Walking through Port Townsend can be a little disorienting. The landscape around the town is unmistakably Puget Sound – large expanses of water sparkling in the sun, Olympic Mountains to the west, Cascade Mountains to the east – but the town itself doesn’t look or feel like a small town of western Washington.
After walking a few blocks down Water Street, I realized that it didn’t really feel like I was in another place but another time. Port Townsend looks like I imagine early Seattle and San Francisco looked around the turn of the century. Instead of more humble buildings of brick or timber that the main street of most small Pacific Northwest towns have, Port Townsend has large, rather grand Victorian buildings lining its main historic street.
After I got home, I did some online research about Port Townsend to find out why it’s so different from other small towns. I discovered that Port Townsend is sometimes called “The City of Dreams” because there was early speculation that it would become the biggest harbor on the west coast. This was a dream that fell apart when the depression hit, preventing the railroad from connecting Port Townsend to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. It’s strange to imagine how different the largely uninhabited peninsula would be if Port Townsend had flourished into the city many people thought it would become. The whole Puget Sound region might be very different, with our population spread out to the coast instead of crammed into the Seattle metropolitan area.
Being the antisocial, people-avoiding person that I am, I can’t help think it would be better with most of the people over there rather than here. So, why don’t I just move there myself? As I told Don, Port Townsend would be a great place to retire…if you didn’t want your kids to visit you very often! The journey is very time-consuming, whichever way you go.
Because of the long journey required to get there, I didn’t have much time to take photos and just wildly snapped as we were walking through.
Because Port Townsend is on the Olympic Peninsula, you can drive to it, but it’s a long drive down through Olympia and back up the peninsula and part of the magic of Port Townsend is arriving by ferry where you get a great view of some of the larger historic buildings that sit up on the bluff and the water side of some of the buildings on Water Street.
Although Port Townsend is a small town, with a population of only 9,000-some, a few hours didn’t feel like enough time to see it. There are a lot of intriguing shops and another historic district that we only had time to drive through. While I greatly enjoyed our day trip, I felt a little rushed. I’d like to stay a couple of nights and have a whole day to explore. Maybe on our next anniversary.