Denny Hill – Maps

People often ask me about Denny Hill, what it looked like and where was it. Below are a series of maps and one photograph that show the location of the hill and some of its topography.

This is one of the earliest known photographs of Denny Hill, showing it after it has been logged somewhat.

denny hill photo 1878Below is the first illustration of the hill. Note how few homes are on the hill. Hard to get a feel for the topography.

Bird's Eye 1878Twelve years later and the hill has been much more developed, especially with the addition of the Denny Hotel and many homes.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 8.17.39 AMProbably the best topographic map of Denny showing the two summits, each about 240 feet above sea level.

1899 topoThe one post regrade map of Denny Hill shows what happened after the regrades lowered the land.

1917 DennyA modern topographic map of Seattle showing the flattened landscape. Note the modern high point at 1st and Virginia.

Modern map


Seattle Map 11 – Heart of Seattle

My wife tells me it’s never too late for Valentines Day, so here goes. I recently came across this nifty map of Seattle, which originally appeared in the Seattle Star newspaper on July 5, 1907. Accompanying it was an article about the northward movement of the city’s commercial district. The map “will give the reader some idea of what sooner or later will be the heart of Seattle. As soon as the Denny Hill will have been lowered to grade great blocks will be erected on the site and that of itself will draw the city to it as well as beyond it.”

heart of seattle mapThe map is curious for several reasons. I suspect that part of the oddities are due to the artist’s hope for what would happen, as well as some good guesses as to the direction the city was headed.

1. Government Canal – In the upper left part of the map, outside of the heart, the artist has included the “Government Canal.” (Sorry it’s hard to read but if you click on the image, you can get a larger version.) Work on what we now call the Lake Washington Ship Canal would not begin until 1911, with an official opening in 1917. In 1907, the existence of the canal was still uncertain. He/she has also drawn in a canal connecting Union Bay and Lake Union, though this 1907 canal is slightly south of the one that was actually built.

2. Dexter Avenue extends south of Denny Way – This extension of Dexter had been talked about for several years, including the possibility of building it as a viaduct, but unlike the canal, it never came to fruition.

3. Third Avenue and Stewart Street – On the northeast corner of the intersection, there is what appears to be the Securities Building, or at least a building of similar size. The Securities didn’t go up until 1913.

4. Denny Hill – It’s hard to tell but it looks as if the artist has already populated Denny with office buildings instead of the houses that still stood on the hill. The first huge regrade of Denny (often called Denny Regrade One even though it was the fourth regrade) wouldn’t start until 1908 and wouldn’t be completed until 1910. Planning was taking place so the map is not completely an artistic fantasy.

5. Westlake Avenue – This must be the one of the first maps to show Westlake Avenue and its south extension across the city street grid. It was only completed in late 1905.

Material for for this story comes out of research I have done for my new book on Seattle – Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography.

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