South Park

Mayors:
S.J. Bevan 1902-1903
G.C. Lingenfelter 1903-1905
A.G. Breidenstein 1906-1907

Although the land in what is now South Park was first settled in the 1850s, the town was not platted until 1889. A post office opened in 1892, and South Park officially incorporated in 1902. The town was bounded by the Duwamish River on the east and north, 1st Avenue South on the west, and Roxbury Street on the south.

The Grant Street Electric Railway provided trolley service to Seattle, with trains crossing a wooden drawbridge over the Duwamish. Most local industry centered on nearby Georgetown, so South Park retained a more rural character, home to many Japanese and Italian farmers who sold their produce at the Pike Place Market. Newell's Mill was the largest industry in town.

South Park Brickyard

Although South Park was fairly rural, there were a few industrial ventures in town. This 1896 photo shows John McAllister's brickyards. Museum of History & Industry, SHS8413

The lack of a safe water supply was the biggest issue facing the town. The town council explored the possibility of getting its water from Georgetown (which had mains that ran through South Park) or from nearby farms, but none of these plans turned out to be viable. An independent water company's supply ended up being contaminated by sewage. The continuing water woes, along with difficulty in securing electrical service, were large factors in the decision to petition for annexation. As the town continued to grow, it was clear these problems would only become more acute.

South Park citizens voted 131 to 59 for annexation to Seattle on March 23, 1907. On May 3 of that year, South Park's 0.87 square miles and 1500 residents became part of the City of Seattle.

 Shinto Shrine  Cushman House
The Konkodo Shinto Shrine building was located at 1437 S. Donovan Street in South Park. The town had a significant Japanese population, many of whom were farmers. The Wing Luke Asian Museum, 1993.073.027

Charles and Clara Cushman built a home on Cloverdale Street in South Park in 1893. They ran a general store-type business on their property, selling live birds, eggs, tools, and many other goods. Log House Museum/Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 2006.39.10

 South Park School  Grant Street Electric Railway
South Park School opened around 1902, and became part of the Seattle School District at annexation in 1907. A slough near the school often contained schoolboys afloat on small rafts whose instability frequently caused the boys to arrive at school in wet clothing. Museum of History & Industry, SHS15438

The Grant Street Electric Railway traveled over the Duwamish River to South Park on this wooden drawbridge. For South Park residents, the trolley provided a convenient way to travel to Seattle to shop or to sell produce at Pike Place Market. This photo was taken around 1891. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, La Roche 160

 

 Water Petition  South Park Annexation Petition

 Italian Gardeners

Italian Gardeners

 Electricity
South Park citizens became more and more concerned about the lack of a safe water supply as the town continued to grow. In this petition, residents "demand immediate action toward providing a supply of city water." Box 3, Folder 11, Town of South Park City Clerk's Files (Record Series 9174-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


Annexation was a popular idea in South Park, with the final vote going more than two to one in favor of joining Seattle. This petition was the first step to getting the issue on the ballot. Many more signatures were attached on subsequent pages. Box 3, Folder 6, Town of South Park City Clerk's Files (Record Series 9174-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


Although South Park was a fairly rural community, conflicts between farmers and other residents still arose. This petitioner complains about "Italian gardeners dumping manure on Pacific Avenue." Box 2, Folder 5, Town of South Park City Clerk's Files (Record Series 9174-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives


Water wasn't the only hard-to-get utility in South Park. The town also tried unsuccessfully to acquire electric service. The Seattle-Tacoma Power Company was one of the companies that did not find providing power to South Park economically feasible. Box 2, Folder 8, Town of South Park City Clerk's Files (Record Series 9174-03),
Seattle Municipal Archives