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Get to Know Your Community: First Hill

This post is part of an occasional series offering insights into unique neighborhoods on Mercer Island and surrounding Lake Washington and the Puget Sound.

This post is the second in a series offering insights into the unique characteristics
of specific neighborhoods on Mercer Island and communities surrounding Lake Washington, including Parkwood, Tarywood, Woodridge, Judkins Park and Newcastle.

Mercer Island

Mercer Island, WA is located on the South end of Lake Washington, just East of Seattle. The I-90 floating bridge and freeway connects the island's North end to Seattle and the Eastside.

Mercer Island is home to a large number of waterfront homes on Lake Washington, with a speedy commute to the major hubs of Greater Seattle, but a secluded, small-town feel at home. The island is approximately six miles long and 2 miles wide, with 22,699 residents and some of the states' best schools. On a list of the most exclusive areas of the U.S, Mercer Island recently ranked number 18.

First Hill

A ridge known as First Hill separates East Seattle from “the North End,” as the northwest part of Mercer Island. First Hill’s eastern boundary is the opposite East Ridge, or 84th Street. The two ridges enclose an area running from Serena Cove along the Island's northern waterfront, to Lucas Hill along the south, at 40th Street. The First Hill neighborhood is located south of I-90, separating East Seattle from the north-end of the island. The area covers 0.168 square miles. The early history of First Hill land development is documented in the first Mercer Island plats of McGilvra and Mercer Park.

Today, First Hill is home to 483 people. The population density of this area is lower than that of Mercer Island as a whole — First Hill is 2,879 people per square mile, while Mercer Island is 3,452 people per square mile. Median household income for this community was $96,983 in 2009 (Mercer Island was $117,231).

First Hill is one of the neighborhoods containing the “lid” (the covered area of I-90, which is part of Mercer Island). A park built atop the “Lid” covering the freeway includes large vent stacks that help move air out of the I-90 tunnel. The stacks look awkward and out of place, and most people are unaware of their real purpose. The Park on the Lid, a Park & Ride, and the I-90 bike path all are accessible on the north side of First Hill.

First Hill Park, at SE 32nd Street and 72nd Avenue SE, is a small neighborhood park that includes an elaborate play structure, including a tree house with a slide, t-ball, basketball, and a picnic table. The neighborhood is also a popular walking and biking neighborhood. It offers some of the most scenic views on Mercer Island. Throughout First Hill are pathways, stairs, and trails that lead to the lakefront, parks, and the downtown business district.

The homes of First Hill were built between the 1940's and the 1960's. Over time, developers have purchased some of the older homes and replaced them with new upper-end homes. Homes recently sold in First Hill were priced between $480,000 and $1,525,000. First Hill has become a very desirable residential neighborhood, primarily due to its easy access to I-90 and a quick commute to Seattle. 

By Ken Urman, Realtor® 

Ken Urman is a full-time Realtor with more than 20 years experience, and is ranked among the top performers in his profession. He lives in Mercer Island, WA. and serves Mercer Island and the communities around Lake Washington. Buyers and Sellers benefit from the power of his experience, professionalism, and perseverance in achieving their real estate goals. Learn why Ken is a better choice for your real estate needs at www.kenurman.com.

If you are looking for a home in First Hill, or you would simply like to learn more about the community, please give me a call at 206-230-0833 or 206-499-4948.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jerry Gropp Architect AIA January 08, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Thanks Ken- I'll go by in the morning- on my way to the Libe. JerryG- http://media.matrix.nwmls.com/mediaserver/GetMedia.ashx?Key=55097192&TableID=1&Type=1&Size=3&exk=-1080683819&Number=0
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA January 08, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Kendall- We PatchReaders are still waiting for the "really neat 1920s map of Mercer Island on his (Joshua Thurman's) wall". You promised to add a photo of it to this blog. J-
Kendall Watson January 08, 2013 at 10:56 PM
There you go!
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA January 09, 2013 at 05:27 AM
Josh- Guess I'll have to come down to your office to really see your '20s MI Map . When's a good time? This is indeed something. How did you come by it? JerryG-
Kendall Watson April 13, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Hey Jerry, Did you ever get in touch with Joshua Thurman? And @Ken, I was wondering in this description of First Hill if you didn't intend to write that the eastern boundary of First Hill is 74th Ave. SE, and not "First Hill’s eastern boundary is the opposite East Ridge, or 84th Street". It always seemed to me that First Hill ran roughly between 72nd and 74th, north to I-90 (I think very few would consider the Roanoke Tavern as a First Hill location, for example) and south to SE 40th St.

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