Magnolia was part of the Duwamish Tribe’s home ground. Expansion of the West Point Treatment Plant in the early 1990s disclosed First People artifacts going back 4,000 years, some of which came from beyond Puget Sound, indicating this was a trading crossroads. Just as it happened elsewhere in the city, the completion of the Hiram Chittendon Locks in 1916 hastened the end of traditional Duwamish life in Seattle.
Federal surveyors came to Magnolia in 1855.
Henry Smith was Magnolia’s first pioneer. A medical assistant physician out of Ohio, Smith set out West by covered wagon in 1851. Though just 22 years old, the young Mr. Smith was bright, adventurous and full of common sense. For the wagon ride west, he brought with him cholera medicine and is credited for saving many lives. When he arrived in Seattle, he settled in the marshy shoreline called Magnolia and staked a claim of 160 acres between West Barrett and West Armour Streets. The neighborhood’s welcome mat is now called Smith Cove, a park straddling Magnolia Bridge and the boats at Elliott Bay Marina.
Fort Lawton became a permanent U. S. Army post in 1898, which would be named after a war hero killed in action in the Philippines in 1899.
Construction of Fishermen’s Terminal began in 1913 with the aim to provide safe haven for the area’s fishing fleet.