Crown Hill Neighborhood
Written by Dennis Galvin and Lanna Smithson, Crown Hill Neighborhood Association
“The Crown Hill neighborhood, situated in northern Ballard, was annexed to Seattle in 1954, along with the rest of the lands north of 85th Street up to 145th Street. Crown Hill has a rich and interesting history of settlement. Originally forested, it underwent a number of transformations to become the community it is today. The first settlers in the mid to late 19th Century cleared the land of its original forest. The Crown Hill Cemetery dates to 1902, while the King County Stockade disappeared from Crown Hill in 1913. The gently rolling topography lent itself to agricultural uses with dairy farms and orchards predominating through the 1930′s and into the 1940′s. Many of the original farm houses and orchard trees remain nestled in present day Crown Hill. After World War II, the rural feel gradually succumbed as the farms were subdivided into smaller lots, and homes were built to house waves of new settlers. First were the returning veterans, then the aerospace workers. By the early 1960′s Crown Hill was nearly built out with only occasional lots available for infill development. Newer waves of settlers have included high-tech and bio-tech workers as well. Some descendants of the original, mostly Norwegian farmers and settlers still make Crown Hill their home today. Today’s neighborhood boasts a population of considerably more diverse origins.
The very busy Holman Road bisects Crown Hill, and together with 15th Ave NW form the “Truck Route to Ballard” from points North. Though many Seattlites could not locate Crown Hill on the map, there are few who don’t know where the Dick’s Drive-In on Holman Road has served up burgers, fries, shakes and ice cream since 1960. The businesses of Crown Hill are arrayed along Holman Road, 15th Ave NW and NW 85th St. Swanson’s Nursery is a horticultural treasure of Seattle and the source of many of the plants and trees in the neighborhood today. The Crown Hill Elementary School and Fire Station 35, both built in the early 1920′s are also significant landmarks.
A common complaint of nearly all generations of Crown Hill residents from the early 1900′s to the present day has been the lack of paved infrastructure. Initially the clamor was for paved streets, but after Seattle’s annexation of the lands north of 85th, the need for sidewalks has rung forth many times. For now, the southern border of Crown Hill can still be defined as “where the sidewalk ends.”"
Dennis is a recent immigrant to Crown Hill and lives in a farmhouse built in 1900 on 12th Ave NW. Lanna lives in a Crown Hill house on 14th Ave NW built by her grandfather’s family in 1924.