Kirkland Enters the 20th Century

After the Crash of '93 and the demise of the Kirk's steel venture, Kirkland took a long time to get back on her feet. Many people who had bought land on speculation were stuck with useless property. Unable to profit from it, they held it for years. Along with a sagging economy, this hindered development. In 1897, the Yukon Gold Rush gave Seattle a much-needed shot in the arm, but very little money trickled down upon East Siders.

Most residents accepted their lot. Many of them had lost money investing in Kirk's dream, and were left with no option but to persevere. Slowly but surely, Kirkland started growing into her own, as a gateway into and out of Seattle.

Lake Washington separated Kirkland from Seattle, and boat-building became essential. The Curtis family, who had lived on the East Side since the 1870's led the way. By 1900, they had a thriving business, not only in the construction of vessels, but in their operation. The Curtis' were some of the first ferrymen on the Lake. As boat traffic slowly increased, so did the East Side.

The increase in ferry traffic slowly brought about a change. It allowed people to work in Seattle and to live in a rural community. Here we see the beginnings of a "bedroom community" or as we would later call it - suburbia.

Many of these early suburbanites had small farms. It was not uncommon for a clerk or a businessman in Seattle to come home and feed the chickens or tend the berry vines. Some folk were able to live off of the land without any day job in the big city at all. Wealthier people were able to have summer homes with a bucolic setting, less than an hour away from their work-a-day world.

Kirkland incorporated into a town in 1905. Early settlers, like the French and Curtis families, helped this along. In 1910, developers Burke and Farrar bought the rest of the land owned by the Kirkland Land and Development Company (the last vestige of Peter Kirk). Burke and Farrar were more instrumental in the development if Kirkland than any of their predecessors, including Peter Kirk and Leigh Hunt.

Burke and Farrar were born to promote. They realized the benefits that Kirkland had to offer, and provided them to every Joe Worker and Mary Housewife at an affordable price. The fact that the town had already been platted and designed was beneficial to their efforts. This wasn't just a jumble of houses out in the sticks, this was a town with ferryboats that took you to work, and a solid community that you could come home to.

Throughout the 1910's, Kirkland established herself as the hub of the East Side. Ferry landings dotted the lake, but the main terminus was in downtown Kirkland. Businesses started popping up near the ferry dock. The center of town was no longer the buildings that Kirk had built to supplement his business, but those that catered to the commuter and resident alike.

Kirkland had progressed from a 19th Century agrarian community (briefly pausing while the Industrial Revolution flirted and passed them by), into the beginnings of 20th Century suburbia.

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