The Grid: Rucker Avenue named for Everett’s first family

  • By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer
  • Sunday, August 19, 2012 5:38pm
  • LifeEverett

They were the family that stayed.

In the downtown core, many streets bear the names of Everett’s founding fathers. There was an actual Colby, a real-live Hoyt, even a Wetmore.

Today, most of their streets seem borderline ironic, since each nods to an East Coast millionaire — men who considered Everett an investment, not a home.

But one block bucks that trend: Rucker Avenue. That street is a tribute to one of Everett’s oldest families.

The Ruckers arrived in 1889, the year Washington became a state and three years before Everett’s founding. They bought a large chunk of land, hoping to start a modest community called Port Gardner, according to David Dilgard, historian with the Everett Public Library.

Then the wealthy men from the East Coast heard a railroad was coming to that very same spot. They hoped the spot would become an international shipping hub. The wealthy men wanted to build a city there.

And so the Ruckers, owners of much of the land, became wealthy themselves.

A silver panic struck in 1893, the year after Everett was founded, and within a few years, the East Coast money men cut their ties to Everett. They figured they had made a bad bet, c’est la vie.

But not the Ruckers. No, they doubled down.

They built a mansion on a ridge just southwest of downtown — it’s now called Rucker Hill. They opened a sawmill at Lake Stevens. They got into banking.

“They did all right,” Dilgard said.

So did the street that bears their name.

North of the downtown core, Rucker Avenue lays claim to some of the city’s finest and oldest homes.

Downtown, the block became a grabbag of commercial business.

Some, like the glass and glazing firm Goldfinch Brothers, Inc., founded in 1892, have endured for 120 years. The family-run business currently counts a sixth generation among its Rucker Avenue employees. Others — battery shops, logging supply stores, car lots — have faded away or moved elsewhere.

Today, the street looks like a lot of Everett. It has a pub and a coffee shop, a climbing gym and a regular gym, a few car service shops, a few apartments.

It’s an odd assortment that, together, somehow all seems at home.

Fitting for a street named after the people who called Everett home.

Andy Rathbun: arathbun@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3479

Rucker Avenue facts

• Named after the Rucker family, who arrived in the area three years before Everett’s founding.

• Was the first street in Everett to have a brick office building.

• Is the second-busiest north-south thoroughfare in downtown Everett, behind Broadway Avenue, with about 6,000 drivers on it every day.

Fun with mnemonics!

Every Monday, we’ll profile a downtown Everett street, as we challenge readers to come up with a mnemonic device to remember their order: Broadway, Lombard, Oakes, Rockefeller, Wetmore, Colby, Hoyt, Rucker and Grand. Reader Steve Goodman suggests: “Britain’s London Olympics really were colorful, happy, royal games.” Send your ideas to Andy Rathbun at arathbun@heraldnet.com or call him at 425-339-3479. Top ideas will win a prize.

Read past entries in this series at www.heraldnet.com/thegrid.

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