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Mercer Island is one of the Seattle region's most-revered locales. Situated in the middle of Lake Washington and connected to Seattle and Bellevue by the I-90 floating bridges, this urban oasis maintains an identity all its own. Multi-million dollar waterfront homes dot the miles of shoreline around the island, while upscale homes dominate the inland neighborhoods. Mercer Island's public school district is regularly ranked as one of the best in the state, and its residents have a fierce loyalty to their local schools. The north end of Mercer Island has a retail/shopping/dining district with a handful of condo buildings, while most of the island is heavily wooded, quiet, and residential.
Mercer Island, Washington
Mercer Island is a city in King County, Washington, United States, located on an island of the same name in the southern portion of Lake Washington. Mercer Island is in the Seattle Metropolitan Area, with Seattle to its west and Bellevue to its east.
Mercer Island is connected to the mainland on both sides by bridges carrying Interstate 90. The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and the parallel Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge are floating bridges that span Lake Washington and carry, respectively, eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 90 and connect Mercer Island to the northern portion of Seattle's South End. I-90 traverses the northern portion of Mercer Island and is then carried from the island to Bellevue over the East Channel of Lake Washington by the East Channel Bridge. Mercer Island is located closer to Bellevue than it is to Seattle, and is therefore often considered to be part of King County's Eastside.
The population was 22,699 at the 2010 census and an estimated 25,894 in 2019. Mercer Island is the most populated island in a lake within the United States. The ZIP code 98040 is unique to Mercer Island. Mercer Island has the fifth highest per-capita income in the state of Washington and is one of the 100 richest ZIP codes in the USA according to the IRS figures for Adjusted Gross Income.
The western side of the island was home to two Snoqualmie villages prior to white settlement in the Puget Sound region. Mercer Island, named for the Mercer family of Seattle, was first settled between 1870 and 1880. The Mercer brothers often rowed between the island and Seattle to pick berries, hunt, and fish. Those brothers, Thomas Mercer and Asa Mercer, were members of the Mercer family of Virginia. The first large settlement, East Seattle, was toward the northwest side of the island—near the McGilvara neighborhood. During 1889, a C C Calkins built a large and gilded resort, the Calkins Hotel. The hotel was reached via steamboat between Madison Park, Leschi Park, and the Eastside. Guests included President Benjamin Harrison, of 1901, amongst other well-to-do dignitaries from Seattle to the East Coast of the United States. Burned by a mysterious fire, the hotel was razed during 1908.
The Calkins Landing continued service and presumably aided the establishment of a more permanent population. A denser urban community with business district developed toward the central northern island between the McGilvra neighborhood and Luther Burbank Park. This community now composes the majority of the island's crest through the Middle Island neighborhood.
In 1923, the East Channel Bridge was built to connect the island with Bellevue. In 1930, George W. Lightfoot requested a bridge between Mercer Island and Seattle. The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, currently the second longest floating bridge in the world, was built and opened in 1940. In 1989, a second bridge, the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, was built parallel to the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge. The East Channel Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, and Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, carry Interstate 90 from Seattle, across Mercer Island, and into Bellevue.
The City of Mercer Island was incorporated from East Seattle on July 5, 1960, and comprised all the island minus the 70-acre (280,000 m2) business district. Just over one month later, August 9, the Town of Mercer Island was incorporated from that business district. The two aforementioned municipalities merged as the City of Mercer Island on May 19, 1970.
Mercer Island City Hall is located at 47°34′39″N 122°12′43.2″W (47.5775, -122.212). The peak elevation in the city is about 338 feet (103 m), near the center of the island.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.11 square miles (33.95 km2), of which 6.32 square miles (16.37 km2) are land and 6.79 square miles (17.59 km2) are water.
Mercer Island is the most populated island in a lake in the US.
This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Mercer Island has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.
The Mercer Island School District comprises seven common schools on the island: four primary schools (Lakeridge Elementary, Island Park Elementary, West Mercer Elementary and Northwood Elementary); one Middle school (Islander Middle School); one High school (Mercer Island High School); one alternative secondary school (Crest Learning Center).
Mercer Island is also home to the St. Monica School, the French American School of Puget Sound, and the Northwest Yeshiva High School (9-12).
Luther Burbank Park covers 77 acres (310,000 m2) of land and has 0.75 miles (1.21 km) of waterfront. The park has a public boat dock and fishing pier, a swimming beach, an amphitheater, tennis courts, barbecues and picnic facilities, and an off-leash dog area. The city assumed maintenance of the park on January 1, 2003 from King County, which had purchased the park land in 1969.
The Aubrey Davis Park is atop the I-90 tunnel entrances. This park has softball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic shelters, and the Freeway Sculpture Park. Due to its location atop the I-90 tunnel, the park is also locally referred to as "The Lid."
Pioneer Park covers 113 acres (0.46 km2) and has equestrian, bicycle, and hiking trails. Deane's Children's Park, also known as "Dragon Park", is a small park with playground equipment including a large concrete dragon structure.
Clarke Beach is located at the south end of Mercer Island and is home to the annual polar bear swim on New Year's Day.
Mercer Island also has many smaller parks maintained by the city, some of which have waterfront access. In 2010, the city built a well in Rotary Park to supply the area with water in the event of a major disaster, specifically an earthquake.
Mercer Island is bisected by Interstate 90, which connects the city to Seattle in the west and Bellevue in the east. The freeway travels over the Lacey V. Murrow and Homer M. Hadley floating bridges over Lake Washington to Seattle and the East Channel Bridge towards Bellevue. The bridges also carry the Mountains to Sound Greenway, which includes a multi-purpose pedestrian and bicycle path. A significant section of the freeway is recessed below street level and covered by the Mercer Island Lid, which includes several parks.
The city's public transportation is provided by King County Metro and Sound Transit, mainly consisting of express bus routes to Seattle and the Eastside. Several routes connect to a park and ride on the north side of the island with 447 stalls. It was expanded into a two-story parking garage in 2008. All-day service for most of the island is provided by Metro Route 204, which is supplemented by Route 630 and several school bus routes during peak periods.
In 2023, a light rail station at the park and ride facility will be opened by Sound Transit, providing service on the Blue Line to Seattle and the Eastside. The light rail line will replace several express routes on Interstate 90 and Mercer Island will function as a major bus–rail interchange.
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