Seattle’s intra-city transportation began with a multi-mode system in the 1880′s. A horse-drawn streetcar from downtown connected to a 26 foot steam launch ‘City of Latona’ located where the Center of Wooden Boats currently resides at S. Lake Union. Passengers could ride the steamer around the Lake and stop at all the homesteads and settlements, including Jensen Grove (near Yale St.) where residents could enjoy Jensens’s restaurant, beer hall, dancing and swimming. Seattle first resort !
By 1909, with the opening of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, a small passenger ferry steam launch ‘Maud’ extended tranportation from South Lake Union into Portage Bay with a stop a Brooklyn Street (UW) and around Lake Union with a stop at Latona Street , Gasworks and Fremont.
During prohibition a two hour rowboat taxi service existed from the UW campus around the Portage Bay ‘tolerance zone.’ There was also a gas powered dory to get whiskey from backwoods stills in North Lake Washington and Kirkland. Booze delivered to the Portage Bay sin city businesses. Commerce !
In 1999 Seattle Ferry Service m/v Fremont Avenue received a WUTC ferry permit for a Fremont to S. Lake Union route and provided service for four years during the center for wooden boat show around 4th of July week. The operation ran without state or city subsidizes. Shoreside construction at S. Lake Union and in Fremont caused a halt to the operation. The state WUTC then withdrew the ferry permit because they were not able to continue to collect a tax for the service. Small minds…..Great mistakes !
During the Summer of 2012 the mini ferries m/v Mocha and m/v Espresso carried 1800 passenger trips from S. Lake Union to the UW at Brooklyn St. The trip took 24 minutes, cost $5 each way. This ferry operation ran un-subsidized and was on the edge of breaking even financially. Permitting issues at the UW and the City caused a shut down of the system.
Seattle Ferry Service/Seattle mini-Ferry is looking for public support to restart routes on Lake Union. email Larry@SeattleFerryService.com with comments.