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Captain George Vancouver, an English explorer for King George, founded Bainbridge Island in 1792 when he stumbled upon the south shore of the island. A Suquamish encampment had previously occupied the Island, and after many years they entered the Treaty of Point Elliot in which the Suquamish handed over their islands to the U.S. government.
In 1841, US Navy Lieutenant Wilkes visited the island when surveying the Northwest. He then named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge who was a commander of a frigate in the War of 1812. By the late 1800’s, the world largest sawmill was born in Port Blakely bringing mill workers from many different nations. Near the mill, many Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, and Indian communities were established, and Port Blakely grew to have large hotels, schools, foundry establishments (where metal is melted and poured into molds), and shipyards. The Hall Brother’s Shipyard, located in the town of Winslow, was worldwide known for building large shipping vessels mainly used for hauling lumber.
In 1942, after the Pearl Harbor attack, Bainbridge Island was one of the first communities to respond to Executive Order 9066, where many US citizens with Japanese ancestry were vanished from the island and taken inland to detention camps during WWII. The community was appalled by this order and gladly welcomed their neighbors home after the war.
Bainbridge Island consists of about 28 square miles and 48 miles of shoreline. As you look at the island from afar you can see the forested hills, the welcoming harbors, and private homes along the shoreline. The beautiful forest and beach surroundings are gorgeous, and it’s rare to find a spot on the island that doesn’t offer a spectacular view. Charming shops, country clubs and jogging trails abound on this lovely island.
Within the island population of about 21,000, you will find many friendly and diverse communities who value and preserve the island’s history, culture and beauty. Bainbridge is a close-knit community known for its excellent public schools many high-profile residents. As the island is located only 35 minutes by ferry from downtown Seattle, many residents find it a far more enticing commute to read the morning paper and watch the gentle waves of Puget Sound than to sit on the packed freeway. The majority of residents in Bainbridge find it an easy ferry commute to and from work, particularly those working in downtown or Belltown.
Close to the ferry dock, a very small handful of apartment complexes offer a perfect location, beautiful views and friendly neighbors. These apartments often have long waiting lists and can be extremely tough to get in to. Rental houses are also rarer on Bainbridge than on the mainland, but those that do come up are typically great finds. Rental pricing is typically $1.60 to $2.00 based on the location and view, but occasionally a more affordable option comes available – grab it if you find one.
Located on the island is a combination of farms, wineries, hiking trails and local arts. The town of Winslow offers many small town shops, restaurants, and other attractions for visitors and residents to enjoy. Some of those attractions include the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, the Farmers Market, and Waterfront Park. Bainbridge Island is also an excellent place to visit for a day trip – a scenic ferry ride, a stroll through the small towns and a round of golf at the Country Club can make for a beautiful day.