City History

A Snapshot of Lake Forest Park

A Map of Lake Forest Park and Surrounding Communities

A Map of Lake Forest Park and Surrounding Communities

Lake Forest Park is located in northern King County, adjoining the northwestern shoreline of Lake Washington. Lake Forest Park is almost three and a half square miles in area (3.53 SQ MI LAND), bordered by the City of Seattle to the south, the City of Shoreline to the west, the City of Mountlake Terrace and the City of Brier to the north, and the City of Kenmore to the northeast (see map). Defining natural features include the Lake Washington shoreline, the slopes and watercourses that drain to Lake Washington, and the city’s extensive forest canopy.

Lake Forest Park has a population of about 13,266 (2016 estimate, US Census). The City had its beginnings as one of the first planned communities in King County and was originally platted in 1910 around natural features and existing terrain. The community was marketed as a residential retreat into nature for professionals of nearby Seattle. In 1961, the area was incorporated as the City of Lake Forest Park when residents united in response to increasing development pressure. Today, preservation of the natural surroundings continues to be an important value in Lake Forest Park.

Native Americans

A seasonal village of Snohomish is though to have existed in a marsh area between Lyon Creek and McAleer Creek, near the current location of the Town Center at Lake Forest Park. Children of early residents recall finding abandoned dugout canoes in the area.

Early Land Owners, Land Patentees

The earliest land patents in the area now known as Lake Forest Park started in 1864, with the Fred Drew Patent.

Lake Forest Park - Early Land Patents

Lake Forest Park – Early Land Patents (Growing Up With Lake Forest Park, Early Decades in “North Seattle”)

John M. Lyon (1870) obtained a land near the mouth of Lyon Creek on Lake Washington. Other early patentees include Jacob Frauenthal (1871), Joseph Williamson (1872), George Fisher (1872), John Keeven (1883).

Early land owners typically allowed the lands to be logged for a fee by the local timber mills.

Logging, Roads and Rails

The earliest name for Lake Forest Park was “Lyons”. The landing at Lyons was the end of a “skid row”, named after the freshly‑cut logs that were skidded downhill into the lake.

The Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway Co completed a railroad line north from Seattle and over to Bothell and Woodinville in 1888. This line had one station near Lyons called “Terrance” which was close to the native seasonal village as well as to where the current roads of SR 104 (Ballinger Way) and SR 522 (Bothell Way NE) meet today.


From “Lake Forest Park — Thumbnail History”

Ole Hanson (1874-1940), along with his wife’s nephew, A. H. Reid, incorporated the North Seattle Improvement Company in 1909 with an eye to the future. The population of Seattle was burgeoning, and more and more people were moving outside the city limits. Hanson saw the real estate potential in the outlying area, and started buying up land. He hired civil engineer B.E. Corlett to create the plat of what would become Lake Forest Park.

“The Park,” as many still call it in the late 1990s, was laid out along the contours of the hillsides. The pristine topography and the remaining trees received prime consideration in determining lot size and location. Even the name “Lake Forest Park” stressed the three rustic elements of the new community.

By 1910, Hanson created a stunning promotional brochure, calling attention to the benefits of buying a home in Lake Forest Park: “Here the laughing waters will forever make gladsome the hearts of the sylvan dwellers,” proclaimed the text, which was interspersed with photos by noted photographer Asahel Curtis.

Hanson did not want his community to be a playground for the rich. Anyone who could buy a lot was free to build a home, as long as it wasn’t a saloon, shack, store, roadhouse, or apartment house. This was a residential park, especially for people who had cars. Paving the road from Seattle had already begun.

by Alan J. Stein Posted 12/05/1998, Essay 419


From “Lake Forest Park incorporates on June 20, 1961”

But the little paradise had a problem. Seattle was growing and its northern suburbs were expanding toward Lake Forest Park. People saw the urban sprawl headed their way and debated how to deal with it. When plans were announced to build a shopping center on a 17-acre tract of land on the northwestern corner of the intersection at Bothell Way NE and Ballinger Way NE, locals came together to incorporate the little community as a fourth-class town and to try to stop development of the shopping center. The county merely excluded the tract from the boundaries of the proposed town and allowed development of the shopping center to proceed, but Lake Forest Park likewise proceeded with its incorporation election.

The election took place on June 6, 1961, and was not without the chicanery that often occurs in municipal incorporations. The morning before the election, residents discovered that more than 100 pro-incorporation signs had been torn down in their yards. Pro-incorporation forces complained even more loudly on Election Day when they learned that the three judges conducting the election were all opposed to incorporation. Yet in the end the fuss was for naught. Incorporation passed handily, with more than 57 percent of nearly 600 voters voting yes, and it became official on June 20. Four days later, the town celebrated with a “fun frolic” and also swore in its first mayor, Francis Holman, and its first town councilmen: Dr. Cecil Feasel, James Hunt, Herbert Metke, Robert Middleton, and E. E. Raymond.

by Phil Dougherty, Posted 10/05/2015, Essay 11123

Lake Forest Park Library, King County Library System

The Lake Forest Park Library opened in the newly built Forest Park Center mall on June 20, 1965, four years after the city incorporated. Created in 1910 as one of King County’s first planned residential communities, Lake Forest Park, located on the north end of Lake Washington, has retained the beauty of its natural woodland and waterfront setting. In 1956 citizens strongly opposed a county rezoning plan to allow commercial development, primarily a mall. When residents lost the battle in 1961, they voted to incorporate the town in hopes of having a voice in decisions regarding further development. Lake Forest Park Library was the first King County Library System (KCLS) library to open in a mall and while it has had four different locations — the most recent opened in 2012 — it has always remained in what is currently known as Town Center at Lake Forest Park. Over the years Town Center has become an important community place, with Third Place Books and other businesses partnering with the Lake Forest Park Library, Third Place Commons, and a branch of Shoreline Community College. In 2015 the Lake Forest Park Library celebrated 50 years of service.

By Margaret Riddle, Posted 11/16/2016 Essay 20199

City of Lake Forest Park – History Timeline

City of Lake Forest Park – Municipal Services Department – Historical Timeline

Town Center at Lake Forest Park – 50 years

LFP 50 – a visual history of the Lake Forest Park Town Center from Third Place Commons on Vimeo.



Other Online Resources about Lake Forest Park