Growth & Planning

Early Docks
One of the very first docks on the waterfront, the Ocean Dock was built by the Fairhaven Land Company in 1890 to serve local lumber interests. This was followed by the Sehome Wharf at the foot of Dock Street (now Cornwall Avenue), located south of where the city would later build the Municipal Dock in 1918. Other docks included the mile-long Colony Wharf (1883), the G Street Wharf (1897), and the cooperatively owned and operated Citizens Dock (1913).

Poor Planning & Sporadic Growth
By 1920, the waterfront was crowded with a confusing array of docks belonging to everything from private lumber mills and shipyards to local canneries. Bellingham, like so many new towns in the Pacific Northwest, was indelibly marked by its past of uncoordinated speculation and development.

As George Hunsby, Fairhaven resident from 1910 until his passing in 1996, once recalled, upon first moving to Fairhaven in the early 20th century, the streets “had been [laid] out by the various land plat developers,” and “as a result of the lack of cooperation among certain real estate promoters” as well as poor city planning, the streets were of varying widths and angles throughout the city. Like Bellingham, the early waterfront was marked by its sporadic, unplanned, and uncoordinated growth.

Next: Port Operations Begin