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Way Back Whales: The Original Richest People In Seattle

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When you think of "whales" in Seattle, you think of people like Paul Allen and Bill Gates. People who dominate the real estate market and leave a major imprint on the city. But long before either of them were born, there were people who literally left imprints on this city thanks to their money and real estate ventures. These are the people whom we've name streets, buildings, neighborhoods and even whole cities after. They are Seattle's original whales.

Let's take a look around Seattle at the places, businesses and iconic spots left behind by those who started this backwoods, lumber town that became the Emerald City.

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1. UW: Denny Hall - Arthur A. Denny

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Spokane Lane
Seattle, WA 98195

Denny might quite literally be considered the father of Seattle. He was among those who first landed on Alki beach and claimed it as the original Seattle in 1852. He and his wife Mary Ann Boren (sound familiar?) became the first family of this frontier town. Denny Hall on UW's campus is one of many buildings named for him.

2. Seattle Center - D.T. Denny

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305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 684-7200
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Arthur's younger brother was actually the first of their party to set foot on Seattle. He staked a claim to the future site of Seattle Center and in 1853 married fellow pioneer Louisa Boren (Yep, both Dennys married Borens). Denny Way is actually named after him, not his brother.

3. Renton Hill - Capt. William Renton

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East Madison Street & 16th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

A lumber and shipping merchant, he started Port Blakely Mill Company on Bainbridge before becoming a big Seattle real estate land owner. Renton Hill, sometimes called Second Hill, at 16th Avenue and E Madison Street, was once all his. As you guessed, Renton is named for him.

4. Yesler Way Street - H.L. Yesler

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Yesler secured Seattle's future when he created Puget Sound's first steam-powered sawmill in 1852. His sawmill sat at the western end of what is now Yesler Way. He also spent time as Seattle's mayor.

5. Bailey Gatzert Elementary - Bailey Gatzert

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1301 East Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 252-2810

Seattle's first Jewish mayor made his money as general manager of Schwabacher and Co, one of Seattle's earliest hardware and general mercantile stores. Gatzert pier and Gatzert Elementary School are both named for him.

6. Squire Park Neighborhood - Watson C. Squire

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Governor of the Territory of Washington from 1884 to 1887 and a U.S. Senator afterward, Squire made his fortune in Seattle real estate in early part of the 20th century.

7. Miller Playfield - Mary Miller

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330 19th Ave. E
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 684-4753
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The richest woman in Washington at the turn of the 20th century, Miller moved to Seattle from San Francisco after the death of her husband where the effects of her philanthropy are still felt today.

8. Burke-Gilman Trail - Thomas Burke

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A lawyer, railroad builder, and judge, Burke made millions in real estate and the railroad. The rail trail laid down by he and partner Daniel Gilman now make the path for the Burke-Gilman Trail. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is also named for him.

9. Seattle P-I - Leigh S. Hunt

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2601 Elliott Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

In 1886, Hunt moved to Seattle and purchased the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It was the first in a series of investments that included real estate, railroads and banks. Hunts Point, WA is also named for him.

10. Seattle City Light - Jacob Furth

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700 5th Ave; 32nd Fl
Seattle, WA 98104

Seattle City Light. Seattle National Bank. Seattle street cars. Seattle Electric. The Spring Hill Water system. Everything Furth touched seemed to benefit the people of Seattle, not to mention make him boatloads of money.

1. UW: Denny Hall - Arthur A. Denny

Spokane Lane, Seattle, WA 98195

Denny might quite literally be considered the father of Seattle. He was among those who first landed on Alki beach and claimed it as the original Seattle in 1852. He and his wife Mary Ann Boren (sound familiar?) became the first family of this frontier town. Denny Hall on UW's campus is one of many buildings named for him.

Spokane Lane
Seattle, WA 98195

2. Seattle Center - D.T. Denny

305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109

Arthur's younger brother was actually the first of their party to set foot on Seattle. He staked a claim to the future site of Seattle Center and in 1853 married fellow pioneer Louisa Boren (Yep, both Dennys married Borens). Denny Way is actually named after him, not his brother.

305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109

3. Renton Hill - Capt. William Renton

East Madison Street & 16th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

A lumber and shipping merchant, he started Port Blakely Mill Company on Bainbridge before becoming a big Seattle real estate land owner. Renton Hill, sometimes called Second Hill, at 16th Avenue and E Madison Street, was once all his. As you guessed, Renton is named for him.

East Madison Street & 16th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

4. Yesler Way Street - H.L. Yesler

Seattle, WA

Yesler secured Seattle's future when he created Puget Sound's first steam-powered sawmill in 1852. His sawmill sat at the western end of what is now Yesler Way. He also spent time as Seattle's mayor.

5. Bailey Gatzert Elementary - Bailey Gatzert

1301 East Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122

Seattle's first Jewish mayor made his money as general manager of Schwabacher and Co, one of Seattle's earliest hardware and general mercantile stores. Gatzert pier and Gatzert Elementary School are both named for him.

1301 East Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122

6. Squire Park Neighborhood - Watson C. Squire

Seattle, WA 98122

Governor of the Territory of Washington from 1884 to 1887 and a U.S. Senator afterward, Squire made his fortune in Seattle real estate in early part of the 20th century.

7. Miller Playfield - Mary Miller

330 19th Ave. E, Seattle, WA 98122

The richest woman in Washington at the turn of the 20th century, Miller moved to Seattle from San Francisco after the death of her husband where the effects of her philanthropy are still felt today.

330 19th Ave. E
Seattle, WA 98122

8. Burke-Gilman Trail - Thomas Burke

Seattle, WA 98105

A lawyer, railroad builder, and judge, Burke made millions in real estate and the railroad. The rail trail laid down by he and partner Daniel Gilman now make the path for the Burke-Gilman Trail. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is also named for him.

9. Seattle P-I - Leigh S. Hunt

2601 Elliott Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

In 1886, Hunt moved to Seattle and purchased the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It was the first in a series of investments that included real estate, railroads and banks. Hunts Point, WA is also named for him.

2601 Elliott Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

10. Seattle City Light - Jacob Furth

700 5th Ave; 32nd Fl, Seattle, WA 98104

Seattle City Light. Seattle National Bank. Seattle street cars. Seattle Electric. The Spring Hill Water system. Everything Furth touched seemed to benefit the people of Seattle, not to mention make him boatloads of money.

700 5th Ave; 32nd Fl
Seattle, WA 98104