories yesterday, he said his dad used to have a light he would switch on in the 1940s whenever couples were hanging out at the Viewpoint for too long after dark.  He remembers that his parents would always know he came home safely because he would come in and play Moonlight Sonata at the Grand Piano after a fun night out.  He KNEW Betty Bowen!

I had heard the piano story before but it was so amazing to find out that this particular house that I obviously did not photograph for any purpose except that I loved it happened to be the house where all this happened. I also find it amazing that not one, but at least four of their family homes are on the historic registry in family names – even if one other is gone now.

If you are interested in West Queen Anne real estate or other Queen Anne real estate, please feel free to get in touch with me.  Queen Anne has a rich history and I would love to share with you some of my favorite spots!

Wilcox Wall On Queen Anne’s West Slope: Major Part Of Queen Anne Boulevard

The Wilcox Wall is just one of the jewels in the Queen Anne Blvd necklace on the Queen Anne’s West Slope. This amazing piece of Seattle history is such a key feature to this neighborhood and a wonderful place to take a stroll at just over .4 of a mile long.Wilcox Wall Queen Anne

Wilcox Wall:  Originally the Wilcox Wall which was designed by architect Walter Ross Baumes Wilcox (also designed the Arboretum Bridge) was called the1913 Queen Anne Boulevard Retaining Wallaccording to the Museum of History & Industry.  It is also referred to as the West Queen Anne Wallsby some sources, but many more just know it as the Wilcox Wall.  It is interesting because the walls are all interconnected and vary in height from around 4 feet to about 22 feet.  The brickwork and lighting on the Wilcox wall are phenomenal and there are staircases going down to the next street level if you choose or just a flat walk.

Where can you find this beautiful Queen Anne landmark? The Wilcox Wall is on the West stretch of Queen Anne Boulevard.  Queen Anne Boulevard is Queen Anne’s Green Lake Loop and spans many streets for a complete distance of around 3.7 miles.  The Wilcox Wall is just a small portion of that at a little over .4 of a mile as stated above, but it is all scenic Puget Sound views along the way.  Wilcox Wall runs along 8th Place West between W Galer Street to the North and West Highland Drive to the South at Marshall Park (Betty Bowen Viewpoint).

Wilcox Wall Queen AnneQueen Anne View Homes: If you find yourself looking for a Queen Anne home with a Puget Sound View, then chances are you will run into the Wilcox Wall or another part of Queen Anne Boulevard.

West Queen Anne real estate is full of Seattle homes that offer wonderful views from Southwest Queen Anne Hill in most cases!

Queen Anne real estate is amazing!  Let us know if you have questions about Wilcox Wall, Queen Anne Boulevard, or Queen Anne homes – this is one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods and full of rich history.  We would love to share it with you!

Betty Bowen Viewpoint On Queen Anne

Betty Bowen LookoutBetty Bowen Viewpoint or Marshall Park on Queen Anne’s Southwest slopeis a thing of beauty.  Betty Bowen was a patron of the arts in Seattle and supported artists like Morris Graves whom she met as a teenager.  There are some wonderful art installations right here (including an unsigned Morris Graves)for all to enjoy if the view from Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood isn’t enough.

Queen Anne real estate

Beautiful Southwest Queen Anne View Location: This park is located on the very West end of West Highland Drive over looking Seattle’s Puget Sound and at the foot of the South end of the Wilcox Wall.

Queen Anne Seattle Living: Queen Anne real estate:  Are you interested in living in one of Seattle’s oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods?  We are happy to show you some of our favorite spots here!

Rachel’s Playground on West Slope Of Queen Anne In Seattle

Queen Anne Seattle

Queen Anne Living: West Slope:

Soundview Terrace Park on the West Slope of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood is quite amazing and a wonderful hidden gem.  It has a beautiful play area and huge views of Puget Sound – hence the name.   Queen Anne view homes line the streets above it and this park is perched perfectly for all to enjoy and reflect.

A reflective place on Queen Anne:

It is sad, but Soundview Terrace is actually a memorial park dedicated to the memory of six children who lost their lives on the 1/31/2000 Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plane crash.   Rachel was a little girl who was only six when she died. Apparently,  she played here almost every day. It is a wonderful place to really appreciate life and the beauty of Seattle.

Rachel's playground seattle

Where on Queen Anne hill is it?

2500 11th Ave W, Queen Anne, Seattle

Rachels Playground

Rachels Playground

If you are interested in living in this Seattle neighborhood or want more info about the true sense of community here, please feel free to get in touch with me or look at Queen Anne real estate available now.

Queen Anne West Slope Real Estate

Queen Anne West slope real estate is hopping -there are some wonderful homes out there right now and Queen Anne has been selling pretty quickly given that this is the 2009 Seattle real estate market!

West of Queen Anne Ave N all the way over to 10th Ave W and from about Prospect up North to McGraw was where we were focusing today and there are some wonderful choices in the $600,000 to $1,000,000 range. Amazing sweeping Puget Sound views can be had for under a million in this neighborhood, especially if you are willing to put in a little elbow grease fixing the house up to make it perfect.

Queen Anne character: There are a lot of extremely gorgeous tree lined streets with thick sidewalks and walking paths that even Green Lake could envy on a day such as today. The Queen Anne home pictured above is appointed towards the Sound and mountains and perched above the lovely Wilcox Wall high up on on the West slope of Queen Anne.

Queen Anne Real Estate:  Listed Queen Anne homes on the West slope are moving fairly quickly. If you have a nice home that is at least three bedrooms in this ten by ten block area of the West slope of Queen Anne, please let me know!  I have a buyer who really wants to move here and we are seeing everything.  This particular area has a nice mix of easy bus route right Downtown  (bus 1) as well as easy walk to Queen Anne Ave for all the great Upper Queen Anne merchants, plus Trader Joe’s and the library are right here, too!

If you are interested in Queen Anne real estate, please let us know – we are happy to show you some of our favorite spots and homes available for sale in this wonderful Seattle neighborhood.