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The City of Port Townsend

Port Townsend 300X200Port Townsend is a city in Jefferson County, Washington, United States. The population was 9,113 at the 2010 census, an increase of 9.3% over the 2000 census. It is the county seat and only incorporated city of Jefferson County. 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 boat builders and related industries and crafts.
Because of the speed at which the economy declined in the 1890’s and the lack of any industry to replace it, none of the Victorian buildings were torn down or built over in the intervening period. They were essentially preserved for nearly 100 years, when the value of protecting them was appreciated and fostered.
The Port Townsend Historic District, an area including many Victorian-era buildings, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.


Port Townsend history 300X292The history of the Port Townsend and Jefferson County area began thousands of years ago as home to the S’Klallam and Chimacum Tribes in East Jefferson County and the Hoh and Quinault Tribes in far west Jefferson County. The city was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, and its identity as a Victorian Seaport (one of only three designated by the National Register of Historic Places) is readily apparent as one strolls downtown among the Victorian era buildings. In the 1850s, Chief Chetzemoka’s people lived near the white settlers, and Chetzemoka Park, one of Port Townsend’s most beautiful, is named for him. Its commanding views of the Cascade Mountains, the many flower gardens, water garden, play areas, bandstand, and beach access makes it a local favorite.


Port Townsend shopping 300X290Port Townsend is a shopping destination for residents of the Olympic Peninsula. It is proudly free of big box retailers and instead sports many fine small boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, and restaurants that line downtown and uptown. Gallery 9 hosts local artists whose paintings, handbags, woodwork, photography, and pottery await your perusal. Stop by Earthenworks for fine glass, metal, ceramics, and woodwork. The aroma of deliciousness will surely draw you across the street to Waterfront Pizza where you can grab a quick slice. Proceed to Sirens for creative cuisine and live music up close and personal, voted the best music venue in Jefferson County. If you’re up for a movie, visit the Rose Theater where an actual human being introduces every film. Stop by the Port Townsend Co-op for organic food shopping, the Lively Olive for fine olive oils and vinegars, and Quimper Mercantile, a community-owned retailer. Shopping abounds in Port Townsend.


Port Townsend outdoors 300X226Port Townsend is surrounded with opportunities for outdoor excursions, like all small cities on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic National Park and its opportunities for sightseeing, hiking, and mountain climbing is close by. You don’t even have to leave downtown Port Townsend to find outdoor adventure, however. Bring your kayak, push off from one of the many launches just off Water Street, and spend an afternoon paddling about the bay. Bicyclists will find miles of scenic byway around Port Townsend and on Whidbey Island, a quick ferry ride across Admiralty Inlet. The Olympic Discovery Trail and Larry Scott Trail are suitable for both walking and biking. Try Fort Worden for its many miles of forested trails along with World War II era bunkers there and at Fort Casey, in nearby Coupeville. Walk about Port Townsend on your own architectural tour of lovely restored Victorian homes that overlook Admiralty Inlet and the Cascade Mountains.


Port Townsend is home to events famous nationwide. Centrum brings world-class musicians to its many festivals including the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, Jazz Port Townsend, Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival, and others. Centrum is also well-known in writers’ circles for having one of the best summer writers’ workshops in the country. Port Townsend is also famous for its Film Festival every September. Famous actors and directors attend each year such as Debra Winger of An Officer and a Gentleman, which was filmed in Port Townsend. The Wooden Boat Festival is always a popular draw too. If your taste is bit more whimsical, attend local favorite The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race. Teams of artists build human-powered sculptures that must navigate the Kourse on city streets, float in the bay, strain through sand pits, and slog through mud pits. Attend the Glorious Parade at Low-Noon and the Kween Koronation Ball the evening before the race. There is never a dull moment in Port Townsend.

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