Plats filed for Town of Seattle on May 23, 1853.

Plats filed for Town of Seattle on May 23, 1853.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2026

On May 23, 1853, Arthur Denny (1822-1899), Carson Boren (1824-1912), and Dr. David S. Maynard (1808-1873) file the first plats for the Town of Seattle and establish the present-day street grid in Pioneer Square and downtown Seattle.

The platting process did not go smoothly. As Arthur Denny later told the story, “Doc” Maynard came to the planning meeting “stimulated by liquor” and decided “that he was not only monarch of all he surveyed but what Boren and I surveyed as well.” Maynard stubbornly insisted on orienting his streets according to the cardinal points of the compass while Denny and Boren laid theirs out to parallel the shore of Elliott Bay. They agreed to disagree and the result was a permanent tangle of mismatched roads at Yesler Way (then called Mill Street or “Skid Road”) where the divergent grids abut.


Clarence Bagley, History of Seattle (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916); Bagley, History of King County, Washington (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929); Murray Morgan, Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle (New York: Viking Press, 1951).

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