6.2 out of 10

Harbor Island

47.5821182095224 -122.352549105955
Great for
  • Parking
  • Cost of Living
  •  
  •  
  •  
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Schools
  • Eating Out
  • Childcare
Who lives here?
  • Retirees
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Reviews

5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Mar 17, 2017

"Hahaha I was one of the Three residents to live there in 2000."

There were a few of us living in the Port of Seattle Harbor Island Marina. It wasnt bad at all. Good location and you could see the Space Needle from the boat at high tide. Easy bike ride to downtown....

All of us were professionals so the medium income would be a bit skewed...
Pros
  • An engineering marvel
  • Interesting place to visit once
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Virtually no amenities
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Internet Access 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
2yrs+

"An Island Where Nobody Lives"

The store of Seattle is simple. It’s built on sand and its harbors are somewhat manufactured so as to take away the booming cargo business from Tacoma. This is one of the reasons people dread earthquakes because nothing here is built on solid ground. Harbor Island has the same history as it’s an island completely manmade. Stretching 400 acres it’s not the biggest island in the area and it’s not the liveliest either. In fact no one lives there the only people who visit are there to work on unloading cargo ships. Several shipyards are located on the island, Todd Pacific Shipyards and the Port of Seattle terminals.

Harbor Island isn’t alone in its manmade-ness the much frequented sports stadiums Safeco Field and Qwest Field now sit on land that was built up the same time Harbor Island was. A favorite for Seattle based fishermen the island is a hot bed for crabbing.
Recommended for
  • Retirees
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
2yrs+

"An Engineering Feat"

Harbor Island isn’t much of a neighborhood, really. It’s more like an awesome feat of science and engineering, being an artificial island made (initially) from about twenty-five million cubic yards of earth displaced from Dearborn Street for industrial uses. (Parenthetically, that made it the world’s largest artificial island at the time of its construction in the early 1900s, then just an artificial island when the title was snatched away by a California construction, and then it was back on top again after an expansion. That’s a lot of history for such a little space.) Originally built by the Puget Sound Bridge and Drudging Company (inviting name, amirite?), the uses for this floating facility have included things like shipbuilding, petroleum storage, lead smelting, metal fabrication, and cargo shipping. Warehouses, labs, and other administrative or operational necessities were eventually constructed.

The island continues to be an operationally preferable spot for a number of businesses and organizations, such as Todd Pacific Shipyards and some of the Port of Seattle’s terminals and the waters surrounding Harbor Island have enough shellfish and crabs to support a notable fishing industry presence. There’s not a notable residence on the island, but the surrounding area’s residential areas offer sufficient housing, and the island’s close proximity makes for a really easy commute for those that work here.
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
2yrs+

"Cranes, Boats and Trucks"

The 1987 film, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (http://imdb.to/gyk8rf), would seem like a tropical paradise compared to being stranded on Harbor Island. Don't get me wrong, the place is valuable real estate for Seattle, but not a place you want to inhabit. Neal Page and Del Griffith would not even find a shabby hotel here, let alone a nice café. The “tongue” of the Duwamish River (http://bitly.com/9vZ9KQ), Harbor Island lies between the western and eastern industrial districts (http://bitly.com/fNE2zw), emerging slightly south of the West Seattle Bridge (http://bitly.com/bYearn).

History

An enormous undertaking by the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co., using soils from the Duwamish River and the Jackson Hill and Dearborn Street regrades. At 350 acres, it stood as the largest artificial island, for a while.

Demographics and Income

Believe it or not, according to one website (http://city-data.com), there are three inhabitants on the island. Not many details are know about these residents, except that their average salary exceeds that of Seattle’s median income. Maybe it pays to live on an industrial slab.

Local Business Tour (Restaurants, Pubs, Coffee Houses, Shops and other Amenities)

Economically, the city greatly depends on this floating industrial area. Todd Pacific Shipyards (http://pacificshipyards.com) is based here, as are the Port of Seattle terminals (http://bitly.com/hYZ5dj). Several container cranes dominate the eastern edge, with a simple network of roadways bringing up the western half. A drive through these streets around 7:30 a.m. will reveal hundreds of workers fleeing parked cars for their posts. It's a surreal experience exploring this floating empire, knowing that just minutes away families are enjoying the sands of Alki Beach (http://bitly.com/dqX2GC).

The place enjoyed a few years of fame earlier in the 20th century as the largest man-made island (~400 acres). That was temporarily taken away by Treasure Island (http://bitly.com/fWKqdF), then more recently possessed by Rokko Island in Japan (http://bitly.com/f9Q29P). Believe it or not, the 2000 census revealed three people inhabiting Harbor (Must have been crane operators who were trapped:)).

Driving either direction on the West Seattle Bridge will give a bird's-eye view of the island. Consider also the Spokane Street Bridge, which typically has less traffic.

Some other businesses that occupy the island are Rainier Petroleum (http://bitly.com/hHrMCf) - Specializing in large volume fuel storage of diesel and lubricants, Crowley Marine Services (http://crowley.com) - Assisting the marine industry with comprehensive logistical services, Pacific Sheet Metal & Roofing (http://pacificsheetmetal.com/) - Providing the highest quality sheet metal and commercial roofing materials for the last 50 years, and Bowhead Holding Company (http://bowhead.com) - Specializing in barge transport between Seattle and Northern Alaska. Some interesting finds that you may not suspect are Mountaineers Books (http://mountaineersbooks.org) - Established in 1960 to assist the adventures into the outdoors, Playaboule (http://www.playaboule.com) - A Bocce Ball company, and Jim Clark Marina (http://bitly.com/htLpzj). One lone restaurant dominates this man-made silt creation, Harbor Marina Deli (http://bitly.com/h6eXy7) - Higher prices and not-so-tasty dishes can be had due to the monopoly this venue holds.

Near the southeast corner of the island lies the 833rd Transportation Battalion (http://bitly.com/hZ3Emt). The scenery changes quickly as you head further west and to the south into the progressive Western Seattle (http://bitly.com/9DJqH9) portion of town.

Medical and Wellness Facilities

When writing this review, I highly doubted any medical office would exist here. I was dead wrong. There are two: Harbor Island Medical Clinic (http://bitly.com/fLe6VD) and the Puget Sound Institute of Pathology (http://psip.com).

Transportation Access and Tips

Gaining access to the island is straightforward, assuming you’re on Spokane Street. Otherwise, you’ll just be having a bird’s eye view via the West Seattle Bridge. Highway 99 is within reach, and Interstate 5 is also easily reachable. There are only a handful of streets on the island, with the main route looping back on itself. It’s very difficult to get lost navigating here.

Summary

Here you may not encounter a burned out car, grumpy escorts and blistering cold conditions like Neal and Del did, but Harbor Island boasts an industrial nature that can be an embarrassment to an environmentally-friendly place like Seattle. On the bright side, this activity discloses the importance of the Northwestern United States in the realm of world commerce.
Pros
  • An engineering marvel
  • Interesting place to visit once
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Loud
  • Virtually no amenities
3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
2yrs+

"One of the Unique Stories of Seattle's History"

Harbor Island, the largest manmade island in the world, is one of the places in Seattle that everyone knows about but few people know the story behind. Located where the Duwamish Waterway meets Elliott Bay, both the West Seattle Bridge and the Spokane Street Bridge pass over the island, though few Seattle residents ever have reason to visit here. There are no residential areas or permanent residents here, though about 10,000 people live within just one mile of the island.

The beginnings of the island stretch back more than a century. Around the beginning of the twentieth century, countless cargo ships dumped their ballast here when entering port. Building up over time, the city finally decided to build a permanent island here. Harbor Island, measuring over 400 acres, was completed in 1909, the result of regrading projects and dredging in the Duwamish River. The same activities that resulted in the completion of Harbor Island also built up the land now occupied by King Street Station and Union Station, Safeco Field and Quest Field, and the industrial heart of the city.

Since its completion, the island has been home to lead smelting, shipbuilding, cargo shipping, and other industrial activities. Todd Pacific Shipyards and the Port of Seattle's Terminal 18 are based on the island. The area around the island is used by many of Seattle's fishermen, mainly to catch crabs and shellfish.

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