Kirkland, Washington has a rich history that has built up around the waters of Lake Washington. While the lake drew steel workers in the late 1800s, it is now a coveted place to buy a beautiful home. Read more about the rich history of Kirkland, and why it still is one of the best places in the country to live. Bryan Loveless would love to share with buyers his knowledge and passion for this magnificent area, and help them find their dream home. If you are moving to the Seattle area, or have always dreamed of a home on Lake Washington, discover the history of Kirkland, and what this great city is like today.

Early Days of Lake Washington

The environment surrounding Lake Washington drew early people to settle there, and they were known as the hah-choo-AHBSH, or “People of the Large Lake.” The abundance of plants and wildlife around the lake made it a great place to live, hunt, and forage. Salmonberries, fiddlehead ferns, skunk cabbage, thimbleberries, salal, raspberries, blackberries, serviceberries, strawberries, huckleberries, and wapato (“Indian potatoes”) were among the many kinds of plants and berries that could be found growing in this rich area. Salmon returned every year to be caught in nearby streams, and crayfish, freshwater mussels, and other shellfish were bountiful. The hunting was good, and elk and deer grazed on the nearby grasslands, and ducks, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, otter, and bear could also be found. Drying fish and meat allowed for a hearty food supply in the winter, and pemmican combined dried meat and berries to make for a portable, sustaining food. The beauty and abundance of this area continues to today, and many of these animals and plants are still found around the shores of Lake Washington.

Peter Kirk

Peter Kirk was a wealthy English steel tycoon who came to the Northwest looking for new development opportunities. He wanted to develop an area to be the “Pittsburgh of the West”, and eyed Lake Washington as the perfect location. The Moss Bay Iron and Steel Works was built in 1880 with the hopes of tapping the rich mineral resources of the nearby Snoqualmie Pass, and the thought was that a ship canal would be cut through Seattle to Puget Sound. This would open Lake Washington to Pacific Rim trade, but the stock market crash of 1893 closed the mill before it produced any steel.

Growth of Kirkland

Even though the mill never became a reality, the town of Kirkland was still established with the original homesteads, brick business buildings built in hopes of the town’s boom, and the Victorian homes that were built for steel mill executives. 1905 saw the town incorporate with a population of 400, and many Craftsman style bungalows were built in the area around this time. Although steel never boomed in Kirkland, wool milling and ship building both became prominent industries. The wool mill in Kirkland produced wool products for both the U.S. military during World War I and the Alaska Gold Rush. The shipyards of Kirkland built most of the boats on Lake Washington for almost 20 years, and in 1917 a ship canal opened the lake to ocean-going vessels. In the 1940s the Lake Washington Shipyard was building warships for the Navy on what is now Carillon Point.


Kirkland became known as a bedroom community for Seattle, and was called the “Hub of the Eastside.” The ferry landing in Kirkland was extremely popular, and allowed residents to travel to Seattle in just over 30 minutes. The early residents in Kirkland worked in Seattle, but kept small farms back home; animals and berry vines still thrived there. In 1968, the adjacent town of Houghton elected to merge with Kirkland, and in 2005 Kirkland celebrated its centennial anniversary. While it didn’t become the steel mecca that Peter Kirk envisioned, the beauty and accessibility of this city made it a popular place for families, commuters, and people wanting to enjoy the splendor of the Northwest.

Kirkland Today

Today, Kirkland is a thriving city with a population of more than 80,000. People move to Kirkland because of the great schools, great jobs, close proximity to Seattle, and its own, unique, lively downtown. And, of course, because of the beauty of Lake Washington, and the perks that come from living near beaches, and playing on the water. Waterfront parks make up a quarter of Kirkland’s total square miles, and offer space for both kids and adults to enjoy the scenery and the water. Kirkland has managed to keep a community feel as it has grown, and there are many events that bring everyone together. If a vibrant community in a beautiful setting is where you would like to settle down, Kirkland is a great choice!

Buying a Home in Kirkland

If you have decided on Kirkland as the location for buying a new home, Bryan Loveless and Associates would love to become your trusted realtors! We have the experience in this area to truly find your dream home, and we specialize in luxury, waterfront homes. If you have always dreamed of living on the water, enjoying the spectacular views and the recreation, Kirkland has many waterfront homes that are each unique. Our convenient property search allows you to search by neighborhood, or even by only those properties that are truly waterfront. Let Bryan Loveless share his passion for the Kirkland with you, and help you find a home that captures the pristine beauty and vibrancy of this area.