The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

November 19, 2009

Is it Northup Way or Northrup Way? Take Your Pick.

Filed under: Bellevue, History, Recycled Newspaper — Brian Lutz @ 11:11 pm

If you asked a newly minted resident of the Eastside what the name of the main east/west street that cuts through the Overlake neighborhood is called, chances are that the first answer you’d get would probably be “Huh?”  If pressed for details, you might get one of two answers:  Either Northup Way or Northrup Way (well OK, you might get a third answer of Northeast 20th Street, which would be correct, but that’s beside the point.)  As you can see from the (slightly blurry) photo above, the correct answer is “Northup” (although the “wrong” spelling seems to be surprisingly common as well,) but with a little bit of digging, it turns out not to be quite that simple.

Bellevue American, September 7 1972 (Click for larger version)

From the September 7th 1972 edition of the Bellevue American, we find out that at one time, the street was offiically known as Northrup Way.  This, it would seem, turned out to be the result of a clerical error somewhere along the way when the street received its name.  Northup way was named for James and Benson Northup, who were early settlers of the Yarrow Bay area of what is was originally Houghton, and later part of Kirkland.  From a site of Northup family geneaology, we learn a bit more about Benson Northup, who was one of the founders of a Seattle newspaper known as the Post (which later merged with the Seattle Intelligencer to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and served on the Seattle City Council for several years during the 1880s.  Unfortunately, little information about the James Northup referred to in the article seems to be available.

Fast forward to 1972, where Barb Keane, a descendent of Benson Northup (most likely a great-granddaughter, but the links on the site don’t seem to go that far) sought to correct the incorrect spelling of the family name that had managed to become the name of what was then Northrup Way.  From the article, it would seem that even among city officials there was debate as to which of the two names was correct, with some preferring the official spelling of the name, and others striving to correct the error.  Although the article seems to hold out little hope of getting the name of Northrup Way corrected to the proper spelling, at some point the street did get returned to the “proper” name, although I do not know when this would have happened.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how you spell it, chances are you would have been right somewhere along the line.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: