William Knight becomes first purchaser of the site of Seattle's future Greenwood business district on June 28, 1872.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 3/28/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3146
See Additional Media

On June 28, 1872, William Knight purchases 159 acres from the federal government in what will become a part of the Greenwood retail district of Seattle. The future Greenwood district is located in north Seattle, north of Green Lake. Knight pays $1.25 per acre for the real estate. His purchase includes land that will later be bounded by 80th to 85th streets and 3rd Avenue NW to Aurora Avenue, plus 85th to 90th streets and Greenwood to Fremont avenues. The land northwest of what will be NW 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue N is set aside for school purposes.

Land could not be purchased from the federal government until it was surveyed. On August 7, 1855, the U.S. Office of the Surveyor General contracted with Deputy Surveyor William Strickler and Compassman David Phillips to survey a township designated Township 25 North and Range 3 East. The township boundaries went from Denny Way to 85th Street and from Greenwood Avenue to Puget Sound. The township included the neighborhoods of Ballard, Magnolia, and part of Queen Anne. Strickler hired two chainmen and an axeman to complete the crew.

On August 17, 1855, the crew proceeded north along what would become Greenwood Avenue N starting at N 65th Street. They noted fir and cedar trees from 1.5 to 3.5 feet in diameter. At 76th Street they spotted a dead fir nearly 6 feet in diameter. Upon reaching 85th Street they described the route along this mile as "Land nearly level. [Soil] 2nd rate. Timber -- fir, cedar, hemlock. Undergrowth - Laurel, Fern and willow." They submitted the completed survey on January 11, 1856.


"The Washington Tract Books," Vols. 126 and 127, Record Group 49, Pacific Northwest Region National Archives, Seattle, Washington; Bureau of Land Management, "Cadastral survey field notes and plats for Washington� Townships 25 and 26 North, Range 4 East," University of Washington Microfiche M-3066, Newspapers and Microform, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You