Kirkland Centennial

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Facts About Kirkland

Kirkland: Then and Now

  • British steel tycoon Peter Kirk set out to make his new town the “Pittsburgh of the West."
  • The legacies left behind when the dreams of Peter Kirk’s mill failed are now the sites of historic interest in the town of Kirkland: original homesteads from the pre-Kirk days in the 1870s and 1880s, the brick business buildings built to house the subsidiary businesses that would come to the area because of the steel mill, the Victorian homes built for the steel mill executives and workers, and the Craftsman style bungalows built in the 1910s and 1920s.
  • Kirkland's ship building industry began on the Lake Washington waterfront with the construction of ferries. By 1940, Houghton's Lake Washington Shipyard was building warships for the U.S. Navy; more than 25 were built during World War II on what is now Carillon Point. The location is now home to a luxury hotel and some of the most creative high-tech companies in the region.
  • In the past century many changes have occurred in Kirkland. The locations where shingle mills used to dot the lakeshore are now parks and homes. Where the shipyard used to be is now a hotel/business center with a marina for pleasure boats. Many homes where families were raised are now newer homes to newer families. Some of the buildings in Kirkland's downtown are the same ones that used to greet ferry riders fifty years ago, but today those ferry riders would be amazed to see the amount of condos both above and behind them.


  • Kirkland has since annexed the communities of Juanita, Rose Hill and Totem Lake, among others, making it the 12th largest city in the state of Washington. Over one hundred years ago, Peter Kirk envisioned a city of 50,000 people, which is close to today's population of more than 45,000 people in 13 city neighborhoods.
  • Kirkland recognizes the founding of the city and Peter Kirk’s birthday each February.
  • Kirkland is home to the Seattle Seahawks, the Junior Softball World Series and the Kirkland Kodiaks.
  • The Audubon Society recognizes Juanita Bay Park as one of the area’s best urban wildlife preserves featuring eagles, turtles and beavers, and many other woodland and wetland creatures.
  • The National Volkssporting Association has named Kirkland one of the best walking routes in the country.
  • Kirkland is home to 39 parks, 9 of which are along the waterfront. Twenty-eight sculptures are located throughout the city and there are 5 public docks.
  • Warehouse chain Costco started its headquarters in Kirkland, hence the "Kirkland Signature" store brand.
  • Every year around Thanksgiving, hundreds of otherwise perfectly respectable locals get dressed up in turkey costumes and run up and down the Kirkland’s downtown streets. Visitors are always welcome to participate in this annual spectacle, that benefits Hopelink, appropriately named the Turkey Trot.

Kirkland facts courtesy of Alan J. Stein, Kirkland Heritage Society and