Issaquah, Downtown, Sign, Courtesy City of Issaquah
Automobiles driving under Sprau's Ice Cream banner, downtown Issaquah, ca. 1916, Courtesy UW Special Collections (WAS1085)
Issaquah, ca. 1965, Courtesy Washington State Historyical Society (1990.82.3.3003)

Issaquah

History abounds in a bustling Eastside suburb

by Phil Dougherty

Native Americans inhabited the Squak Valley for centuries before the first homesteaders arrived in the 1860s. The village they founded was incorporated under the name Gilman in 1892, and then renamed Issaquah in 1899. The town has experienced two periods of rapid growth, the first in the late nineteenth century when the local economy was fueled by the coal, lumber, hop growing, and dairy industries. During the mid-twentieth century the town stagnated, but that was followed again by rapid development. In 2003, Issaquah was listed as the fastest-growing community in the state of Washington. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated population in 2018 was 39,378.

Learn More about Issaquah at HistoryLink.org

Walking Distance: 2.6 miles
Terrain: City sidewalks and parks, no hills
Bus: Google Maps Transit Directions

Tour Stops

1

Gilman Town Hall

165 SE Andrews Street

If you want to learn something about Issaquah history, this is the place to go. Home to the one of the Issaquah History Museums, the building is one of the oldest still standing in what’s known as “Olde Town” Issaquah....

2

Trail Center / Sylvester House

110 SE Bush Street

Wilbur Sylvester, a prominent citizen of early Issaquah, built a small house on this site around 1900. When the City of Issaquah later acquired the property and wanted to use the building, it had deteriorated so badly that the city...

3

Logging History Display

100 1st Avenue SE

Along with coal mining, logging was one of the catalysts for Issaquah’s growth during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the logging history display in Issaquah’s “Preservation Park” (it is not an official city park) reflects this. Built...

4

Intersection of Front Street and Sunset Way

West Sunset Way and Front Street North

This is the site where the first Issaquah homesteaders filed claims in what was then known as the Squak Valley. Lyman Andrews filed first, soon after he discovered coal in the nearby mountains in 1862. Two Norwegian brothers, Lars and...

5

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

125 West Sunset Way

This site along Issaquah Creek was once part of a city park, and it was a popular venue for local events and large holiday celebrations during the 1920s. The hatchery was built in 1936 and 1937 as one of many...

The Independent Order of Oddfellows (IOOF) Hall was built in 1888. It is said to be the oldest commercial structure remaining in Issaquah. The IOOF is a non-political fraternal organization formed in the U.S. in 1819 in order to provide...

7

Bank of Issaquah

111 Front Street N

This distinctive building was built in 1910 to serve as the Bank of Issaquah, and at the time it was one of the most sophisticated and ornate buildings in town. The first floor served as a bank under various different...

8

Village Theatre

120 Front Street N

Built in 1913, this building was originally known as the Issaquah Theatre. It was built with removable seats, and in its early years they would sometimes be removed for events such as graduations, basketball games, and school dances. For a...

9

Hailstone Feed Store

232 Front Street N

The feed store’s origins are murky. There is speculation that the building was built in the 1890s to serve as a home, while other sources say Nicholas Burke built the building in 1903 to use as a warehouse as an...

10

Issaquah Creamery

611 Front Street N

A group of local businessmen opened the Northwestern Milk Condensing Company at this site in 1909 to serve local dairy farms, and there’s been a dairy plant here ever since. In its early years the plant condensed milk, made butter...

11

Confluence Park

695 Rainier Boulevard N

When this area was first settled in the nineteenth century it served as a hop farm; in the twentieth, it was a dairy farm. In 1993 the City of Issaquah bought part of the land and named it Issaquah Creek...

12

Alexander House

155 NW Gilman Boulevard

The Alexander House was built in 1902 by Thomas and Caroline Alexander on the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish below the community of Monohon. (Today this location is in the southwestern corner of the city of Sammamish, just east of...

13

Gilman Village

317 NW Gilman Boulevard

Gilman Village sprang from an idea in 1972 by two local businesswomen, Betty Konarski and Marilyn Gray. The two women operated a small arts and crafts store named The Country Mouse that operated out of a house built in 1909,...

14

Boehm’s Candies

255 NE Gilman Boulevard

No trip to Issaquah is complete without a trip to Boehm’s. Julius Boehm, an Austrian who moved to the Seattle area in the early 1940s, opened his first candy store in Seattle in 1942. Business was so good that in...

15

Issaquah Depot Museum

78 1st Avenue NE

The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway arrived in Issaquah in 1888, and a depot with the same name — but more commonly known as the Issaquah Depot — was built in 1889. The railroad’s arrival kick-started Issaquah’s transition from...

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