West Seattle scene: No, those Alki road signs weren’t hacked

June 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Know where the corner of Alki and Jersey is? Alki and Arkansas? They’re not on the map, but they seem to be on the books at SDOT. We recorded the sign after Peter sent a photo, writing:

A new sign went up at 57th and Alki last night. It says “Road work ahead Alki Ave SW from Jersey to Arkansas 6-3-14 to 6-4 -14 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Slow and caution.” I can’t figure out what they mean by Jersey and Arkansas. Lived here 20 years and I’ve never seen those street signs.

Our video is from the eastbound side; the westbound sign at Duwamish Head says the same thing. Before assuming it was a hack (stranger things have happened), we looked online; while SW Jersey and SW Arkansas don’t seem to exist in Google Maps or in Bing Maps, we did find them in SDOT’s database, accessible via data.seattle.gov – along with at least one other name that appears to exist on paper only (SW Hampshire). We also found Seattle Municipal Archives photos of a problem with the “Arkansas Street Sewer” in 1962, and going even further back, “Jersey Street Sewer” photos from 1922 – including this one that also mentions an address in the 1300 block of Alki.

As for the practical question – so where IS this impending road work? – “no parking” signs for those dates can be found in the 1200 block of Alki SW, though the explanatory one-sheet we found taped to one sign mentions the 1500 block. Regarding what the crews will be doing, we hope to find out from SDOT tomorrow, since it’s not on the weekly Construction Lookahead.

11:04 PM: Greg points out in a comment that a century-old atlas does show these streets (and others either never built, or built over – including Rhode Island and Mexico).

12 Comments

  1. I don’t know if it’s the case with these streets but I know in Ballard the City imposed numerical street names over some streets to keep the grid consistent. For instance “Ship Street” became 64th or 65th street (I can’t remember) but there is still an engraving in the sidewalk that says “Ship Street”

    So perhaps Arkansas and Jersey streets became numbered instead?

    Comment by Betsy — 4:09 pm June 1, 2014 #

  2. Very odd, and not very helpful. I think that (almost) all the road names in West Seattle were renamed when it joined Seattle – here is a map of the original names: http://www.bigmapblog.com/2011/territorial-growth-of-seattle-1891/
    .
    No Jersey or Arkansas streets on that map, either.

    Comment by Moose2 — 4:28 pm June 1, 2014 #

  3. Thanks, Moose2. I found one of those ancient maps and almost included it but feared it would confuse things further – discussion, however, is a great place for it.

    Comment by WSB — 4:59 pm June 1, 2014 #

  4. The flyers say they are paving. They did a few blocks last year, looks like they are dividing up the Avenue to finish in four days (two days for one stretch and two days for the next)

    Comment by pamela — 6:07 pm June 1, 2014 #

  5. video? what video? All I see is a huge white space. Is it a video of a polar bear in a blizzard in Jersey?

    Comment by metrognome — 6:38 pm June 1, 2014 #

  6. Check your Flash settings. (Or follow this link to see it on the Instagram site: http://instagram.com/p/otxoa7Se87 )

    Comment by WSB — 6:41 pm June 1, 2014 #

  7. I would think this would be obvious, but signs giving warnings about non-existent streets are hardly helpful. Thanks for the warning, SDOT, I guess.

    Comment by Illexsquid (aka Peter) — 7:12 pm June 1, 2014 #

  8. These streets appear on Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Seattle from 1912. Paul Dorpat digitized his copy of the atlas and generously put it online: http://pauldorpat.com/2010/11/17/introduction-to-the-gift-1912-baist-map/
    .
    The specific map for the area of West Seattle in question is plate #27: http://www.edge-archive.com/maps/baist/Plates/27.pdf
    .
    Both Arkansas & Jersey appear in the sub plan inset in the upper left corner, not far south of Anchor (Luna) Park.

    Comment by Greg — 10:04 pm June 1, 2014 #

  9. Thanks, Greg! Streets never built. I’ll have to compare to the Parcel Viewer to see if city right-of-way remains. Hampshire is on there, as is Rhode Island, Mexico … wow.

    Comment by WSB — 11:03 pm June 1, 2014 #

  10. I wonder if when Luna Park, the Amusement Park, was eventually burned down if they took away those streets

    Comment by Celeste17 — 12:31 am June 2, 2014 #

  11. But – what if they do exist, but are supposed to be kept secret?
    .
    I keep thinking of something like Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, or platform 9 3/4.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 6:38 am June 2, 2014 #

  12. More brilliance from @seattledot

    Comment by Mark — 7:17 am June 2, 2014 #

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