The hill was originally named Holgate and Hanford Hill after two early settlers, John Holgate and Edward Hanford, who settled in the area in the 1850s and are commemorated to this day by South Holgate and Hanford Streets on North Beacon Hill. A later arrival, Union Army veteran M. Harwood Young, named the hill after the Beacon Hill in his hometown, Boston, Massachusetts. Young built a home at the north end of the hill overlooking Elliott Bay and named Massachusetts Street after his home state.
The construction of a streetcar line that ran from the hill to South Snoqualmie Street made Beacon Hill’s real estate industry boom. Many Italian immigrants inhabited this area to harvest and sell produce to the Seattle markets.
Near Hardwood Young’s original estate, the U.S. Health Service opened a U.S. Marine hospital on the north end of the hill. It opened in 1933 and was responsible for the public health of everyone from servicemen to seamen. Post World War I, the hospital was used to care for injured or disabled veterans. Today, the 16-story building still rests on Beacon Hill, but is now known as the Pacific Medical Center.
Central Seattle’s southernmost neighborhood, Beacon Hill, is comprised of four areas: North Beacon Hill, Mid-Beacon Hill, Holly Park and South Beacon Hill. It’s a neighborhood where professional people and blue collar workers still live side-by-side. Rather than being divisive, the economic diversity of Beacon Hill has brought the residents together, as they strive to keep the feel of the community intact. Still considered an affordable place to buy a home, the houses possess unique character. In North Beacon Hill area, there are nice examples of the Seattle Box style home and quality Craftsman-style bungalows. The Pacific Medical Center, also located in North Beacon Hill, is an Art Deco style building that used to serve as Amazon’s world headquarters and has been a national landmark since 1979. The Seattle Light Rail has a stop at Jefferson Park in Beacon Hill, which has upped neighborhood’s appeal to people who work downtown and commercial developers alike. The distinctive views of the Olympics and Cascades are enjoyed throughout the whole Beacon Hill neighborhood.
Around the Community
Van Asselt Community Center is located on S. Myrtle Street. It offers children and teen programs, drop in sport activities, fitness classes, art classes and other programs to benefit local residents. The facilities, remodeled in 2007, include a gym, dividable multipurpose room, teen room, childcare and kitchen. On the grounds, there is a wading pool, playground equipment and outdoor basketball hoops.
One of the highlights of Beacon Hill is Jefferson Park. Its golf club, which was home course for professional golfer Fred Couples during his teens, is one of Seattle’s few public golf courses. The park itself offers visitors gorgeous views of the Olympic Mountains, downtown Seattle and Puget Sound. Other sports which can be played at the park include lawn bowling, basketball, cricket and tennis. The park also houses a community center, a wading pool and playground. Starting in 2012, a permaculture project called Beacon Food Forest will be housed on a 7 acre plot adjacent to the southwest corner of the park.
The Friends of Cheasty Greenspace at Mt. View (CGMV) have been working since 2008 to clean up this 10 acre section of the Cheasty Greenspace, a 43-acre remnant forest which is stretches from Beacon Hill to Rainer Valley. The group’s goals include trail plans to create trails for recreational hiking and establish pedestrian connections to provide easier access to the lightrail station.
The Beacon Hill Blog, which is maintained by Wendi Dunlap (who also has managed the Beacon Hill email list since 1999) offers timely neighborhood information, neighborhood photos and an events calendar.