The birthplace of Starbucks, Boeing, and the gas station as we know it, Seattle’s influence is disproportionately large for a city of its size. Examine the Emerald City’s individual neighborhoods, and you’ll find that different pockets of Seattle have distinct and fascinating characteristics, histories, and even personalities. Today, we explore Wallingford.
Wallingford has no official boundaries
If you’ve lived in Seattle for a while, it will probably come as no surprise to you that Wallingford has no official boundaries. None of the city’s neighborhoods have since 1910. With the core of Wallingford sandwiched between lakes to the north and south and major thoroughfares to the east and west, the neighborhood seems almost to have natural boundaries.
The neighborhood was once one giant estate
Local landowner and real estate speculator John Noble Wallingford, Jr. once owned nearly all of present-day Wallingford (and much of neighboring Green Lake). Wallingford’s commercial development began a few years before John Wallingford Jr.’s death in 1913, but large-scale residential development came later.
Wallingford was once a streetcar suburb
Wallingford’s first streetcar tracks were laid in the early 1900s, when the Wallingford estate still constituted virtually all of the neighborhood. The neighborhood subsequently grew up around its streetcar tracks, with commercial development concentrated along the tracks and residential bungalows and box houses covering most of the neighborhood’s area. Few Seattleites would describe the north Seattle neighborhood as a suburb today, but it has all the characteristics of one.
The Roaring Twenties were boom time in Wallingford
The neighborhood is undergoing something of a boom right now, but its first and greatest heyday was in the 1920s. The neighborhood quickly grew from a sparsely settled farming community to a hub of commercial activity. By 1925, Wallingford’s commercial area contained virtually every modern service: drug store, beauty salon, cleaner, bakery, tavern, cobbler, grocer, and merchant market. The Seattle Times profiled the neighborhood that year, calling it “one of the most active and important component parts of the city of Seattle.”
Gas Works Park was not always a park
Gas Works Park is one of Seattle’s most beloved and family-friendly green spaces. It’s also something of an archaeological site, home to the remnants of one of the most prolific gasification plants in the nation’s history. The park is just a walk from the new luxury apartments at AMLI Wallingford.
The Guild 45th Theatre has been awesome for a long time
The masterfully restored Guild 45th Theatre, originally built in 1919, is one of Wallingford’s most prominent and historic structures. The theater screened some of the first “talkies” in Seattle. It was also one of the first Seattle theaters to pick up foreign films and has served as the site of live Wallingford Jackpot drawings. Seattleites who frequent the theater today appreciate it for its liquor license.
The Good Shepherd Center was once an all-girls school
Today, The Good Shepherd Center is a community space operated by Historic Seattle. When it was first built, the center was a Roman Catholic school for young women.
Wallingford’s QFC has deep grocery roots
The QFC at 45th Street N. and Wallingford Ave. is the go-to grocery store for many Wallingford residents. But those in the neighborhood have done their grocery shopping at the same intersection long before it arrived 20 years ago. Butcher Frank Wald opened Wald’s Market at this intersection in 1948. In 1950, Wald expanded his operations and the grocery took on the name Wald’s Foodland. Six years later, the shop’s name was changed to Food Giant. The giant block-letter signs that read F-O-O-D G-I-A-N-T were a fixture of the neighborhood for four decades before QFC arrived.
The original Dick’s Drive-In is here
Seven blocks east of the QFC sits the original Dick’s Drive-In, open since January 1954. Burgers cost more than 19 cents nowadays, but the burger joint has retained its iconic signage and drive-in facade.
Wallingford looks much different today than it did 100 years ago, but the highly walkable neighborhood is just as happening as it was in the 1920s. A slew of fantastic restaurants, great nightlife hangouts, and remnants of a rich past make Wallingford apartments especially popular among young professionals and University of Washington students.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Joe Mabel