As the story goes, Mercer Island was never inhabited by Native Americans because the Duwamish people believed that the foggy island was haunted. The island was believed to sink into the lake each night and resurface each morning. This spooky theory was proven false when the Mercer family established a small community on the island in the late 19th century. After that, the area was slow to develop until bridges were built to connect the island to the rest of Seattle, and the City of Mercer Island officially came to be in 1970.
What to Expect
A premium, suburban oasis.
Throughout the past decade or so, Mercer Island has developed a reputation for its status as a highly sophisticated and upscale neighborhood, and for good reason. This community boasts some of the lowest crime rates and highest test scores in the country. Indeed, many people cite the great schools as their reason for moving to Mercer Island. There are a number of highly rated public and private schools, including Northwest Yeshiva High School, the only Jewish high school in the state. There are plenty of friendly neighbors here, many of whom lead active lifestyles; you will often see people walking their dogs or running a marathon on the weekends.
In recent years, the city of Mercer Island has made an impressive and significant effort to revitalize the community’s town center. This project was highly successful, and the Mercer Island downtown is now the island’s go-to gathering place for shopping and dining. The condos and apartments in this neighborhood might be a good fit for those who prefer to be within walking distance of their favorite coffee house. Additionally, while residents once had to visit Seattle or Bellevue just to pick up the week’s groceries, Mercer Island is now home to several convenient grocery stores as well as the Mercer Island Farmers Market.
The population of Mercer Island is primarily composed of professionals who commute to the nearby metropolitan areas by car. Depending on traffic, it takes 15-30 minutes to access either downtown Seattle or Bellevue. For those who travel often for work or recreation, the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) Airport is 30-45 minutes away.
Looking ahead, commutes for Mercer Island residents are soon to be even more convenient than they are now. The Link Light Rail is set to expand towards the Eastside, with stations in Mercer Island, south Bellevue, downtown Bellevue, Redmond, and beyond. The Mercer Island station is planned to open in 2023, near the existing Park-and-Ride.
Residents of Mercer Island have long prioritized the island’s many public parks; all are well maintained and feature a complete set of amenities. Luther Burbank Park is a stunning, 77 acre park located on the northern end of the island. It features a long stretch of Lake Washington waterfront, and has everything from an off-leash dog area, a public boat dock, three tennis courts to walking trails. Looking for variety? There are over 50 miles of walking trails that wind throughout Mercer Island.
For those who know that slowing down is a luxury.
Mercer Island attracts those who are looking for the ease and tranquility of a suburban neighborhood with close proximity and easy access to both Seattle and Bellevue. Here you’ll find quiet neighborhoods and an out-of-the-way charm. Although over 24,000 people choose to make Mercer Island their home, the general consensus is that the island feels much smaller.