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How Seattleites navigated downtown before GPS

No one knows where it came from, but the people using this mnemonic device knew where they were going.

At some point or another, every Seattleite hears this phrase: Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. But what the heck does that mean? Well, it’s a mnemonic device, the kind of thing someone makes up to remember something. In this case, it’s the sequence of east-west streets that make up the city’s downtown core, from Pioneer Square to Belltown. The first letter of each word represents two streets, going from south to north: Jefferson and James, Cherry and Columbia, Marion and Madison, Spring and Seneca, University and Union, Pike and Pine. The era of mobile phones and digital mapping have made the device less important, but many Seattleites still carry it around in their heads, a remnant from a very different time. In this episode, Mossback explores the mystery about this phrase and attempts to divine its elusive origin.

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How Seattleites navigated downtown before GPS

About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is a senior writer and columnist covering history, politics and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Eric Keto

Eric is a video producer for Cascade Public Media.