New York Alki

Seattle History: It Began as New York Alki

Few people know that Seattle’s first name was New York Alki ("alki" being a Chinook jargon word for "by and by"). Seattle history speaks volumes today.

Is Urban Growth Right for Seattle and Its Residents?

Living in Seattle, you see first-hand the two sides of a booming and beautiful city. You  appreciate Seattle’s wonderful urban fabric of mostly single family houses. Gorgeous gardens, Craftsman bungalows, quaint neighborhood commercial centers – what’s not to love? Density – with tall buildings, crowded streets, and cut trees, to name a few drawbacks – is largely inconsistent with Seattle’s urban fabric.

But you also appreciate the need for density. A great city – and Seattle is well on its way – simply cannot rely on cars for its transportation needs. Not to mention the environmental harm that cars incur.

Seattle high rise under construction

So which is the “right” answer? It may be helpful to look back at why Seattle exists in the first place. While the character of a city can certainly change, a dominant culture is tough to dislodge. It may be easier to simply acknowledge that culture and accept it.

Seattle’s Original Name speaks Volumes: New York By-and-By

In Seattle, that culture is, quite simply, Pro-Growth. Our founders, the Denny Party, originally named their new town New York Alki (“Alki” being a Chinook Jargon word for “By and By” or “Eventually”). Think of that: Our founders envisioned a day when humble Seattle would rival New York. In other words, from Day 1, Seattle has patterned itself after the biggest, densest – and richest! – city in the U.S.A., New York.

Don’t like tall buildings? Not sure you like density? Hmmm, maybe there’s another city nearby with a culture that’s a better fit for you…

Stuck debating growth with a Seattleite? Remind him of where we started:


New York Alki. Eventually, this humble berg will one day rival the greatest of American cities. New York City. Some day…