Port Townsend, Washington

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Port Townsend is a town in Jefferson County, Washington, United States, approximately 40 miles (64 km) north-northwest of Seattle. The population was 8,334 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat and only incorporated city of Jefferson County.[3] In addition to its natural scenery at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, the city is also known for the many Victorian buildings remaining from its late 19th-century heyday, numerous annual cultural events, and as a maritime center for independent boatbuilders and related industries and crafts. The Port Townsend Historic District is a U.S. National Historic Landmark District.

Contents

History

The bay was originally named "Port Townshend" by Captain George Vancouver (for his friend the Marquis of Townshend) in 1792. It was immediately recognized as a good, safe harbor although strong south winds and poor holding ground often make small craft anchorage problematic off the town's waterfront. The bay is now home to Naval Magazine Indian Island, the US Navy's primary munitions handling dock on the Pacific coast.

The official settlement of the city of the same name took place on the 24th of April, 1851. American Indian tribes located in what is now Jefferson County in the mid-19th century included the Chimakum (or Chemakum), Hoh (a group of the Quileute), Klallam (or Clallam), Quinault and Twana (the Kilcid band — Anglicized: Quilcene).

Port Townsend is also called the "City of Dreams" because of the early speculation that the city would be the largest harbor on the west coast of the United States.

By the late 19th century, Port Townsend was a well-known seaport, very active and banking on the future. Many homes and buildings were built during that time, with most of the architecture ornate Victorian. During this period, in 1888, the Port Townsend Police Department was established.

Railroads were built to reach more areas in the 1870-1890s and Port Townsend was to be the northwest extension of the rail lines. Its port was large and frequented by overseas vessels, so shipping of goods and timber from the area was a major part of the economy. Many of the buildings were built on the speculation that Port Townsend would become a booming shipping port and major city. When the depression hit, those plans lost the capital to continue and rail lines ended on the east side of Puget Sound, mainly in Tumwater, Tacoma and Seattle. With the other Puget Sound ports growing in size, Port Townsend saw a rapid decline in population when the Northern Pacific Railroad failed to connect the city to the eastern Puget Sound city of Tacoma. By the late 1890s, the boom was over. Without the railroad to spur economic growth, the town shrank and investors looked elsewhere to make a good return.

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