nearly impossible to not spot evidence of Judge John McGilvra’s influence in Madison Park. The most notable
piece would be Madison Street, named after the fourth U. S. president.
McGilvra, the area’s first developer, purchased 420 acres
of land in the area the Duwamish called “Where One Chops.” Twenty-four acres of that land was set aside for the public and became Madison Park. Between 1864 and 1865, McGilvra cut a straight road through the forest from Downtown Seattle to his land at his own expense.
Madison Street, which became a well-traveled road and cable-car route, runs diagonally across Seattle’s traditional north-to-south, east-to-west streets. It is the only direct route in the city between salt water (Puget Sound) and fresh water (Lake Washington).
The street also runs through Madison Valley, which was shaped by the Vashon Glacier. Like the rest of the lakeside neighborhoods, Madrona is formerly Duwamish land. The area was first inhabited by the Hah-Tshu-Ab’sh (or the “Inside People”), otherwise known as the Lake People. These people were Duwamish hunters, gatherers and fishers.
Settlers began exploring Madrona’s hillsides and beaches after Seattle was founded in 1851. In 1889, real estate investors platted the neighborhood’s lakefront as the Cascade Addition, and Madrona became an attraction, with some visitors camped in the park all summer.
Though formerly inhabited by Duwamish peoples, Leschi is named after an Indian chief from the Nisqually nation, near present-day Olympia. Chief Leschi was known to visit the area and became a well-known presence during the 1850s. He was involved in the original Battle of Seattle in 1856 and was hanged — unjustly as it turned out — on Feb. 19, 1858.
The Leschi neighborhood was served by a cable car from Pioneer Square to Lake Washington along Yesler Way.