WA-List » Seattle Streets: Puget’s Unforgettable Scenery Makes California Jealous

Seattle Streets: Puget’s Unforgettable Scenery Makes California Jealous

Published by Steve Campion. Category: HA! List, Place Names

“Jesus Christ made Seattle under protest.”

No. that’s not a Biblical quote.  It doesn’t even make sense.  The sentence is a six word mnemonic device for remembering streets names in downtown Seattle.  The city’s core has twelve consecutive east-west streets that line up in convenient pairs.  Beginning near Pioneer Square and moving north, a Seattleite crosses Jefferson Street, James Street, Cherry Street, Columbia Street, etc.  The initial letters of those streets accumulate to J J C C M M S S U U P P or — eliminating the duplicates — J C M S U P.

Some imaginative soul many years ago came up with the phrase: Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.* We’ve heard variations. Some people swap “pressure” for “protest” and Julius Caesar for Jesus Christ. Like the original, none of the alternatives express sound theology or anything approaching logic.  But what does logic matter if it jogs your memory about the sequence of a dozen downtown streets?

We’d like to propose a better mnemonic.  As we assembled this WA-List, we were bothered by the backwardness of the Jesus sentence.  We wanted our list to read north-to-south in the same orientation of as most maps.  So we flipped the order and came up with a six word sentence that makes much more sense:

“Puget’s unforgettable scenery makes California jealous.”

It reads down the map, north to south, with no intrusions by religious figures or Roman emperors. It’s a mnemonic that uses the word “unforgettable.” And it’s pure, unvarnished truth.

THE STREETS OF DOWNTOWN SEATTLE

Downtown streets, from north to south Old mnemonic Our suggested mnemonic
Pine Protest Puget’s
Pike    
Union Under Unforgettable
University    
Seneca Seattle Scenery
Spring    
Madison Made Makes
Marion    
Columbia Christ California
Cherry    
James Jesus Jealous
Jefferson    

PHOTOS of street signs taken by Steve Campion, Oct 20, 2013.

*We’re unsure who invented the Jesus mnemonic. The earliest mention we were able to find in print was on page 197 of our tattered 1972 copy of Seattle by Nard Jones. In two sentences Jones tossed out the words as a memory trick he knew from boyhood. The phrase is probably much, much older. We’ll keep looking.

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