Emerald City Blue
One of the largest, and most settled, islands of Outremer, Bainbridge Island has long been a suburban community for greater Seattle. Originally home to a logging and shipbuilding community, Bainbridge eventually incorporated into a single city (also called Bainbridge Island) and became a bedroom community for residents working in downtown Seattle, just a short half-hour ferry ride from the island. The ferry from Seattle lets off at Eagle Harbor in Winslow, little more than a sleepy tourist town.
Since the incorporation of the Seattle Metroplex, Bainbridge has remained a suburban community, with a slow, but steady increase in housing and population. This had led to friction between the island’s inhabitants and the metroplex government as demands for housing have increased, while residents wish to maintain their home’s natural spaces and beauty. These are also Bainbridge Island’s main attractions, allowing visitors to enjoy its parks, nature preserves, and biking and hiking trails. The island also offers boutique shopping and local crafts.
At 96 square kilometers, Vashon Island is the largest of the islands of Outremere, nearly larger than the other four combined. In the late 20th century, Vashon became a steadily growing suburb of greater Seattle, growth which accelerated after the incorporation of the Seattle Metroplex and the massive influx of refugees from the Ghost Dance War into the region. Still, Vashon Island properties remain fairly exclusive, and real estate prices are high compared to the mainland, much like neighboring Bainbridge Island.
Although it retains some of its small, organic farms, modern Vashon Island is best known for its involvement in the fashion and high-tech industries. The namesake Vashon Island Fashion Company made a splash in the 2040s with many of its neo-gothic and retrodeco designs and still maintains an outlet store along with main offices on Vashon Island. Pacific Research Laboratories developed some of the first artificial bone substitutes, and later bone-lacing techniques. It became a subsidiary of Shiawase and still remains a major employer on the island.
Vashon Island is also home to the Monastery of the All-Merciful Savior, one of the few remaining Russian Orthodox monasteries outside of Asia. The “Vashon monks,” as they are known, are famous for roasting and hand-blending their own brand of specialty coffee. We recommend the Byzantium Blend, one of the best Greek-style coffees you can find in North America!
For much of its history, Fox Island has been a point of contention between Native Americans and European settlers in Puget Sound. In the 1800s, during the Puget Sound War, the Puyallup and Nisqually Indians were displaced to Fox Island. Nisqually Chief Leschi came to the island with a flotilla of canoes to negotiate to end the war and the Treaty of Medicine Creek was renegotiated there. Years later, Fox Island became home to one of the U.S. government Re-Education Centers, holding numerous Native Americans displaced from their reservations.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Denver, the disposition of Fox Island remained in dispute for a number of years before the Sovereign Tribal Council and the Salish-Shidhe Council agreed to cede the island to the Seattle Metroplex. This caused difficulties with some NAN citizens already homesteading on the island, who were forced to either relocate or give up their citizenship. While most of the settlements were abandoned, a partisan movement to reclaim Fox Island threatened new communities there with terrorist violence. Although attacks have dropped off considerably in the years since, visitors are still advised to check with the Seattle Visitors Bureau and Knight Errant before planning an extended visit to Fox Island.
McNeil Island was named in honor of Captain William Henry McNeil of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1841. A later expedition named it “Duntze,” after Capt. John Duntze of the British Royal Navy, but the earlier name was restored the following year. The United States government opened a federal penitentiary here in 1875, and bought up the remaining land on the island 62 years later, with the last residents relocating. The State of Washington took over the McNeil Island Corrections Center in 1981, and it passed into the control of the Seattle Metroplex upon its founding, in agreement with the accords of the Treaty of Denver. To deal with overcrowding in the metroplex, the Seattle government re-opened McNeil Island to private habitation, while maintaining the Corrections Center. Some private homes have been established on the island, primarily on the eastern side and around Still Harbor.
McNeil Island features some pleasant natural surroundings and boutique shopping in its small shoreline communities, but otherwise lacks much in the way of attractions for tourists.
Anderson Island was originally the home to a logging community, later transformed into a summer vacation spot by real estate developers. Following the incorporation of the Seattle Metroplex, real estate prices on the island dropped, but then rose sharply as land and housing came into greater demand. Much of Anderson Island is still made up of private homes and estates, valued at well over two-hundred times their initial purchase value about seventy years ago.
Fortunately for visitors, Anderson Island includes many rental properties as well, allowing vacationers to enjoy the laid-back island lifestyle, including ample boating and fishing, golfing, areas of untouched wilderness, and small community charm.