Yarrow Point incorporates on June 15, 1959.

  • By Phil Dougherty
  • Posted 11/18/2015
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 11146
On June 15, 1959, the town of Yarrow Point in King County incorporates. The second try turns out to be the charm, as voters had narrowly rejected an effort to incorporate four years earlier. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Washington in the area known as the Eastside, Yarrow Point is a quiet, affluent community known for its lakeside charms. 

If at First You Don't Succeed 

Yarrow Point is the easternmost of three points of land that jut out into Lake Washington from its eastern shoreline just north of the 520 bridge, the other two being Hunts Point and Evergreen Point. The community got its name from Leigh S. J. Hunt (1855-1933), owner and publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for eight years between 1886 and 1894. He bought most of the point in 1888 and built a home on its northern shoreline, naming it "Yarrow" after the poem "Yarrow Visited" by William Wordsworth (1770-1850). The name stuck, and a small farming community developed on the point, which lasted into the mid-twentieth century. 

By the 1950s suburbanization was transforming the Eastside and new communities were being born. Bellevue incorporated in 1953 and began rapidly annexing surrounding territory, and Yarrow Point's southern neighbor, Clyde Hill, incorporated in 1954.  Surrounding communities were left with their own decisions to make, but some favored incorporation more than others. When Bellevue began proceedings in the spring of 1955 to annex Medina and what was then called the Three Points, the communities reacted.  Medina filed a petition to incorporate that included Evergreen Point, while Hunts Point and Yarrow Point each filed their own petitions. All went to a vote on July 26, 1955. 

Incorporation passed in Medina and Hunts Point, but failed in Yarrow Point. The vote couldn't have been much closer: 113 opposed, 109 in favor. Although many in Yarrow Point felt the community wasn't being given a strong enough voice about the development surging into the area, they also felt that incorporation would result in a confusing and inefficient mishmash of local towns. But they weren't interested in annexing to Bellevue either. That turned out to be moot after the July 1955 election because Bellevue dropped its effort to annex Yarrow Point, even though the community had rejected incorporation. There the matter sat for the next three-and-a-half years.

Try, Try Again

In January 1959 plans were announced for an $11 million ($90 million in 2015 dollars) development at the head of Yarrow Bay. A deluxe resort hotel with four swimming pools, built on a 20-acre manmade island surrounded by a canal, a shopping center, and pricy apartments were planned. The impact on quiet Yarrow Point would be enormous, but the community felt that it had had little say in the proposal. The residents quickly set out to change that, filing a petition to incorporate with King County on January 26. Hearings followed at the Board of County Commissioners that spring, and an election date was set for June 2 to incorporate Yarrow Point as a town of the fourth class. 

Incorporation passed and passed big, by a four to one margin. Robert "Bob" Morrow was elected Yarrow Point's first mayor, and Robert Burns, Arthur Carkeek, Edmund John Davis, William Horton, and Victor Scalzo were elected the town's first councilmembers. The new town had approximately 650 residents and covered a land area of a little more than one-third of a square mile. Incorporation became official on June 15, 1959, and the new town council met for the first time nine days later.

In 2015 the town's boundaries are Lake Washington on its north and Cozy Cove on its western shoreline, dropping down from Cozy Cove through the Wetherill Nature Preserve and south across State Route 520 (SR 520) to Points Drive NE. There the boundary follows Points Drive northeast to 92nd Avenue NE, makes an odd dogleg across SR 520, then turns north near 96th Avenue NE and runs north and east to the southwestern shore of Yarrow Bay. 

The proposed development that galvanized Yarrow Point's incorporation was never built, and much of the area at the head of Yarrow Bay became a wildlife conservancy area named the Yarrow Bay Wetlands. Meanwhile, the town has prospered. It’s more affluent than King County as a whole, wealthy even by some of the tonier Eastside standards: Citydata.com reported that the average median household income in Yarrow Point in 2013 was $183,392, more than two-and-a-half times the median for King County, and one of the highest in the state. Likewise, the estimated median house value in Yarrow Point in 2013, just shy of $1 million, was nearly two-and-a-half times the median price of a house sold in King County that year. 

The 2010 Census recorded 1,001 residents in Yarrow Point. Of its residents, 86 percent were Caucasian, nearly 9 percent were Asian, and about 1.5 percent were Hispanic. In 2010 one African American was recorded living in Yarrow Point.


Sources: "Annexation Approved by City Council," The Bellevue American, May 19, 1955, p. 1; "Elections Stand Despite Absentee Ballot Count," Ibid., August 4, 1955, p. 1; $11,000,000 Development Proposed at Yarrow Bay," Ibid., January 29, 1959, p. 1;  "Yarrow Point Incorporates," Ibid., June 4, 1959, p. 1; "$11,000,000 Yarrow Point Project Stirs Controversy," The Seattle Times, February 1, 1959, p. 22; "Des Moines, Yarrow Point Elections Set," Ibid., April 6, 1959, p. 10; Sanjay Bhatt, "King County Home Prices Rise 10.5 Percent for 2013," Ibid., January 6, 2014 (www.seattletimes.com); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Hunts Point incorporates on August 22, 1955" and "Medina incorporates on August 19, 1955" (by Phil Dougherty) and "Yarrow Point -- Thumbnail History" (by Suzanne Knauss), http://www.historylink.org (accessed November 4, 2015); CPI Inflation Calculator," Bureau of Labor Statistics website accessed November 5, 2015 (http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl); "Yarrow Point, Washington Population," Census Viewer website accessed November 7, 2015 (http://censusviewer.com/city/WA/Yarrow%20Point); "Yarrow Point, Washington," City-Data.com website accessed October 31, 2015 (http://www.city-data.com/city/Yarrow-Point-Washington.html); "Yarrow Point Town Council Minutes, 1959-2009 -- Yarrow Point Town," Washington State Digital Archives website accessed November 7, 2015 (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/View/ 2D85C8F850CA79CE0ABD5244EA86D6B7).

Related Topics:   Cities & Towns

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