History

A streetcar climbs or descends the Counterbalance. Photo from qahistory.org.

A streetcar climbs or descends the Counterbalance. Photo from qahistory.org.

To early inhabitants of the Puget Sound region, the area now known as Queen Anne was one of seven forested hills overlooking Elliott Bay. In the mid 19th century, the area was referred to as Eden Hill. The first construction in the area occurred at the direction of David and John Denny in 1869, since the population of Seattle was ready to expand from the city center and Belltown.

Providentially encouraging growth to the hill, a severe windstorm in 1875 blew down quite a few trees in the area, which opened up some views from Queen Anne to the city center. This is significant because the area had been visually cut off from the city center by Denny Hill. (Denny Hill was later re-graded and removed between 1897 and 1899).

The George Kinnear House. Photo from qahistory.org.

The George Kinnear House. Photo from qahistory.org.

Before the turn of the century, much of Queen Anne remained as forest land. However, homes began cropping up the south and east slopes of Queen Anne Hill, eventually making it to the top of the hill and expanding northward. The area became known as “Queen Anne Town” in the 1880s, in reference to the Queen Anne style of architecture prevalent on the south slope of the hill – particularly with the iconic George Kinnear mansion that was historically located at 809 Queen Anne Ave. N.

Shortly after the turn of the century, much of Queen Anne’s infrastructure was in place. Plats filled, Queen Anne Boulevard (the major thoroughfare in the neighborhood) was laid out, the Counterbalance streetcar was constructed, neighborhood parks were designed, and even the water and sewer systems were now in place.

The area continued to grow and develop, with a slight hiccup due to the Great Depression through the first half of the 20th Century. Post World War II saw the construction of television towers on the hill, high rise apartment buildings and the construction of smaller homes designed with simpler lines, such as Cape Cod, ranch homes and brick ramblers as the neighborhood’s density increased.

In 1962, Seattle hosted the World’s Fair at the complex now known as the Seattle Center in the lower area of Queen Anne (known as Uptown). The world famous Space Needle was constructed for the event and now of course is a permanent fixture in the landscape of the neighborhood and the skyline of Seattle as a whole. The Pacific Science Center and many other prominent destination spots emerged from Seattle Center after the close of the World’s Fair and today, the area is widely viewed as the most popular gathering place in the city.

These days, most of the Queen Anne architecture for which the neighborhood is named is gone and has been replaced by more modern structures. However, Queen Anne still has a unique mix of architectural stock from nearly every period in the neighborhood’s history. Queen Anne remains known for the great views, its proximity to Downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center, and the quaint shops and restaurants on Queen Anne Avenue.