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Alki History – Research Articles and Notes

Bridge The Sound, The Alki-Manchester Ferry (November 11, 2019)

1925 Crosby Ferries cartoon

Advertisement for Crosby Direct Line Ferries, circa 1925

The Alki-Manchester Ferry served cross-sound automobile and passenger traffic from April 12, 1925 until January 13, 1936. The ferry’s Alki dock was located at 3001 Alki Avenue adjacent to the Alki Beach Park. The ferry was a venture of Harry W. Crosby. Crosby operated the ferry for thirteen months before selling it to the Puget Sound Navigation Company operators of the Black Ball Line ferry fleet and service. In the midst of turbulent Great Depression labor strife, the Black Ball Line bought out its cross-sound ferry competitor, Kitsap County Transportation Company, and achieved a monopoly on Seattle and environs ferry service.

The Black Ball Line then eliminated the Alki-Manchester ferry offering. Failure of labor to demand minimum levels of ferry sailings, hence the total availability of work and job security, hastened the Alki ferry’s demise. If the Alki ferry had survived and prospered from Seattle’s growing economy, the Alki neighborhood environmental quality and Alki Beach Park would have become endangered by an expanding dock and automobile traffic, congestion and parking demands. The festive dock opening dedication of April 1925 would have given way to a late twentieth century urban misery.


What’s In A Name? (August 13, 2019)

This paper is about Alki’s street names.  It is the objective of this paper, through the lens of a quintessential local matter, to illustrate something of our history.  In doing so, perhaps, we will recollect an event or cultural curiosity that might have been disca

rded along the way only because it was not part of the story of kings and presidents or grand global innovations but, nevertheless, important to those then present and their experiences.

We name public landmarks and natural and manmade geographical features to honor or to express an aspiration.  Alki street names have a rich history of bestowing honors and expressing aspirations.  Some of these aspirations were simply utilitarian.  In many cases, Alki street names have changed at least twice.  Often, with the passing of time, naming intent is lost.  Intent then must be inferred.  Records are frequently unavailable that may cast light upon street naming rationale and purpose.

How did your Alki street get its name?  To read this research paper, click here for Word or PDF .  PDF is the recommended and fastest download.

If At First You Don’t Succeed . . . .  (January 6, 2019)

Over the three-year period beginning 1904, there were seven attempts to bring municipal (city) governance to Alki.  There were three other attempts to expand municipal government on the Duwamish Peninsula that impacted Alki governance choices.  The governance debate featured conflicts over local autonomy, taxation, service levels, private and municipal utility ownership and liquor licensing.  In the end, resolution of “demon rum” issues would dictate Alki’s municipal governance. 

Particularly significant in the municipal governance saga are two cancelled elections due to judicial intervention.  One cancellation took place the day before the polls were to open.  The second took place less than forty-eight hours prior to when voting was to commence.  Both cancellations were based upon perceived harm to the parties bringing the litigation from an election, per se.  In a third case, the state trial court acquiesced to an agreement not to count the ballots cast in a duly called and conducted election.   Those opposing municipal governance resorted to the courts under questionable circumstances and utilized suspect maneuvers to cancel elections and to summarily dismiss election results.  They acted to prevent the will of the voters from being heard so that they would not have to have their view of the issues tested, on their merits, at the ballot box or within the halls of justice.  Obstruction of elections was favored over issue resolution.

Decisions made in the 1904-07 period resulted in the City of Seattle and the Seattle School District being the primary local government entities of the Duwamish Peninsula as they are today.  The governance decision making road featured repeated returns to the ballot box, corporate interests demanding gerrymandering of prospective government boundaries, and suspected lack of judicial integrity leading to election cancellations. The aid of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to the “annexationists” of Alki and its Peninsula neighbors was instrumental in bringing the area, as part of the City of Seattle, into the Chamber’s ‘Greater Seattle’ vision. 

To read this research paper, click here for Word or PDF .  PDF is the recommended and fastest download.

Game Today! At Alki Point Ball Grounds (3/16/2018 – in honor of opening day 2018)

Alki hosted, in 1891 at Alki Point, a two game match play baseball season.  This would mark the beginning of the emergence of Alki from an agricultural backwater to an integrated and unique urban community in the Seattle region based upon recreation and leisure time activities.  Increasing incomes, available leisure time and a reappraisal of the value of leisure time activities resulting from urbanization and industrialization enabled this transition.  The legacy of this transition provides Alki its unique residential character which persists to this day.

To read this research paper, click here for Word or PDF .  PDF is the recommended and fastest download. 

Navigate to the Town of Alki (10/1/2017)

Abstract: Today, the Town of Alki no longer exists. In its place rests remnants of summer beach cottages, 1950’s and 60’s styled houses and, increasingly, a collection of waterfront multi-million dollar homes, condominiums and penthouses.  The 1850’s Town of Alki promoters, John N. Low, and the brothers Charles C. and Leander Terry failed in their efforts to build a trade and commercial center along the shores of Puget Sound largely because they failed to recognize the natural and physical limitations to trade and exchange of their town site.  Their efforts might have met with more success if they had better observed the settlement and trip patterns of the Native Americans who first occupied Alki and Elliott Bay (then called Duwamish Bay) environs.  The story of the Town of Alki is generally seen as an aside to the story of Seattle’s founding.  As an aside, the story ignores the significant contributions of persons other than the Denny brothers, fails to adequately explore the motivation and character of the pioneer European-American immigrants and dismisses the role played by environmental characteristics, particularly the lack of accessible fresh water supplies and topographical challenges.  The Town of Alki was destined to be deserted.

To read this research paper, click here for Word or PDF .  PDF is the recommended and fastest download.  

Alki Joins the City of West Seattle and Gets A Street Car (5/26/2017)

This paper has been withdrawn.  The subject matter is covered in a new paper entitled “If At First You Don’t Succeed….”.  See above.

Alki’s First Housing Finance Crisis (2/27/2017)

Abstract:  Demonstrating that not all pioneers were virtuous and noble, Noah Kellogg spawned, along with many other misdeeds, Alki’s first housing finance crisis. Kellogg purchased the Charles Terry land claim and site of Seattle’s founding, in 1862, from David (“Doc”) Maynard and then sold the claim, nearly a year later, back to Doc Maynard ‘in lieu of foreclosure’.   In the ensuing years Kellogg engaged in logging, carpentry and liquor sale pursuits, developed a recurring pattern of failure to pay debts, and was an early employee of the Washington Territorial Asylum for the Insane.  In 1874, he married a recent divorcee.  After his wife took ill he left her in the care of her eldest living daughter, never to see his wife again before her 1886 death.  Kellogg meandered about the Pacific Northwest and Southern California arriving in Murray, Idaho in 1884.  In the summer of 1885, Kellogg accidentally discovered a prolific lead and silver mining lode.  This discovery sparked litigation testing the efficacy of community property laws, in the case of marital abandonment, endangering the investment of Kellogg and Simeon Reed, noted Portland, Oregon capitalist, in the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company.  Kellogg died in 1903 with his second wife declaring “Ive never had an hours happiness with Mr Kellogg” and his third wife’s disposition being unknown.

To read this research article in alternative formats, click here for Word or PDF (recommended and fastest download).


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