City of Mercer Island & Mercer Island Real Estate

Mercer Island is the most populated island in the United States. Connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, this Seattle suburb offers a lifestyle that is relaxed and water-focused. From its central location to both Seattle and the east side cities, Mercer Island is a commuter’s paradise. The affluent community attracts both retirees and those who just want to escape their faster-paced neighbors. With tight building restrictions, the island has retained much of its charm and new development is sharply regulated to control growth.

Named the Best Place to Live in Washington by Money Magazine, Mercer Island offers residents the ability to live in a safe community while allowing fast access to the urban amenities of Seattle.

Just Listed Mercer Island Real Estate

History

Mercer Island was named after the Mercer family of Seattle. The two Mercer boys loved to row over to the island to fish and hunt. The Native American’s of the area believed that the island was inhabited by evil spirits and so the island was completely deserted when the brothers began to explore the land. The Mercer family was a famous and powerful clan in Virginia and eventually the brothers’ escapades drew the attention of other Seattle residents and lead to the establishment of the first village in 1870.

The first sizable settlement was on the northwest side of the island, East Seattle. In 1889 an entrepreneur named C.C. Calkins built a large, luxury resort, the Calkins Hotel. The hotel was accessible to the neighboring towns by steamboat and the resort attracted the wealthy of the area. Guest included President Benjamin Harrison and other local and national celebrities. The hotel was destroyed in 1908 in a suspicious fire and never reopened, but the island’s reputation as a resort get-away had been established.

In the early part of the 20th Century, the bridges which now connect Mercer Island with the rest of the region were built. The first was the East Channel Bridge in 1928, followed by the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge which is currently the second largest floating bridge in the world, completed in 1940. A second bridge was built in 1989, Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and together these bridges provide residents and visitors an easy way on and off the island.

Things to Do

With its relaxed environment, most residents come to Mercer Island to enjoy the peace and quiet lifestyle it offers. As with other cities in the Pacific Northwest, the best attraction is the beautiful setting itself. Mercer Island has over 475 acres of parks and open space, including 3 public beaches and over 50 miles of hiking trails which wind throughout the island.

Truly a small-town vibe exists on the island and residents have a multitude of ways to get involved in community events and projects.

Arts and Culture

The Mercer Gallery is located at the Mercer Island Community & Event Center and host rotating art exhibits which feature local artist from the island and the surrounding region. Artwork displayed is for sale and a percentage of the proceeds go to support local arts and cultural programs by the Mercer Island Arts Council.

The Mercer Island Arts Council also maintains an impressive outdoor sculpture gallery. The Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery showcases pieces of art which are displayed for a period of at least one year. The goal of the exhibit is to provide a positive art experience which appeals to a broad audience. Many of the pieces are available for sale and the commission work to benefit the Mercer Island Arts Council and local artist foundations.

The community emphasis on the arts includes the commitment of acquiring of high quality public art and the installations can be found all over the island. One initiate which has been very effective is the island’s “One Percent for Art” which calls for money to be set aside from public construction project budgets.

Outdoor Activities

Those who live on Mercer Island value the relaxed lifestyle, mild climate and many parks, open spaces and water access. The island has 475 acres of parks and open spaces. These outdoor venues are perfect for a variety of outdoor activities. There are sports courts, ballfields, boat launch facilities, playground structures, public beaches and open reserves. The island has over 50 miles of trails for walking, hiking and biking across the island.

Mercer Island’s public beaches on Lake Washington are a popular location all year. On sunny days, the beaches and adjacent parks are filled with residents enjoying a picnic, playing games or swimming in the water. Lake Washington has some great fishing and most beaches have fishing docks where the day’s catch can be reeled in. Clarke Beach is located at the south end of Mercer Island and each year on New Year’s Day, crazy residents and visitors participate in the polar bear swim in the cold water.

Mercer Island is a dog-friendly community and furry friends are welcome in most parks. Dogs must be either on a leash or under direct voice control (come immediately when called) to enjoy the park environment. The freedom to allow the dog to run off-leash is unusual and one of the reasons many dog owners come to the island to take their pets on the area’s trails.

Shopping

Mercer Island Town Center is the shopping hub of the island where locals love to come to shop and meet friends and family for an afternoon. Gracious tree-lined streets and exciting new shops are just part of the reason visitors to Mercer Island enjoy lingering in the shopping district. Modern buildings grace the downtown and world-class dining and shopping options draw locals to stay on the island to do their shopping. As with other cities in the Pacific Northwest, there are a variety of specialty boutiques which feature local products, handmade clothing and fresh foods. For major shopping trips, Seattle is a close 15 minutes away and offers every store, market and other urban “big box” options.

Dining and Entertainment

Every year, Mercer Island hosts a summer concert series which bring bands and musical acts from the region to entertain residents and visitors to the island. Mostly Music in the Park is always a popular event for families and music lovers. Each Thursday evening in the summer months, Mercerdale Park comes alive with music and fun. Food trucks and other vendors provide refreshments and local products and specialty items can be purchased from the booths set up in the park. The free event is appropriate for all ages.

Luther Burbank Park, located along the shoreline of Lake Washington is the site of another popular outdoor entertainment option. Shakespeare in the Park brings the classic plays of the English poet to life. With such well-known favorites as “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “King Lear,” guests can enjoy the tragedy and comedy of Shakespeare while enjoying a summer day and picnic on the grass.

Of course Mercer Island offers a tasty selection of local restaurants, pubs and coffee houses and plenty of roaming food trucks. Today’s food trucks are not the “roach coaches” of their predecessors. These food trucks offer seafood, smoky barbeque, street donuts, fried chicken, shaved ice and much more. Always on the go, public beaches and parks are now the best place to get the latest food trends to enjoy.

Schools

The Mercer Island School District serves the needs of the residents on the island. The tradition of excellence is major reason why many families move to the island. Achievement tests for all grades consistently rank among the highest in the state. The district maintains an extraordinary graduation rate of over 95%. The residents of Mercer Island are understandably proud of their public schools and community involvement in academic programs, mentoring and volunteerism is very high. The Mercer Island High School was ranked #7 in Washington State in 2017 and a gold medal high school by US News & World Report.

Mercer Island has 18 preschools to serve its youngest residents and several private schools. The French-American School of Puget Sound is a multilingual Pre-K through 8th grade. Washington State’s only Jewish High School is located on the island, Northwest Yeshiva High School. The Yellow Wood Academy caters to special education which includes a program for customized different learners, special needs and gifted students.

Economy

Other than small business, there is no major corporate headquarters located on the island to provide employment. Most residents find the quick 15 minute commute to Seattle their normal routine. There they have access to large corporations like Microsoft, Nordstrom, Starbucks and Amazon who provide thousands of jobs to the region. Many of the island’s residents work in technology, medical and research fields and find that they can easily find employment in the neighboring cities.

Because of the economic status of residents on the island, many do not travel to an office each day for work. Telecommuting is popular not only with the younger works in the community but also those who maintain a home office. With the Seattle – Tacoma International Airport less than an hour away, residents who use air travel as part of their commute can still enjoy the quieter island lifestyle.

Transportation

Mercer Island is the most populated lake island in the United States. Fortunately, this doesn’t impede the residents from getting to nearby Seattle or Bellevue for work, recreation or fun. I-90 connects the island to the mainland and the Eastside of the region. Most residents use some kind of public transportation both on and off the island. Biking is a quick way to get around town and there is also a park-and-ride station to encourage locals to leave their cars at home.

Mercer Island, Washington Real Estate

Mercer Island is an affluent community known for great schools, beautiful parks and waterfront and a friendly small-town atmosphere. Homes range from modern condos in the urban-like downtown to expansive waterfront properties with stunning views across Lake Washington, private docks and cool water breezes.

Featured Neighborhoods in Mercer Island, Washington

Mercerwood – Mercerwood is a large hillside neighborhood which was one of the first island developments. Many of the homes have retained their mid-century modern architectural style and most have been restored to showcase the original design. The community also contains a selection of contemporary and craftsman-style houses.

Parkwood – Parkwood is an elegantly landscaped neighborhood with large lots, tall trees and graceful homes. The mostly flat streets are great for afternoon walks and each fall the community fills with trick-or-treaters from all over the island.

First Hill – First Hill is a beautiful and historic neighborhood on Mercer Island. Appropriately named, the area is perched on a hill just south of south I-90, making it a popular choice for commuters and providing an expansive view of Lake Washington and the Seattle skyline. The homes in First Hill are highly coveted and while many have been remodeled in the Northwest contemporary style many still retain their original craftsman and mid-century modern design.

Appleton – The exclusive neighborhood of Appleton consists of only 20 homes. The oldest home dates back to 1914 and served as a beach house for wealthy families from outside the area. This historic community was the first settlement on the eastside and can trace its roots back to the Charles Olds family who established a homestead in 1885.

Lakeview Highlands – Lakeview Highlands is a beautiful neighborhood located on the west side of Mercer Island. Lakeview Highlands is home to gracious waterfront homes and the famous Paul Allen estate. The estate includes several homes, a basketball gym, helipad, sculpture garden and many more world-class amenities.

Forest Avenue – Forest Avenue is a waterfront neighborhood located on the west side of the island. From its unique vantage point, homes along the shoreline have expansive views of the skyline of Seattle across Lake Washington. There are two landings in the community, Miller Landing and Forest Landing, where locals can access the water for boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing. The nearby beach is a great place for residents to enjoy an afternoon of swimming.

East Seattle – Mercer Island’s east side is technically called “East Seattle”. Even though it’s within the Seattle Metro area, East Seattle is technically a neighborhood on Mercer Island. Obviously, it’s on the east side of the island typically referred to anything east of W. Mercer Way from Faben Point down along West Mercer Way to Mercer Heights.

Library – The Library neighborhood of Mercer Island is surrounding the, you guessed it, Mercer Island library. Located pretty much in the center of the island just south of Rotary Park is the library district. It encompasses a small residential area between Island Crest Way on the west, 92nd Ave., Southeast on the east, southeast 47th on the south, and Southeast 42nd on the north. This quiet little library community is very typical of Mercer Island meaning that it’s quiet, convenient, and has many positive community features.

Mercerdale – Mercer Island is made up of several smaller neighborhoods, typically identified as the location on the island such as the north end, east and west Mercer, and the South end, however, there are several smaller neighborhoods in amongst all of these major four quadrants of the island. Mercerdale is one of those neighborhoods located on the north end of the island.

Mid Island – Mercer Island’s Mid-island section runs from about SE. 40th St., South to SE. 63rd St. It’s the narrowest part of the island and encompasses the North and South directions of Island Crest Way and W. Mercer Way. Most of the residential neighborhoods are laid out in a gridlike pattern and the Mercer Island school district has its largest school campus located in mid-Island and is home to the high school, the Northwood elementary school, and the administrative offices of the district. The Mercer Island’s library is also located mid-Island and is a very popular community gathering spot.

North End – Mercer Islands North End sits in the middle of Lake Washington linking Bellevue and the east side to Seattle via the I-90 floating Bridge. It encompasses smaller neighborhoods such as Roanoke, McGilvara, Mercer IslandTown, Mercerdale, and Beaumont.