Photo: Seattle Public Library

Despite popular belief, Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood isn’t named after a notable queen. According to Historylink, the neighborhood actually takes its name from the grand style of the large Victorian mansions that began appearing on its slopes in the 1890s. Many of the ornate homes still stand overlooking Elliott Bay on the highest hill in the city. Here is a look back at how Queen Anne came to be the dynamic neighborhood it is today.

George Kinnear Residence, 819 Queen Anne Avenue – 1951

Photo: Seattle Public Library

Real estate developer George Kinnear moved to Seattle from Illinois in 1878 and launched the transformation of Eden Hill into a residential district. In 1887, he donated 14 acres of land overlooking the Puget Sound from the west side of Queen Anne Hill that is now known as Kinnear Park. His Victorian home, built in 1888, was captured in this photo by Werner Lenggenhager.

David Denny Residence – 1891

Photo: Seattle Public Library

In 1851, members of the Denny Party arrived and began filing claims to the land around Seattle. David Denny, a pioneer sawmill owner, with his wife Louisa Denny and their eight children staked a claim that encompassed what would become Seattle Center, parts of Queen Anne and the Denny Triangle. They built a grand Victorian home and lived there until they lost their wealth when the speculative bubble burst in 1893.

Queen Anne Branch of Seattle Public Library – 1914

Photo: Seattle Public Library

In 1911, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $70,000 to build two branch libraries in Seattle. After a long community disagreement over the best spot to locate the branch, the present site at Fourth Avenue West and West Garfield Street was selected in 1912. Col. Alden Blethen, Queen Anne resident and owner of The Seattle Times, contributed $500 toward the site and the city paid the balance of $6,700. The two-level Queen Anne branch was designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Harlan Thomas and cost $32,667 to build, according to the Seattle Public Library. It opened on New Year’s Day in 1914.

Queen Anne High School – 1952

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

Queen Anne High School opened in 1909. A Beaux Arts-style building with a beautiful view of Seattle at 2nd Avenue North and Galer Street, the school closed in 1981. It was renovated and reopened as an apartment building in 1986.

Dr. Henry A. Smith Residence – 1954

Photo: Seattle Public Library

Henry A. Smith, M.D. was a Seattle physician who developed property on the west slope of the neighborhood of Queen Anne, part of which bears the name Smith Cove. He was best known for his role transcribing Chief Seattle’s famous 1854 speech to the Territorial Governor.

Queen Anne counterbalance – 1934

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

From 1898 until August 10, 1940, streetcars made their way between upper and lower Queen Anne Hill, assisted by a weighting system called a “counterbalance.”

Memorial Stadium – 1957

Photo: Seattle Public Library

Memorial Stadium was built in 1948 in memory of former Seattle high school students killed in World War II. The Seattle School District leased the property to the Century 21 Exposition for the Seattle World’s Fair. The Fair’s opening ceremonies and many large events were held there.

Century 21 aerial view promotional picture – 1961

Photo: Seattle Public Library

The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair displaced homes, schools, apartments, a fire station and whole streets of Queen Anne. When the fair closed after its six month run, the community was left with The Seattle Center, an enduring focal point for cultural and recreational activities.

The Chelsea Apartments – 1979

Photo: Seattle Public Library

The Chelsea Apartments on West Olympic Place were built in 1907 as a hotel to house visiting families. According to the Queen Anne Historical Society, the owner, Charles R. Collins, lived at the Chelsea with his wife and three children. It was designed by Harlan Thomas, who designed the Sorrento Hotel, a family hotel on First Hill, and the Amalfi Apartments on Queen Anne Avenue. The Chelsea was converted into an apartment building in 1917.

Queen Anne Hill, 1987

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

In the 1970s, the United South Slope Residents (USSR) on Queen Anne Hill won their fight with high rise developers and convinced the City Council to downzone the south side of the hill. According the the Queen Anne Historical Society, the 1980s led not only to specific south slope down-zoning but also to widespread zoning changes, including environmental review of various projects.

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