Woodland Park Railway begins running in 1890.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 5/16/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3285

In 1890 the Woodland Park Railway street car line starts running from Fremont to Guy Phinney's residence, subdivision, and private park called Woodland.

In early 1889, real estate developer Guy Phinney (1851-1893) purchased a large tract of land west of Green Lake in the wilderness north of Seattle. He had big plans for this tract of land. With about 200 acres of mostly old growth trees, he planned to develop for his family's personal estate -- a mansion, an English park, a ballpark, a bandstand, a small herd of deer, and a menagerie of other animals.

He developed the rest of his land in a flurry. In just four days, beginning May 17, 1889, he took major steps. Phinney, with Daniel Jones and Benjamin F. Day, incorporated a company called Woodland Park Electric Railway. King County commissioners gave permission to construct a streetcar line from the town of Fremont to his estate. And he completed a plat with about 175 lots he called the Woodland Park Addition to the City of Seattle, located north and west of his estate.

Phinney then started laying tracks for the Woodland Park streetcar line that ran north from Fremont along 5th Street and ends at Pine Grove Street which was the entrance to his private park, which he named Woodland Park. Later, 5th Street was renamed Fremont Avenue and Pine Grove Street was renamed N 50th Street. The area would later be called Phinney's Ridge. The two streetcars started running between Fremont and the park in 1890.

The 1893 death of Guy Phinney at the age of 42, and the beginning of a four year depression, destroyed his plans. By about 1899, the Woodland Park street cars stopped running and Nellie Phinney, Guy's widow, sold the private park to the City of Seattle. The tracks remained unused until 1906, when the Seattle Electric Company reestablished the route.



Leslie Blanchard, The Street Railway Era in Seattle: A Chronicle of Six Decades (Forty Fort, PA: Harold E. Cox, 1968), 40; Norman Lawson, "Street Railways in Seattle" (Master's Thesis, University of Washington, 1905), p. 144; The Seattle Times, May 21, 1889, p. 5; Seattle Daily Press, May 21, 1889, p. 5; Walt Crowley and Marie McCaffrey, The Woodland Park Zoo Guide, (Seattle: Woodland Park Zoological Society, 1995); David Hancocks, Woodland Park Zoological Gardens: seventy-fifth anniversary, 1904-1979 (Seattle: The Zoo Foundation of Woodland Park Zoological Gardens, 1979), 3-5.

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