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USA: Washington: Port Townsend
Port Townsend, Washington, USA: Living an era gone by
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Port Townsend is a vacation destination and a hub to other fascinating places. It is famous for its splendid Victorian architecture and waterfront setting on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
I was in Tacoma, Washington State, for a business conference. Prior to our meetings, I was hosted by the folks from Visit Seattle on a 4-day visit of the Olympic Peninsula. Our group assembled at Sea-Tac international airport. We had a big bus at our disposal and we were in the safe hands of John Burnett, the owner of Premier Coaches Northwest, who was also our driver for the rest of the tour.
After a working breakfast, we left at 11:30 for the ferry terminal in Seattle.
Though one can drive around the peninsula, it makes sense to use Washington State Ferry to cross the Puget Sound. Along with scores of other cars and vans, the ferry took our bus in for a beautiful 40-minute cruise to Bainbridge. Passengers do exercise their options of locking their vehicles and enjoying the cruise on ferry’s many decks.
We reached Port Townsend in an hour’s time.
Like many young communities in the Puget Sound, Port Townsend aspired to greatness. Calling itself the “Key City” and the “New York of the West,” Port Townsend quickly became a bustling seaport and customs gateway to the Pacific Northwest, with an impressive waterfront commercial district of stone and brick buildings and many elegant Victorian homes on the bluff.
Although economic activity shifted from Port Townsend to Seattle, much of the 19th Century and early 20th Century remains intact. In 1976, the waterfront district and the residential area on the bluff were designated a National Historic District, and Port Townsend is today recognized as one of only three Victorian Seaports on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area is home to many of the best boat building and maintaining craftsmen and women in the world. Many of the marine trades firms specialize in working with wooden boats of all eras. Others do much of their work with more modern materials and leading edge technologies. Port Townsend is home to the renowned Wooden Boat Festival – the first and largest such gathering in North America, and now a year-round destination and resource for wooden boat enthusiasts worldwide thanks to the activities of the Northwest Maritime Center.
The Jefferson Museum of Art & History is located in the 1892 Port Townsend City Hall building on Water Street. Exhibits in the former municipal court room, fire hall and jail spaces illustrate the lively history of communities born in waterfront forests over 150 years ago. The building is still a working City Hall. We had the opportunity to meet David King - the city's Mayor.
Sitting on the water’s edge is Chetzemoka Park. It’s a ten acre park like setting located along Jackson Street between Garfield and Roosevelt Streets. The park is known by locals as the crown jewel of the city due in part by its views of the Cascade Mountain range and Admiralty Inlet.
We had some free time on hand to explore the town on our own.
Shops and galleries abound both downtown and uptown. It’s easy to spend a day sauntering through the stores and discovering treasures. As an artists’ community, the creativity of the locals is celebrated at every turn. It’s also a haven for artists to come and spend time honing their art, whether that’s as a writer, musician, painter, sculptor, dancer or actor, this is a place to nourish one’s creativity.
Dinner that evening was hosted at Belmont Restaurant on Water Street overlooking the waters. Post dinner, an hour’s drive brought us to Red Lion Hotel at Port Angeles – our home for the night.
Port Townsend Image Gallery Photo viewer
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