Medina

Eastside Stories: Eastside Cities

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Cities. Almost all of us on the Eastside today live in one. We may take our cities for granted, but they have not always existed—people had to create them. States are the foundation of the country, and counties are necessary subdivisions of states. Cities are, well, kind of optional.

When Finn Hill joined Kirkland in 2011, one of the last large bits of urban unincorporated area on the Eastside came under the benevolent arm of city hall. Most Eastsiders now live in one of 14 cities in the urbanized areas and five in the rural areas. The boundaries of cities often seem to make little sense, and they sit on top of a patchwork of school and other special districts.

If we were designing a system of governance from scratch we certainly would not end up with anything like the current map of the Eastside. So, how did we end up with our current array of cities?

Cities are formed when a group of residents petition their county government. Once a boundary for a proposed city is agreed upon, residents within that boundary vote on incorporation. Residents can also vote to annex to an existing city, if that city is willing to absorb them.

In the early days of the Eastside, pioneers had few expectations for government services, so cities were slow to form. It can be perfectly fine to live in unincorporated areas without city government. County government provides basic services, and other services are provided by special utility and fire districts and private associations.

Scene on Front Street in Issaquah circa 1910

Scene on Front Street in Issaquah circa 1910

The first wave of incorporations happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Issaquah is the oldest city on the Eastside, dating back to 1892 (originally named Gilman). It was a coal mining town that made a successful transition to railroad work. Snoqualmie (1903), Bothell (1909) and North Bend (1909) all had their roots in the early railroad routes and as logging and agricultural commercial centers.

Kirkland, which incorporated in 1905, was slated to become the “Pittsburgh of the West.” By the time Peter Kirk’s big industrial plans fell through, Kirkland had become a good sized settlement, and it made sense to form a city. Redmond, had its roots as a timber and railroad center, and incorporated its growing downtown in 1912. The farming and railroad towns of Carnation and Duvall incorporated in 1912 and 1913, respectively.

In 1910, when the postcard was mailed, Redmond was big enough not only to have its own souvenir cards, but also a local post office to mail them from.

In 1910, when the postcard was mailed, Redmond was big enough not only to have its own souvenir cards, but also a local post office to mail them from.

Then city formation on the Eastside ground to a halt for decades. Growth was slow, as mining and timber activity wound down and few new large industries moved to the still-remote area. Some larger settlements, like those around the mines of Newcastle, disbanded. Bellevue was still just a one-street village, and the vast commercial areas of Overlake were farms and forests. Not much need for new cities.

Then in the 1950s, the Eastside sprang to life.

The new bridge across Mercer Island opened the area to large scale homebuilding, and Bellevue began to resemble a real city. In 1953 Bellevue incorporated with just under 6,000 residents. Feeling Bellevue breathing down their necks, the Points Communities formed themselves into four separate cities: Clyde Hill (1953), Hunts Point (1955), Medina (1955), Yarrow Point (1959). And the tiny artists colony of Beaux Arts Village formed itself into a town in 1954.

Eugene Boyd and Phil Reilly celebrate the incorporation of Bellevue in 1953

Eugene Boyd and Phil Reilly celebrate the incorporation of Bellevue in 1953

Then another 35 years of quiet. Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah and Bothell gradually annexed surrounding neighborhoods, but many pockets of residential area were perfectly happy with the benign neglect that county government offered.

But along came a less benign force: the Growth Management Act of 1989, which required extensive planning and encouraged higher density development. Nothing gets the attention of otherwise complacent citizens like the prospect of changes in land use, and within a few years, the Eastside had four more cities seeking to control their destiny: Woodinville (1993), Newcastle (1994), Kenmore (1998), Sammamish (1999).

In many respects, cities are the ultimate democratic institutions: groups of free citizens banding together to form a local government that will collect taxes from them and provide services they ask for. The chaotic looking map of the Eastside is the result of tens of thousands of individual decisions by Eastsiders about how they want to shape their neighborhoods. Individual cities take on the character of their residents over time and become unique places.

From chaos comes community.

All images from the collection of the Eastside Heritage Center. If you are interested in obtaining images from our collection, which has extensive holdings from Eastside cities, contact us at collections@eastsideheritagecenter.org


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Ferry Landings of Lake Washington--Part II

No. 8 | May 15, 2019

Eastside Stories

Ferry Landings of Lake Washington--Part II

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

In the first part of our tour of ferry landings on the east side of Lake Washington we covered the north part of the lake, from Juanita to Hunts Point. Now we will pick up the story continuing around the Points.

For the most part, the public ferry docks and wharves were built and maintained by King County. Except for Kirkland, which became a city in 1905, the eastern shore of the lake was all unincorporated and county government was the default provider of local government services and infrastructure.

When a group of settlers decided they needed a road or ferry dock they would petition the County Commission and make their case for the investment. If the county agreed to build the facility, property owners would be required to donate the necessary land. Roads were usually unpaved at first, and residents would have to undertake the entire process again to get a road widened and paved.

Periodically the county would send out an intrepid engineer to inspect the ferry docks. The logbooks for these inspections are in the King County Archives and provide insight into the challenges of maintaining these critical links. At a time when treated lumber was a rarity, there were perennial problems with rot and dangerous conditions.

And as ferry service declined and then ended, the county was left with a collection of mostly decrepit piers that had been gradually adapted to public uses.

Fairweather Wharf. We'll begin just south of where we left off in Fairweather Bay, between Hunts and Evergreen points, with the strange case of the Fairweather Wharf. Where today there is an engineered yacht basin between the two points, there was originally a wetland. In 1918, after Lake Washington was lowered and the wetland more fully exposed, King County decided that a wharf was needed at this location. This required construction of an elaborate structure--the Boddy-Hindle Trestle--across the wetland, with a spur to the wharf.

While the Boddy-Hindle Trestle became an important route through the Points, linking Evergreen Point to the base of Hunts Point, where there was a school and market, the wharf was never much used. No one lived in the immediate area and more convenient wharves were available on the points.

The image shows Fairweather Wharf when it was relatively new, with the section to the left leading to the Boddy-Hindle Trestle. A wharf inspector's report from 1930 indicates that the wharf is badly rotted and that everything above the water needed replacing. An inspector's report from 1946 indicates that the wharf had completely disappeared and no sign of it remained. The inspector was not bothered, though, noting that the wharf "was in a location not suitable for any reasonable construction supported by piling or otherwise."

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Evergreen Point-Lake Lane . This pier served Evergreen Point and was a regular stop for the steamer Ariel. Its origin seems somewhat uncertain, as the Wharf Inspector of 1946 cannot find records of it having been built by King County. By 1946 ferry service had ended and the inspector noted that the pier was used for public access to the lake for swimming and boating--activities of which he approved! This location remains a public dock maintained by the City of Medina. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

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Original Medina dock . Medina enjoyed regular ferry service from Seattle as early as the 1890s, with this robust pier at the foot of what is today N.E. 8th Street, near the "Green Store" and post office. The lakefront land for the wharf was donated to the county by Thomas Dabney, one of the first residents of the area. When a new car ferry landing was built to the south, the new owner of the Dabney property, Captain Elias Johnston, went to great lengths to reclaim the land from the county.

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First Medina car ferry landing . The Port of Seattle introduced car ferry service to Medina and Bellevue in 1913, and this was the original wharf at the foot of Evergreen Point Road. This pier was left high and dry just a few years later when Lake Washington was lowered by nine feet with the opening of the new Ship Canal. The identity of the child on the beach is not known.

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Medina Ferry Terminal . Following the lowering of Lake Washington and the exposure of new shoreline, King County built a new car ferry dock and terminal building. The original dock was built immediately adjacent to the terminal building and later moved to the south as shown in this image. When ferry service ended, the terminal building became a community clubhouse and, later, Medina City Hall. A much-remodeled city hall and beach park remain on the site today.

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Clyde landing, Meydenbauer Bay, Bellevue. This pier stood at the foot of Clyde Road (now 92nd Avenue NE), which was named by an early resident with Scottish roots. It is not clear how much ferry service was provided to this location, as it is close to the main Bellevue dock. But the property did remain in public ownership and was converted into Clyde Beach Park, which is maintained by the City of Bellevue.


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Ferry Landings of Lake Washington

No. 5 | April 3, 2019

Eastside Stories

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Ferry Landings of Lake Washington, Part I

The first edition of Eastside Stories described the ferries that connected the Eastside to Seattle before the floating bridges. These vessels had to land somewhere, and we'll begin the story of the ferry landings on the east side of Lake Washington.

Captain Robert Matson, who began working on Lake Washington ferries as a boy, drew up a map that shows over 30 formal wharves from Juanita to Kennydale in service in 1909. Many other known docks are not shown on his map, so it would be safe to say that well over three dozen formal stops existed on the Eastside at one time or another. This large number of stops makes sense for a couple of reasons.

First, there were few roads around the Eastside at the time, so once off the ferry, it would be tough to travel far. Life around the lake was really oriented toward the water. Front doors were on the water side and in some areas property owners were required to grant easements on their shoreline so local residents could walk along the beach to the ferry.

Second, most of the ferry service was via passenger steamer, with vehicle service offered only to Kirkland, Medina and Bellevue. So ferries needed to drop their passengers off close to home.

Many of these landings exist only in distant memories or on sketches like Captain Matson’s. But others have remained in public ownership and are now enjoyed as parks and fishing piers, sometimes known mostly to the neighbors.

Following are five of the wharves on the north end of the lake. In future editions, we’ll look at wharves on the southern half of the lake as well as on Mercer Island and in Seattle.

Juanita Bay . Juanita, originally known as Hubbard, was settled in the 1870s as a farming and timber community. It later became a popular beach that attracted people from around the area. Juanita Bay itself is quite shallow, so the wharf had to be built some distance from the shore. A stack of cordwood to fuel the steamers is visible at the end of the pier.

Kirkland . As the major city of the Eastside, Kirkland was the first to get vehicle ferry service in 1905. (In that year, most of the vehicles would have been horse-drawn wagons). And Kirkland was the last Eastside community to enjoy car ferry service , which ended in 1950, ten years after the Mercer Island bridge had opened. The Kirkland ferry dock was located where the current public pier sits in downtown Kirkland.

Northup . This pier, among the earliest on the Eastside, was situated on the east side of Yarrow Bay in the community of Houghton. (Yarrow Point and Hunts Point are in the background.) The Northups and several other families settled the area in the 1870s. These children would have attended the Houghton School which was just to the north of the ferry landing or the Northup School further to the south.

Penrose Landing, Hunts Point . Hunts Point had more than its share of ferry landings because it had a relatively large number of daily commuters, at least in the summer months. This landing was on the east side of Hunts Point, in Cozy Cove. A passenger who missed the ferry here could run across the point to the Club House dock and likely make it there before the ferry rounded the point. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Club House dock, Hunts Point . This image shows the Club House dock on Fairweather Bay, during an Independence Day celebration in 1915. (Photo courtesy of Town of Hunts Point)


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: The Points Communities

No. 4 | March 20, 2019

Eastside Stories

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

The Points Communities

A visitor to the Eastside, headed across the SR-520 bridge toward Kirkland, Redmond or Bellevue will first cross through four small cities: Medina, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point and Clyde Hill. While the large Eastside cities have populations numbering in the high ten-thousands to well over 100,000, the Points Communities cities range from just 420 souls in Hunts Point to 3,200 in Medina.

Just where did these little burgs come from? And do they really make sense in our modern patterns of governance?

The Points Communities were settled around the same time as the rest of the Eastside, and since the easiest transport was by water, their proximity to Seattle allowed them to turn into significant communities early on. The Lake Washington Reflector newspaper gave Medina and Bellevue equal billing on the masthead into the 1930s.

As Seattle grew, and ferry service became reliable, the points offered both affordable commuting homes and waterfront mansions for the wealthy. The three points themselves—Evergreen, Hunts, Yarrow—had a large number of vacation homes in the early years, as the upper middle class of Seattle could enjoy waterfront living for the summer while staying within commuting distance of Seattle. The uplands of Medina attracted more year-round commuters, while Clyde Hill and the uplands of Yarrow Point were largely agricultural. 

 
Medina School opened in 1909. At that time, most older children from Medina took the ferry to Garfield High School in Seattle.

Medina School opened in 1909. At that time, most older children from Medina took the ferry to Garfield High School in Seattle.

These communities grew slowly until major change came to the Eastside with the opening of the Mercer Island floating bridge and the post-war housing boom. Kirkland had long been the commercial center of the Eastside, but Bellevue gradually expanded its commercial role and by the 1950s was getting quite built up. Unlike other established Eastside towns—Renton, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell—Bellevue had never incorporated as a city. It took care of that omission in 1953, creating a new city centered in what is now the downtown area.

Clyde Hill incorporated the same year as Bellevue, but there was little consensus within the rest of the points about their future. The points area was now cut off from the rest of unincorporated King County by Bellevue, Clyde Hill and Houghton (a separate city that merged with Kirkland in 1968). With the prospects of higher density growth and a new floating bridge, residents wanted to control their own planning and zoning.

City government for the points seemed inevitable, but what would that look like? Annexation to Bellevue was certainly an option, and the prevailing “good government” view at the time was that small cities were inefficient and unnecessary. The Bellevue American newspaper and the King County Municipal League argued for annexation to Bellevue, and many points residents agreed.

 
Bay School, located where Hunts Point City Hall stands today, served the points and north Clyde Hill. Older children from Bay School attended Kirkland High School.

Bay School, located where Hunts Point City Hall stands today, served the points and north Clyde Hill. Older children from Bay School attended Kirkland High School.

But, at the same time, each community had its faction that favored incorporation. The points area had long been divided by school district and community club boundaries, and the incorporation movements followed these boundaries, with the Medina Community Club joining forces with the Evergreen Point club.

Pro-annexation residents of Medina applied to join Bellevue, but annexations take time, and the incorporation forces in Medina got on the ballot before the annexation process could be completed. If Medina incorporated, annexation to Bellevue would be impossible for the other points, so in 1955 incorporation measures went on the ballot on the same date in Medina, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point. Medina and Hunts Point voters approved their measures, and it took another four years to get a successful vote in Yarrow Point.

 
Sunnyside Landing provided one of the ferry connections for Yarrow Point. It stood at what is today a public beach access at the foot of NE 42nd Street on Cozy Cove. Ferries serving the points landed at Madison Park in Seattle, allowing commuters to take a streetcar directly to downtown Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Sunnyside Landing provided one of the ferry connections for Yarrow Point. It stood at what is today a public beach access at the foot of NE 42nd Street on Cozy Cove. Ferries serving the points landed at Madison Park in Seattle, allowing commuters to take a streetcar directly to downtown Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

It turns out that small cities are not such a bad idea, especially if they have robust tax bases. In the 1950s it became very common across the country for suburban cities to contract for complex services while keeping control of politically important functions like planning. The Points Communities all contract with Bellevue for fire service and Bellevue operates the water and sewer utilities.

Medina provides police protection to Hunts Point and Clyde Hill provides police service to Yarrow Point. All four communities make extensive use of private firms for planning and other technical work.

So there they sit, four fiercely independent cities that certainly appreciate the amenities of the big cities next door, but have no interest in joining them.


Learn more about the Eastside and the Point Communities. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years

A Point in Time (Yarrow Point) is out of print but available at the King County Library


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Meydenbauer Bay

No. 3 | March 6, 2019

Eastside Stories

 

Meydenbauer Bay

Subscribe to Eastside Stories by emailing us at: info@eastsideheritagecenter.org

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

On March 16, 2019, dignitaries will cut the ribbon on Bellevue’s newest gathering place, the long awaited Meydenbauer Bay Park. This park ties together the old Meydenbauer Beach park with the Bellevue Marina, creating the longest stretch of public waterfront in the city.

Meydenbauer Bay is the birthplace of Bellevue and served as the connection point between the earliest settlers and Seattle. Bellevue’s first commercial district on Main Street was just up the hill, as was Bellevue’s first major school building.

In March of 1869, William Meydenbauer, a German-immigrant baker, rowed across Lake Washington and staked his claim to land on the east end of the bay that would later bear his name. 

 
View from 1908, looking north across the early passenger ferry wharf to the Bellevue School on the hill--at the corner of Main and 100th Avenue today.

View from 1908, looking north across the early passenger ferry wharf to the Bellevue School on the hill--at the corner of Main and 100th Avenue today.

At the time there were no other permanent settlers in the area, and Meydenbauer had no intention of building a permanent residence himself. His cabin was just enough to “prove” his homestead and gain him title to the land. He sold all his holdings before long and later acquired property on Hunts Point.

Families gradually settled the area around the bay. By the 1880s the new steamers on the lake began to call, and a wharf was built at the head of the bay.

The big change came in 1913, when the new vehicle ferry, the Leschi, arrived in Meydenbauer Bay. Although the Leschi would cut the Meydenbauer stop off its itinerary in 1920 (sticking to a Seattle-Medina route) that service was enough to establish Bellevue as the primary settlement in the area.

 
The wharf shown in the first photo was lengthened to accommodate the new car ferry Leschi in 1913. Regular ferry service to Meydenbauer Bay ended in 1920, but excursions to the bay continued into the 1930s. (L85.39.4)

The wharf shown in the first photo was lengthened to accommodate the new car ferry Leschi in 1913. Regular ferry service to Meydenbauer Bay ended in 1920, but excursions to the bay continued into the 1930s. (L85.39.4)

Meydenbauer Bay was also an early destination for revelers from Seattle. In the early 1900s, part of William Meydenbauer’s original homestead was purchased and turned into Wildwood Park, which included a dance hall. Steamers would bring party-goers from Seattle for picnics, dancing and canoe paddling. Wildwood had its ups and downs, hosting roller skating and boxing matches. The dance hall was eventually remodeled into the Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club, which stands today among Bellevue’s oldest structures.

Perhaps the most curious part of Meydenbauer Bay’s history came in 1919, shortly after the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal: the American Pacific Whaling Company.  Although alternatives had been developed for most of the products that came from whales, the industry was still active in Alaskan waters.

 
The American Pacific Whaling fleet gets up steam in preparation for their departure to Alaskan waters. The promoters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal envisioned it giving rise to major industries on Lake Washington. While industry lined the canal and Lake Union in Seattle, the whaling station at Meydenbauer Bay was one of the few significant industrial concerns to locate on the lake itself.

The American Pacific Whaling fleet gets up steam in preparation for their departure to Alaskan waters. The promoters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal envisioned it giving rise to major industries on Lake Washington. While industry lined the canal and Lake Union in Seattle, the whaling station at Meydenbauer Bay was one of the few significant industrial concerns to locate on the lake itself.

The fleet of nine boats operated in Alaska during the summer months (no whales were ever brought to Lake Washington). Things were generally pretty quiet during the winter in Meydenbauer, with the mostly Scandinavian whalers living in Ballard. Nonetheless, the American Pacific Whaling Company was the second largest employer on the Eastside at the time, with only the Houghton shipyard having more workers.

Like much of the Alaska fishing fleet, the whalers preferred to be in Puget Sound during the off-season, and the new ship canal offered the bonus opportunity of keeping the vessels in fresh water.

After World War II it became clear that whaling did not have a future as an industry, and the Lagen family closed the business. The dock area was converted to what is now the Bellevue Marina, and two original buildings remain on the site.

The Bay gradually filled in with waterfront homes, leaving few publicly-accessible places. The original Clyde ferry landing at the foot of 92nd Avenue became Clyde Beach, which was later expanded by purchasing the property to the east. In the 1930s a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project converted the ravine between 97th and 98th avenues into Meydenbauer Beach Park, which forms the western boundary of the new park. 

With the new, expanded Meydenbauer Bay Park, the Eastside can return to its roots along this beautiful natural inlet.

The Eastside Heritage Center will participate in the Grand Opening of Meydenbauer Bay Park, Saturday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture