Gig Harbor, Washington

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Gig Harbor is the name of both a bay on Puget Sound and a city on its shore in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 6,465 at the 2000 census.

Gig Harbor is one of several cities and towns that claim to be "the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula". Due to its close access to several state and city parks, and historic waterfront that includes boutiques and fine dining, it has become a popular tourist destination. Gig Harbor is located along State Route 16, about six miles (10 km) from its origin at Interstate 5, over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A 1.2 billion dollar project to add a second span to the bridge was recently completed.[3] During off-peak traffic times, Tacoma can be reached in five minutes and Seattle in half an hour.

Based on per capita income, Gig Harbor ranks 49th of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked.

Contents

History

During a heavy storm in 1840, Captain Charles Wilkes brought the Captain's gig (small boat) into the harbor for protection. Later, with the publication of Wilkes 1841 Map of the Oregon Territory, he named the sheltered bay Gig Harbor.

1867 brought fisherman Samuel Jerisich to the Gig Harbor area, along with many other immigrants from Sweden, Norway, and Croatia.

Gig Harbor was officially incorporated on July 12, 1946. Commercial fishing, boat building, and logging dominated the economy until the construction of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Until then, the primary method of transportation between Gig Harbor and the economic center of nearby Tacoma was by steamship. Starting in 1836 steamships started plying the waters of Puget Sound and quickly developed into what was eventually dubbed "The Mosquito Fleet." Gig Harbor, isolated from Tacoma and Seattle by Puget Sound and the Tacoma Narrows, could not be reached by automobile or horseback except via a very long and arduous trip south around Puget Sound and Hammersly Inlet. Unfortunately, the boom was to be short lived as the first bridge collapsed just months after it was completed. The resource demands of World War II prevented another bridge from being built until 1950. Between the time when the first bridge collapsed and when the second bridge was completed, a state run ferry service delivered drivers directly into downtown Gig Harbor. Remains of the ferry dock can still be seen just outside the mouth of the harbor at the Southeast end of Harborview Drive. The area has been turned into a small park where the public can see a panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains, Pt. Defiance, and Mt. Rainier.

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