Anacortes, Washington
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Anacortes, Washington
Anacortes, Washington
View of the downtown and marina of Anacortes from the east
View of the downtown and marina of Anacortes from the east
Official seal of Anacortes, Washington
Skagit County Washington Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Anacortes Highlighted.svg
Coordinates: 48°30?7?N 122°37?25?W / 48.50194°N 122.62361°W / 48.50194; -122.62361Coordinates: 48°30?7?N 122°37?25?W / 48.50194°N 122.62361°W / 48.50194; -122.62361
CountryUnited States
 o TypeMayor-council
 o MayorLaurie Gere
 o Total15.65 sq mi (40.53 km2)
 o Land11.70 sq mi (30.30 km2)
 o Water3.95 sq mi (10.23 km2)
23 ft (7 m)
 o Total15,778
 o Estimate 
 o Density1,498.16/sq mi (578.45/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (PST)
ZIP code
Area code360
FIPS code53-01990
GNIS feature ID1511964[4]

Anacortes is a city in Skagit County, Washington, United States. The name "Anacortes" is an adaptation of the name of Anne Curtis Bowman, who was the wife of early Fidalgo Island settler Amos Bowman.[5] Anacortes' population was 15,778 at the time of the 2010 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included in the Mount Vernon-Anacortes Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Anacortes is known for the Washington State Ferries dock and terminal serving Lopez Island, Shaw Island, Orcas Island, and San Juan Island, as well as Victoria, British Columbia (via Sidney, British Columbia), on Vancouver Island. There is also a Skagit County-operated ferry that serves Guemes Island, a residential island located across Guemes Channel, north of Anacortes.


Anacortes is within the historical territory of the Samish people. The Samish Indian Nation's headquarters are in Anacortes. Lands that the Samish Nation owns within the city limits include its administrative campuses on Commercial Avenue and on Highway 20 in the Summit Park area; Fidalgo Bay Resort, site of landings during the annual Canoe Journey; the waterfront Cannery Building adjacent to Seafarers Memorial Park; the Samish Longhouse preschool and child care center; a proposed commercial development site on Highway 20 and Thompson Road; a two-acre housing development site on 34th Street; and a future cultural center site on 78 acres of trust land near Campbell Lake.

Anacortes was officially incorporated on May 19, 1891.

In 1877, railroad surveyor and town founder Amos Bowman moved his family to the northern tip of Fidalgo Island. Bowman began promoting the area as an obvious terminus for the Northern Pacific Railway as it was built through the north Cascades to the Pacific. Bowman established the town's first newspaper, The Northwest Enterprise, to promote his vision of the New York of the West.[6]

Seattle and Northern Company began building a rail line from the town in 1888. Real estate and development boomed from 1888 to 1890 as a result of the railroad rumors, and the Oregon Improvement Company posted $15 million in bonds to develop the town.[7]

Robinson Fisheries Co. codfish plant
Robinson Fisheries Co. fertilizer plant
Fish offal being dumped into a scow from a cannery in Anacortes, 1917

In 1891, the real estate bubble burst. Speculators lost money and the Oregon Improvement Company could no longer afford to complete tracks over the Cascades. The town failed to become the railroad terminus Bowman had envisioned.[8]

After the bust, the town became prominent for its fishing tradition, thriving canning industry, and timber mills.[8]


Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.53 square miles (40.22 km2), of which 11.75 square miles (30.43 km2) is land and 3.78 square miles (9.79 km2) is water.[9]


According to the Köppen climate classification system, Anacortes has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb) with cool, rainy winters and warm, dry summers.

Climate data for Anacortes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 65
Average high °F (°C) 45.1
Daily mean °F (°C) 39.8
Average low °F (°C) 34.5
Record low °F (°C) 6
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.56
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.1
Average precipitation days 17 13 14 12 9 8 4 5 8 12 17 17 136
Source: [10]


2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 15,778 people, 6,980 households, and 4,461 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,342.8 inhabitants per square mile (518.5/km2). There were 7,680 housing units at an average density of 653.6 per square mile (252.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.5% White, 0.7% African American, 1.0% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.6% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.0% of the population.

There were 6,980 households, of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.1% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.75.

The median age in the city was 47.2 years. 19.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.4% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 22.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.


The Majestic Inn, Anacortes, Washington

Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island. Rosario Strait and the San Juan Islands are to the West while to the South, Deception Pass separates Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. To the East, the Swinomish Channel separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland. The weather is milder than other areas of the Pacific Northwest, because it lies within the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Fidalgo Island gets 21 inches of rain per year, only half as much as Seattle.

First known as Ship Harbor, Anacortes was established with a name and a post office in 1879 in the vain hope that it would be selected as the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad. The town was officially incorporated in 1891 shortly after the railroad bust, and became a lumber and fishing center.

Workers at the Robinson Fisheries Co. skinning codfish in the Cutting and Skinning Department

In the 1950s, oil companies built big refineries near Anacortes. Two of the five refineries operating in Washington are located near the town. One is owned and operated by Marathon Petroleum (opened in 1955, it was originally built and owned by Shell Oil and later operated by Andeavor [formerly Tesoro]), operating as the Marathon Anacortes Refinery, the other was owned and operated by Shell Puget Sound Refinery Company (opening in 1957, and originally built and owned by Texaco). However, HollyFrontier is now in the process of buying the refinery. Refining remains the area's largest industry, but the economic base now includes yacht construction/shipbuilding, tourism, and residential services for the nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.


Anacortes has a mayor-council government with an elected mayor and seven city councilmembers, of whom three are elected from single member wards. The remaining four are elected at-large.

The city government operates a municipal broadband system that began operation as a pilot in late 2019 and will expand to the entire city in 2023.[13][14]

Recreation and tourism

The 619 Commercial Avenue building

Anacortes is a popular destination for boaters and those traveling on to the San Juan Islands. The city maintains a 220-acre (0.89 km2) city park on the northwestern end of Fidalgo Island named "Washington Park". This park features camping, boat launching, and majestic views of the San Juan Islands. The most prominent view is of Cypress Island. As a result of Anacortes' proximity to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the area provides opportunities for whale-watching. The waters off of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island offer numerous varieties of marine-life, including three resident Orca pods.

Anacortes Community Forest Lands, 2,800 acres (11 km2) with 50 miles (80 km) of mountain biking and hiking trails, are a rare amenity in a city the size of Anacortes. In adjacent Mount Erie Park, a number of rock climbing routes are popular on the cliffs of the south and west faces of Mount Erie. Mount Erie offers scenic vistas from its 1273-foot peak.[15]

Anacortes hosts many long-distance cyclists, as it is the western terminus of the Adventure Cycling Association's Northern Tier cross-country bicycle route, which ends in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Anacortes is also home to The Business, a record store and concert venue voted Washington state's best record shop.[16] Founded in 1978, the store is notable for its many musicians who have worked there, including Bret Lunsford, Phil Elverum and Karl Blau.[17] The Business is located in the Alfred Olson Building which is part of the National Register of Historic Places.[18]

Festivals and celebrations

  • "Shipwreck Day" is a popular single-day, flea market/town garage sale event held annually on the 3rd Saturday in July. City management accommodates the occasion by blocking off several downtown streets.[19]
  • What the Heck Fest was an annual festival coinciding with Shipwreck Day.[20] It began in 2001 and held its last festival in 2019. The festival took place at various locations in Anacortes a week in the middle of July. Performers presented music, movies, literature, and art. The thematic center of the festival is the dinner show that includes a full meal along with the concert, an actual community event.[21][22]
  • The first weekend of August hosts the Anacortes Arts Festival. Started in 1962 as the result of the efforts of a group of dedicated community arts patrons, the festival is held in the midst of blocked-off downtown main street areas. Vendors, merchants, and artisans present their wares in covered booths while jazz and blues musicians are showcased on four different stages.
  • The Oyster Run is an annual one day biker-friendly motorcycle rally held on the fourth Sunday of September. Beginning in 1981, the event has grown into the largest rally in the Pacific Northwest, with an estimated motorcycle count of 15000 bikes, and growing in numbers each year.[23]
  • The Anacortes Farmers Market began in 1989 and occurs every Saturday from May to October, with a special holiday market the weekend before Thanksgiving and monthly winter markets from January to April.

Notable people

Sister cities

Anacortes' sister cities are:[28][29]

See also


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Washington: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019". United States Census Bureau. May 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved 2008.
  5. ^ "Historical Timeline." Anacortes History Museum. July 10, 2006. Retrieved on August 14, 2007.
  6. ^ Southeast Seiners (April 22, 2011), Anacortes - The Perfect Port, retrieved 2016
  7. ^ " the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Anacortes History Introduction". Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ "ANACORTES, WASHINGTON (450176)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ Allison, Jacqueline (April 17, 2019). "Anacortes broadband plan taking shape". Skagit Valley Herald. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Nickelsburg, Monica (September 12, 2019). "This island town is building a public broadband network. Is it a model for bridging digital divide?". GeekWire. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ "Climbing Area: Mount Erie". Climbing Area Information. Washington Climbers Coalition. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  16. ^ "The Business Is The Best Record Store In Washington". Vinyl Me Please. 2018-04-11. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "The Microphones Biography". Southern Records. 2008-07-19. Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved .
  18. ^ Walker, Richard. "Housing Authority plans for Olson Building will require renovations costing millions". goSkagit. Retrieved .
  19. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ "I Went to What the Heck Fest and All I Got Was This Sort of Enlightening Communal Experience Heavily Rooted in the Mysterious Geography That Surrounds Anacortes, WA". The Stranger. Archived from the original on 2013-04-02. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "upcoming Mount Eerie shows, What the Heck Fest in WA".
  22. ^ "The Spokesman-Review - Google News Archive Search".
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-07. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Michael Arrington mike. "Michael Arrington - Anacortes, WA -". Retrieved 2016.
  25. ^ "Tess". Uncrunched. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ McCool's 'excitement was infectious' / Anacortes mourns shocking loss of generous, inspiring neighbor, Seattle P-I, February 3, 2003, retrieved
  27. ^ "Lowell A. Wakefield". Freelibrary. Retrieved 2015.
  28. ^ "Sister Cities". City of Anacortes. Retrieved .
  29. ^

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes