From its establishment in 1905, when it had a population of a lowly 400 or so, Kirkland has blossomed into a King County, Washington, city of over 40,000 people, a suburb of Seattle. Having celebrated its centenary in 2005 this small town has developed into a complex community of individualistic neighbourhoods with a plethora of parks, leisure facilities and shoreline walks with a history of woollen manufacture and shipbuilding along the lakeside. Artistic asset include a performing arts centre which can seat 400 people, a bronze sculpture collection, numerous art galleries and individualistic restaurants.
Kirkland almost became a steel town, which is perhaps just as well since it may well have shared the fate of many other steel producing areas in the world during this recession. Its founder, an Englishman called Peter Kirk heard that there were both iron and coal deposits in the area and, already owning steel works in Britain, he set out to make a fortune by manufacturing steel and shipping it out via the lake into the city. He might well have been extremely successful but for transportation problems; political differences meant that proposed railways were not built and a financial crisis towards the end of the 19th century brought the whole project to a halt after he had invested in thousands of acres of land locally. Kirk was deeply in debt and it was clear that the railways and canals that he needed to make the project viable were not going to be built but fortunately the price of land was still rising so he was able to sell it gradually over a long period of time, finally emerging financially comfortable after having overcome dreadful debts.
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