The civic boosterism and promotion of areas outlying Seattle during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle’s first World’s Fair, prompted a movement of population toward neighboring, rural communities. That year, the development of an exclusive community in the north end for wealthy Seattleites inspired real estate developer Ole Hanson to create a similarly well–designed residential park.
North Seattle Improvement Company
In December of 1909, Hanson and his nephew Alexander Reid formed the North Seattle Improvement Company in order to purchase and develop land along the shores of Lake Washington. Their civil engineer, B.E. Corlett, was instructed to plan the lots to correspond to the contours of the topography and remaining trees. Hanson took the suggestion of Lake Washington steamboat captain Edward Cox, and called the new development Lake Forest Park, derived from Cox’s beloved Lake Forest, Illinois.
According to the first promotional brochure, anyone who could buy a lot was free to build a home, as long as it wasn’t a shack, store, saloon, flat, apartment, or road-house. Both Reid and Hanson themselves lived in Lake Forest Park, with Hanson moving back to Seattle in 1917 to become Mayor of that city the following year.
Lowering of Lake Washington
In 1916, construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal lowered the level of the lake by almost nine feet. Land along the shoreline in Lake Forest Park was exposed and then subdivided into view lots.