If you have spent any time on the Olympic Peninsula, you know the economy has seen better days. What once used to be numerous towns of thriving industry has been reduced to shells of their glory days. Towns that used to be rich from fishing and logging have vanished and little remains of the past greatness. The Olympic Peninsula was once a place of hope, wealth and dreams of prosperity and that is most evident in Port Townsend.
With a picturesque setting, Victorian era homes, and an actual downtown district, Port Townsend serves as a reminder to just how much people invested in their community. Even upon its inception as a city in 1851, it was dubbed with the Moniker “City of Dreams”, highlighting local speculation that it would be the largest Port City on the West Coast. Obviously, they aimed high. Buildings were built, streets were paved and a military base moved in, giving Port Townsend an economic bump, but it didn’t last long. As quickly as wealth and new business entered the region, it vanished. While the influx of wealth might be gone from the town, the dreams of prosperity are still evident in the architecture and walls of the city.
On the sides of building throughout Port Townsend, evidence of the economic boom is visible. Buildings over two stories tall are adorned with advertisements for various local stores and the products they carried. Called ghost signs or ghost murals, these huge ads are slowly fading from view with each season, soon to fade away from all of time. Luckily, the Jefferson County Historical Society, located in Port Townsend captured as many images as they could and made it available to the public.
If you are interested in seeing the old Murals and Signs of Port Townsend, the Jefferson County Historical Society has put together a great PDF that shows the buildings with advertising murals, as well as modern and historical pictures of the signs of commerce.
Click here for the awesome PDF: Ghost Murals of Port Townsend
Click here for more information on the the Jefferson County Historical Society: http://www.jchsmuseum.org/
PORT TOWNSEND QUICK FACTS
Best Place for a Picnic: Fort Worden State Park
Why: You can see seals, eagles, kayakers and even a few whales from this awesome Fort. While you do need a Discover Pass to experience it, this is one of the State Parks that makes it all worth while. Play in the old barracks, explore along the beach or take in the sights of ferry’s arriving and leaving the city near the lighthouse. Fort Worden is awesome, and if you spend a few minutes here, you will know why.
Best Place to Eat: Waterfront Pizza
Why: Few places in small towns have lines and wait times, but those that do are usually worth it. Waterfront Pizza is exactly that place. Some say it is the best pizza in America, but realistically it is the best pizza in a small town. The wait may be long, but the food is almost always worth it.
Movies filmed in the city: An Officer and Gentleman, The Ring
Why: Because Port Townsend is awesome and gave us this…
Quietest Place: The Dan Harpole Cistern at Fort Worden State Park
Why: According to Wikipedia “The cistern was drained in the 1950s when the Fort was closed, leaving an underground space more than 200 feet in diameter and 14 feet deep. This huge subterranean chamber has an acoustical reverberation time of around 45 seconds, and has attracted the interest of various musicians and recording.”
Oh, and it can be rented out: cistern-application
Seriously, go check out Port Townsend. It is a cool little city with serious history, amazing hikes and rad places to spend the day. Why not head up to this small town and see why it still lives up to the name “City of Dreams”