Our Neighborhood’s History
Before the arrival of United States settlers, American Indians resided near Union Bay at a permanent winter settlement. Douglas Fir and other tall trees over 100 years old covered the landscape of Roosevelt and Ravenna neighborhoods.
But, in 1891, settler William Beck set aside land for a park, a familiar park: Ravenna Park. With his wife, he imported plants and built paths and shelters. It was a popular venue. Popular enough that Seattle residents paid 25 cents apiece to visit. The biggest fans paid $5 for an annual pass.
Most notably, Ravenna Park had huge trees. In 1908, the Becks allowed local clubs to help name these infamous trees. The one with the largest girth was named Theodore Roosevelt, after the visiting president.
Where did those trees go?
If you’ve visited Ravenna Park, you’d know there are no longer massive trees to be clearly spotted apart from the rest. In 1911, the park became city property. A few years later, Roosevelt’s namesake tree rotted and was cut down.
Roosevelt’s New Namesake
When Theodore Roosevelt died in 1919, his name was passed on to more than a tree. Citizens remembered him. Beyond his visits, most notably during his Whistle Tour in 1903, his work creating National Parks and other wildlife areas protected our regional landscape. People wanted to honor and remember his impact.
The existing 10th Avenue was renamed Roosevelt Way, and the new high school was given his name. When the Commercial Club ran a naming contest to define the new neighborhood emerging beyond Ravenna, Roosevelt District won.
Beyond the prevalence of Roosevelt’s influence in our neighborhood, Teddy left a legacy of bold action and appreciation for the outdoors that we hope to continue.
But, from an era of traditionalism, we wanted to modernize with a friendlier take on our namesake. So, we’re Theo. Consider it a nickname between good friends.