Tag Archives: seattle history

Who named Beacon Hill?

Robert Ketcherside in the CHS Capitol Hill Seattle blog has a great historical article about the first Broadway streetcar, from the 1890s. Why am I mentioning it here on the Beacon Hill Blog, you ask? Scroll on down to the addendum to the article and you’ll find a discussion about the murky origins of the name of Seattle’s Beacon Hill:

“Someone on Beacon Hill needs to stop freakin’ and figure out who really named Beacon Hill and why.”

Apparently there isn’t any paper trail for the commonly accepted origin story — that M. Harwood Young moved to Beacon Hill from Boston and named it after the famous Boston location. It could be true. But as far as the current sources are concerned, there isn’t really anything concrete.

“At least up here we have a healthy debate about the origin of Capitol Hill,” says Ketcherside. “…Down on Beacon Hill they settle for tacit acceptance of a hole-ridden story.”

Anyone up for a research challenge?

A busy Beacon weekend ahead

Station 13 as it was in 2010. Celebrate its new renovation at a community open house this Saturday. Photo by Jason Simpson.

It’s a busy weekend this week, particularly on Saturday morning. Take your pick from several events, including:


The Seven Hills Seattle and Scandinavian history walk starts on Queen Anne Hill at 9 a.m. and finishes right here on Beacon Hill. Information here.

Fire Station #13 Open House from 11-1 p.m. will celebrate the station’s reopening after renovation. All are welcome. Information here.

Franklin Arts Festival from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m will feature music, art, and food for the whole family. Information here.

Beacon Hill animator Tess Martin’s short, Hula Hoop, will play at SIFF Cinema Uptown at 10 a.m. as part of the Seattle Times and SIFF 3 Minute Masterpiece contest. Admission is free. Information here.


All are invited to a Lewis Park work party to assist in improving the park. These volunteer events are every first and third Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. at the park, 12th Ave S and Golf Dr S. Tools, gloves, water, and refreshments are provided.

A bit later in the day is a cooking demo at El Centro de la Raza with chef Vincent Rivera of Jazz Alley, who will demonstrate how to cook carnitas, pozole, and ceviche. Information here.

And finally, the ROCKiT Community Arts board meeting is Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at the Garden House, 2336 15th Ave. S. The meeting is open to the public.

A walk through seven hills and Seattle history

This 1909 photo shows the Denny Regrade in progress; the regrade is the reason we no longer have a Denny Hill. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

Beacon Hill’s Jose Rizal Park is the grand finale of Saturday’s Seven Hills Walk, a guided 6.5 mile walk through Seattle (and local Scandinavian) history across the city’s seven past and present hills.

The walk is based on a traditional 20-mile hike in Seattle’s sister city of Bergen, Norway. Seattle’s shorter version starts on Queen Anne Hill at the Kerry Park viewpoint, 211 W. Highland Dr. Walkers and history guides will then visit Denny Hill (at least, what remains of it — including Denny Park and the Denny Park Lutheran Church, as well as the former Sons of Norway Hall), Capitol Hill (Cal Anderson Park and Seven Hills Park), Second Hill a.k.a. Renton Hill (Fred Lind Manor, a retirement home which features historical pieces from the old downtown Swedish Baptist Church), First Hill (lunch at Swedish Hospital), Yesler or “Profanity” Hill, and last but not least, Beacon Hill and Rizal Park.

The walk will start at 9 a.m. at Kerry Park and run until about 3 p.m. It is free and all are welcome. Walkers can purchase lunch at Swedish (there is a limited lunch menu) or bring their own lunches. Metro buses will return walkers to Kerry Park; bring a bus pass or money if you wish to ride.

The event is sponsored by the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association and Sound Steps.

Kimball crossing guard a jazz and race-relations pioneer

“…Back in the day, Kimball Elementary’s crossing guard was a fixture in Seattle’s explosive Jackson Street jazz scene. He played with all the legends of Seattle jazz, from Quincy Jones to Ernestine Anderson.” Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times (BHB news partners) wrote a column recently about jazz pianist Kenny Boas, a Beacon Hill neighbor whose past includes hanging out with Ray Charles, playing with famed groups the Savoy Boys and the Bumps Blackwell Band, and crossing the color line—in the reverse direction. The musicians’ unions in Seattle at the time were segregated. Boas quit the white union, and became the first non-minority member of the Negro Musicians’ Union, Local 493.

Until recently, the 85-year-old Boas worked as the crossing guard at Kimball Elementary School on 23rd Avenue South. See a video of Boas playing piano here.