Mercer Island, as its name states, is located on a 5 mile by 2.5 mile island of 4,057 acres in the middle of magnificent Lake Washington. The island is only 2 miles from shore to shore and within easy access of Seattle along the I-90 Bridge. Before the coming of whites, indigenous people believed that the island was inhabited by evil spirits. Local legend had it that each night the island would sink into the lake only to reappear each morning. Human habitation came about when white settlers, like the Mercer brothers, challenged that belief. In the 1900’s C.C. Calkins built the Island’s first ferry landing and hotel. It wasn’t until 1940, that progressive Eastsiders like Miller Freeman and George Lightfoot were successful in getting a bridge built across the lake, that Mercer Island began to boom. Before the bridge was completed, the population was about 1,200. By the time it was incorporated, in 1960, it was at 12,000.
Today there are nearly 22,000 residents living in this residential community. There is a 70 acre business district on the north end of the island which is home to scores of retail, service and professional companies serving the needs of the population. A town center has been developed bringing restaurants and shops and adding a vitality and vibrancy to the city. Apartments, condominiums and senior living units have been added downtown and as well as underground parking and public amenities like courtyards, plazas, public art and expanded landscaping.
Mercer Island High School students have consistently had the top average SAT scores for Washington public high schools and the top overall scores on State standardized tests. The district serves a student population of 4,115. The district’s graduation rate is virtually 100% and its collegiate matriculation rate is about 95%. Bellevue Community College is just up the freeway and so are several excellent four year university options such as Northwest University, Seattle University and the University of Washington.
This delightful island boasts over 35 parks and open space areas of more than 400 acres, trails in excess of 50 miles, as well as numerous great public beaches. Snow skiing and whale watching are within an hour’s drive and just ten minutes away are the symphony, opera, theatre, ballet, exquisite cuisine, superb shopping malls and boutique stores. In addition golf, fishing, boating, waterskiing, swimming, fantastic indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, and all types of sports for children of all ages, are nearby.
Many people come here, put their kids in school, and then remain through retirement because it’s quiet, it’s green and it’s safe. It has the state’s 2nd highest net worth per capita and 3rd highest annual income per capita and property values on the Island reflect that affluence.