Kirkland is situated on the shores of Lake Washington.  Although it was once a blue collar ship building town, it now is commonly known as the ‘Sausalito’ of Washington because of its pedestrian friendly streets, art galleries and many fine restaurants.
Redefined as an upscale townFounded in the 1880s by Peter Kirk with an eye toward an industrial future, this city has earned a reputation as a clean residential area with art galleries, lakeside views, good sailing opportunities and youth sports.Today, this city of about 45,050 residents has earned a reputation as a clean residential area with art galleries, public art, lakeside views, good sailing opportunities and youth sports.
But if the stars had lined up for founder Peter Kirk back in the 1880s, steel would have been a noticeable part of the city’s legacy. The British businessman landed in this area with a dream to turn it into a “Pittsburgh of the West.” He thought the mineral-rich Snoqualmie Pass and ocean shipping would bring him a fortune.
Factories and towering smokestacks, though, never joined the hills and roads east of Lake Washington — thanks to an 1893 stock market tumble. That crash closed his Moss Bay Iron and Steel Works.
Ships did play an important part in the area’s economy. Early on, the east side of Lake Washington was connected to the west by a ferry that plied a route to the streetcar tracks at the eastern foot of Seattle’s Madison Street. The proximity to the lake gave rise to the building of ferries. And during the 1940s, ships were built for the U.S. Navy.
The area also saw the state’s first wool mill start in 1892. Wool milling became an important part of the economy.
Incorporated in 1905 and named after Kirk, the city has grown by annexing other neighborhoods, such as Totem Lake, North Rose Hill and South Juanita. Kirkland now stretches from its Houghton neighborhood bordering Bellevue on the south, to include the Juanita Bay area to the north.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Kirkland threw off its blue-collar image to redefine itself as an upscale beach town with a high median family income and increasingly expensive homes.
Many residents, especially high-tech employees, enjoy the city because it’s near Redmond-based Microsoft Corp. and Seattle.