Sleepless in Duwamps

Ahh, Seattle is a city I hold near and dear to my heart, in part due to its rather calamitous history. It got off to a rather wobbly start when the Denny Party first hit these shores in 1851. They were called the Denny Party because they stopped at Denny’s restaurants all along the Oregon Trail. Alright, that’s not entirely true; they never would have survived. They were led by a chap named Arthur Denny and when they first reached the Pacific Northwest it was raining, surprisingly enough. They scouted around and found lots of wide open space out on Alki Point in West Seattle so set up camp there, rather ambitiously naming their new settlement New York,  perhaps because it worked so well on the other coast they thought they should give it a try over here. It was subsequently renamed New York Alki (Alki means ‘by and by’ or ‘eventually’ in the local Chinook jargon). Whatever they called it, Alki was the original birthplace of Seattle.

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That first winter came and storms huffed and puffed and blew the town down. They rebuilt, repeatedly, but come springtime many of those early settlers decided to abandon Alki for the more enticing mudflats across Elliot Bay where Pioneer Square is today. They called their new town Duwamps in honour of the local Duwamish people and for a while, Duwamps and New York Alki went head to head in a battle for dominance in the area. Duwamps eventually reigned supreme and New York Alki was abandoned.

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On a clear day you can see Duwamps from New York

Meanwhile, a man named Doctor David Swinson “Doc” Maynard arrived from Cleveland and unsurprisingly raised his eyebrows at the choice of name. He was no fool; he knew all too well that Duwamps would be a hard sell to folks back east looking for somewhere to settle. He convinced the good citizens of Duwamps to rename their settlement after the chief of the local Duwamish and Suquamish peoples. The chief’s name was pronounced “Se-Alth” but Seattle proved easier to say and the rest, as they say, was history.

Out on Alki you can still see an echo of its past with a diminutive Statue of Liberty looming large in front of the iconic Space Needle across the bay.

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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35 Responses to Sleepless in Duwamps

  1. Pat says:

    Very interesting, Ailsa. Great photos, and I love your writing and use of humor. Very entertaining.

  2. travtrails says:

    Thanks for the information.history gives depth to a city

    • ailsapm says:

      Seattle’s got plenty of depth, Indra – it’s home to the famed Underground which I’ll probably write about in another post. 🙂

  3. pommepal says:

    Interesting recounting of history Ailsa. I agree Duwamps doesn’t exactually roll off the tongue. Kind of makes me think of damp and swamps…

  4. pippabiker says:

    Every summer I look forward to visiting my youngest sister and her family in Seattle. Thanks for the history lesson!

  5. Pamela says:

    My! you certainly pick up the most interesting information wherever you go – and relay it in very entertaining manner! Makes me want to visit all the places you’ve written about. Ailsa, the intrepid traveller, has made a tourist out of me!

  6. The Rider says:

    Love your way of telling a story!

  7. markd60 says:

    I love to look at Seattle when I visit New York, especially when looking through the haze of Cleveland.

  8. allysonyj says:

    It is also fortunate that they didn’t choose “Squamish” for the name – sounds like Squeamish or Squashy or other slimy soundying words…

  9. Heyjude says:

    Hi Ailsa, I’ve nominated you for The Super Sweet Blogging Award. If you choose to accept, please go here:

  10. loganbruin says:

    Seattle is my fave city in the US, especially after reading Sons of the Profits and the Maynard bio, the ones you can get at the end of the underground tour. The sections on the founding of U Dub and the rivalry with Tacoma–and what happened when you flushed a toilet–are hilarious.

    • ailsapm says:

      No kidding, Logan, the history of this city is a laugh a minute, there were some crazy characters here in the good old days (there are still plenty of crazy characters around today too!)

  11. dreaminofobx says:

    I wish you had authored my history books in high school and college. I think I would have retained a lot more information if it had been presented in your humorous and insightful voice!

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  13. I just visited Seattle two weeks ago, and missed this. Sigh!! Thanks for sharing.

  14. This is on my shortlist of places I want to visit.

  15. Interesting info and really cool shot, Ailsa.

  16. gkm2011 says:

    I haven’t been lucky enough to get to Seattle yet, but your stories really make it come alive as something more than a place to get an IT job or drink a great cup of coffee!

    • ailsapm says:

      It’s one of my favourite US cities, gkm, I love the people, the climate (yes, really), the stunning scenery and of course the coffee. Sleepless and over-caffeinated in Seattle! 🙂

  17. mvschulze says:

    Love your commentary, and you pictures. No surprise there!

  18. I never knew about this “other” Statue of Liberty! What fun!
    Thank you!

  19. I love the Alki area! I have never seen the”other” Statue of Liberty! I’ll have to take a look next time. Great post. Very informative.

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