Issaquah got its name from the Native American term for the region—the Squak Valley. No one really knows whether the name referred to the stream that flowed there, the noise the native northern crane made, or the native word for snake. Either way the name stuck and people got on with their lives, growing hops and other crops until coal was discovered in the area. Mining and logging endeavors brought many workers and much profit to the city, which grew rapidly. When the coal industry started slowing down, Issaquah saw a time of dwindling population and prosperity, but with the advent of the car and a brand new freeway (I-90) connecting the town to Seattle, population exploded for once and for all.
The community of Issaquah embraces its past and has maintained its small ‘downtown’ area to be as historic as possible. Meanwhile, the homes are much newer; the great majority of them were constructed after the 1980s. Because the houses tend to be larger and are in tucked-away neighborhoods, Issaquah is attractive to people who want room to spread out in a quieter atmosphere.
Activities and Attractions
The area around Front Street comprises the ‘Olde Town’ of Issaquah. Here, you can visit the Issaquah Depot Museum or the Gilman Town Hall Museum, both of which are located in historic buildings and provide a glimpse into Ye Olde Issaquah. Boehm’s Candies is another staple here; and you can tell by their Swiss-Alps façade that they know the business. There’s also a taste of current culture at places like Jak’s Grill, Rogue Ales, or the Village Theater. And every October, this area hosts Issaquah Salmon Days, a chance to celebrate the fish that is so vital to our northwest culture and heritage. Finally, a visit to these parts wouldn’t be complete with out a stop at XXX Rootbeer to see their kitschy décor and many car shows.
Surrounding sectors have lots of shopping and errand-running options; Issaquah has its own Costco, Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s, and an REI, so no matter what it is you need, pretty much all of your bases are covered.
And speaking of REI, you’re going to make frequent stops there to stock up on the supplies you’ll need to enjoy all of the outdoor activities that Issaquah has to offer. The “Issaquah Alps”—the mountains that lie to the east—are an outdoorsman’s dream come true. Aside from the many peaks to summit and rock faces to climb, you can partake in stunts like paragliding or just take a guided walk to learn about the region’s flora and fauna.
Homes in Issaquah
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What was once a sleepy farming and mining community has since become the fastest growing (in 2003, at least) community in the entire state of Washington. What’s so appealing about Issaquah? Well, it’s an easy commute along I-90 to Seattle, Bellevue, or up to Redmond, there are tons of opportunities for owning a new home or condo, and its back yard is full of the beauty of the northwest.