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The Seattle Times | Pacific Northwest

Now & Then Paul Dorpat

Stationed On The Ave

Now often called simply "the Ave," University Way was first platted in 1890 as Columbus Avenue. Two years later an electric trolley was laid along its center line to help sell lots in the new neighborhood (then still known as Brooklyn), but also to prepare for the delivery of students when the University of Washington fulfilled its plans to relocate there in 1895.

This postcard view looks north on the Ave to its intersection with Northeast 42nd Street, which the students soon learned to call "University Station" for the waiting shed built on a corner. "The Station," for short, quickly became the center of neighborhood activity, and with the transfer of the old Latona Post Office to the intersection in 1902, Columbus and 42nd had a second reason to be so called.

A dozen businesses crowded to all sides of the intersection in 1905. Three more, including the district's first bank, opened in 1906. By then the Station was also the off-campus stage for fraternity initiation rites. Freshmen were directed to sweep the street in front of any woman crossing it and perform as sidewalk mimes acting out the business being done inside the storefronts. Also in the summer of 1906 the intersection had its own musical accompaniment when the University Station Band played from a pavilion built beside it.

In preparation for the summer-long 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the university campus, a second trolley track was added to Columbus, aka 14th Avenue, and the street was paved with asphalt in the fall of 1908. After the expo, the center of the district's business life jumped north to Northeast 45th.

"Washington Then and Now," the new book by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.