Portage Bay was named in 1913 based on the portage across the Montlake Isthmus which was needed to move logs from Union Bay to Lake Union’ before the construction of the Ship Canal. Portage Bay is home to two yacht clubs, the Seattle and the Queen City, and many houseboats, as well as the Northwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Washington's College of Ocean and Fishery Science.
The first ditch connecting Lake Washington's Union Bay and Lake Union's Portage Bay was cut in 1861. A transiting rail line was built for portaging goods between the lakes. This rail line continued in use until 1878. In 1883 a canal was built for floating logs. The Lake Washington Ship Canal project was started in 1911 and completed in 1934.
Cheshiahud was a renowned Duwamish chief and leader of a Duwamish village on Lake Union. Cheshiahud had a cabin and a potato patch at the foot of Shelby Street on Portage Bay as late as 1900. Duwamish people lived in villages along the lake shores and transited the narrow passage through the resource-rich Union Bay marsh. Cheshiahud lived and carved canoes on the shores of Portage Bay for many years.
Roanoke Park is the focal point of the Roanoke Park neighborhood. It is surrounded on three sides by gracious homes and bordered on the south by 10th Avenue E, and the Interstate 5 freeway located two blocks west and from the western culmination of SR 520. The park, like the neighborhood surrounding it, was named to honor the Roanoke Colony, England's first settlement in what became the United States. The City of Seattle acquired the land in 1908 as a picnic, resting, and turnaround spot for hikers and bicyclists using the looping trail through Interlaken Park.
In 2009, part of the neighborhood was designated as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places. The Roanoke Park Historic District is roughly bounded by E Shelby Street on the north, E Roanoke Street on the south, Harvard Avenue E on the west, and 10th Avenue E on the east. It features examples of early twentieth century architectural styles, such as Colonial Revival, Neo-classical Revival, Tudor Revival, Mission/Spanish Revival, English Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, American Foursquare, French Norman Revival, and Italian Renaissance. Some of the houses represent subtypes and combinations of these styles.
Portage Bay-Roanoke-North Capitol Hill - Thumbnail History