Alki Point: From a Kerosene Lantern to Lighthouse
A wedge shaped piece of West Seattle stretches into Puget Sound forming the southern boundary of Elliott Bay, the first settlers of which were Duwamish Indians. It was first named New York by Charles Terry who operated a store in that location. The place was later named Alki Point.
In 1868 Hans Martin Hanson and his brother-in-law Knud Olson purchased the 260 acres of land from Dr. David Maynard. The purchase price was $450. Later Hanson and Olson divided the property with Hanson’s portion being the point.
Legend has it that sometime during the 1870s farmer Hanson hung a brass kerosene lantern from a post. He did this in order to mark the dangerous shoals of Alki Point for the mariners of Puget Sound who were increasing in numbers.
In 1887 the Federal Lighthouse Board decided that Alki Point was extremely hazardous to marine traffic and they replaced Hanson’s kerosene lantern with a “post lantern”. “Post lanterns” were used at many locations until a lighthouse could b e built.