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A Neighborhood History

Native American History

The Denny Family

Licton Springs Development & Park

Farming and Related Activities

Seattle-Everett Interurban

Aurora Avenue North

About this History


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Aurora Avenue North

Aurora Avenue North has long been the spine of Licton Springs, but its name and character have changed dramatically. The route began as a rough wagon road, known as the R.F. Morrow Road when it opened in 1901. At first, the route simply ended at the King-Snohomish county line until development in north King County and the interurban brought growth. The road was eventually extended, making a more direct route to Everett than the old Bothell-Everett Highway. Clusters of original buildings show where early businesses developed along Morrow Road, at North 90th, 103rd and 105th streets.

Above, a long-time fixture at 8954 Aurora Ave.N., now the Aurora Grocery (1938 photo). At right, a neighborhood icon at the Aurora Flower Shop, 8808 Aurora Ave. N. (1960's photo)

Flower Shop

In the 1920s-30s, Pacific Highway 1 was constructed along the Morrow Road alignment, part of a national phenomenon of highway building to accommodate the popularity of the automobile. A 1923 article described "The Pacific Highway, the broad stretch of pavement, 700 miles in length at present and 1,600 miles when completed…the forerunner of great highways beyond the conception of the present generation that will mark the nation like a great checkerboard with its mass of highway arteries running in every direction and over which will flow the traffic of the continent." (The Argus, 1923)

Completion of the George Washington Memorial Bridge in 1932 and the Aurora "speedway" through Woodland Park provided a fast link to downtown and made this the region's major north-south highway. The segment north of downtown was officially named Aurora Avenue after the street that it follows in Fremont. Some say the name "Aurora" honored Aurora, Illinois, the hometown of Dr. Edward Kilbourne, a Fremont founder. However, George Cotterill, former city engineer, claimed that the name recognizes it as the highway to the north, toward the aurora borealis.

V Cafe

gas station
Left, the V Cafe, 9505 Aurora Ave.N., a World War II-era business (1943 photo). Above, an early gas station at 9541 Aurora Ave.N. (1938 photo).

Heavy auto- and tourist-oriented development followed throughout the 1930s, and Aurora Avenue became lined with auto-oriented businesses. Gas stations and auto repair shops were among the first, beginning in the 1920s, along with related businesses such as used car dealers and auto wrecking yards. Aurora's heavy traffic and its location outside the city limits also made it a natural place for cafes, taverns and dance halls.

The most distinctive reminder of the early auto era is the motels, originally called "tourist camps" or "auto courts." One of the earliest, the Klose-Inn Motel, founded in 1930, is still operating, updated in appearance but retaining its vintage neon sign. The Sun Hill Motel opened in 1938, and looks much as it always did, with modernized windows and cladding.

After World War II, people used cars for everyday trips as well as vacations, and Aurora became the epitome of the auto culture, with drive-in restaurants such as Burgermaster. Low-density auto camps and small buildings made way for strip malls and large parking lots, transforming the street into a new auto-oriented landscape. Today, the remaining older buildings, motels and icons such as the elephant at the Aurora Flower Shop, are valuable as reminders of Aurora's past.

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