February 27

Just where is Maple Leaf, anyway?



It’s Divine – but is it in Maple Leaf or (gasp) Roosevelt?

Seattle famously is a “city of neighborhoods,” in the words of former Mayor Greg Nickels. It is also, confusingly, a city without defined neighborhoods. Which means people can make them up. For example, where did Green Lake’s “Tangletown” come from? (It’s the old Honey Bear Bakery area.)

Here in Maple Leaf the map the Community Council uses, and the one Maple Leaf Life links to, looks a bit like the outline of a police badge. At the top left it excludes Northgate Mall from Maple Leaf but includes Thornton Place and its great cinemas. At the top right, the Maple Leaf boundary takes a dive down Thornton Creek, and at the bottom a toe reaches south and touches Northeast 75th Street.

That’s quite different from the Maple Leaf map the city posts in its Neighborhood Map Atlas. That one’s more of a solid rectangle, with the top right corner bitten off. On the city map, Northgate Mall is in Maple Leaf.

The bottom of the city map shows a straight line running along Northeast 85th Street – 10 blocks to the north of the Community Council’s bottom line. And the city’s straight line runs right through the center of the Maple Leaf Reservoir! How’s that happen? That means the Maple Leaf Playground is in the Roosevelt neighborhood? And the city has stolen Divine, L.C.’s Kitchen and the Hudson New American Public House from Maple Leaf!

Except it hasn’t. There is no “official” Maple Leaf neighborhood. Seattle does not officially set neighborhood boundaries. Even the city map comes with the disclaimer that it is “not designed or intended as an ‘official’ City of Seattle neighborhood map.”

A reader brought this up in connection with the “F-Bomb Bandit,” who this week robbed a credit union inside the QFC at – where is that QFC? (The one at Roosevelt and Northgate Way.) According to the nonofficial city map, it is right across the street from Maple Leaf.

Where do you think Maple Leaf really is? Is Northgate Mall in our neighborhood? What about the Safeway at Roosevelt Way Northeast and Northeast 75th Street?

About the author 

Sara W

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  1. I approached Council with the idea of requiring DON to fix their neighborhood maps and keep them up to date. I strongly believe it is (or should be) a critical part of outreach for all city departments to hook up with extablished neighborhood orgs when projects are coming to a particular neighborhood. Hard to do that when the City has no idea where the neighborhood boundaries are.As far as “official” is concerned, the boundary map on the Maple Leaf Community Council website (http:/www.MapleLeafCommunity.org) is the official map in terms of the MLCC. It's specified in our bylaws and ratified by our membership (which is, incidentally, open to anyone who lives or owns a business in the neighborhood boundaries).Interestingly, a private map maker (Linda Burlingame and MapScoop.com and BigStickInc.com) got the 2002 Maple Leaf boundaries right — and, it appears, most of the city's neighborhood boundaries — in a map they published in 2002.If they could do it, you think the city could… Maybe Mayor McGinn could make it a priority.

  2. Great question. Neighborhood boundaries are pretty grey in Seattle and they overlap a lot.

    I live in Pinehurst and many folks (including Pinehurst Community Council) see Pinehurst as Northgate Way to the south, I-5 to the west, 130th (or so) to the north and Lake City Way to the east.

    The QFC is usually thought of as being in Pienhurst or Victory Heights and not in Maple Leaf. It is grey, though. And, you all can call bank robbery Maple Leaf if you like!

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