History

The area known as Madrona was first platted in 1889 as the Cascade Addition by realtors who had begun to explore the beach lands around the City of Seattle.  The neighborhood was named by John Ayer after the Madrona (arbutus) trees that were seen (although not as prominent as one would think) in the area along the beach.  A year later in 1890, The Randell family, Georg and Emma were the first to settle in Madrona and make it their home.  They did this near what is now 34th Avenue and Union Street at the highest point in the neighborhood.  The “Randell Additions” became the core of Madrona hill properties.  As real estate in the area began to thrive, realtors came across a common problem-the homes were far from town.  Thus, an idea was inspired to create a sales pitch that could be incorporated into a “Sunday Outing”.  J.D. Lowman decided to develop a park on the lakefront where the real estate tour would end.  In 1890, a private electric trolley line was developed.  It began at 34th and Union, then moved north towards Howell and on through a wooded area to Madrona Park.    As tours continued, Lowman’s company continued to develop the park with a boat dock, benches and paths along the shoreline with a number of “rustic shelters”.    Once the park was completed, a contributing party, J.E. Ayer named the park.  By 1892, a boathouse, hotel and refreshment stand were added to the beach, along with a wharf and warehouse with service tracks for fright cars to make sure the trolley remained profitable during weekdays and winter.  Because the trolley was predominately a real estate venture, it was not well built and the concept of “trolley parks” eventually died off.  In 1908, Madrona Park was sold to the city, which included the trolley wharf and warehouse.    In the early 1900’s, working-class homes were built rapidly.  The first “Great Homes” with lake views were built on the top of Madrona on 35th Avenue, which attracted many “old Seattle” families.