On the shores of Bellingham Bay with Mount Baker as its backdrop, Bellingham is the last major city before the Washington coastline meets the Canadian border. The City of Bellingham, which serves as the county seat of Whatcom County, is at the center of a uniquely picturesque area offering a rich variety of recreational, cultural, educational and economic activities.
Bellingham, Washington is about 90 miles north of Seattle, 21 miles south of the Canadian border and about 52 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. The City encompasses about 28 square miles, with north Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to the west and snow-capped Mount Baker and the North Cascade mountains to the east.
Bellingham residents are passionate about community life. Strategic investments in parks, trails and preserved open spaces offer recreation and respite, and help the community grow gracefully as the population increases. Numerous public/private partnerships support the burgeoning arts and cultural district downtown and elsewhere. Bellingham’s active waterfront hosts a range of marine activities, with significant change on the horizon as area community leaders and residents consider options for development.
Prior to white settlement, the Lummi, Nooksack and other Coast Salish tribes thrived on the natural resources of what would eventually become Bellingham. English Captain George Vancouver first explored the area in 1792 and named Bellingham Bay for Sir William Bellingham, Vancouver's British Navy provisioner. Small communities came and went on the shores of Bellingham Bay through boom and bust cycles during the 1800s. The City of Bellingham incorporated in 1904 after the populations of four adjacent bayside towns voted to consolidate. Bellingham's historic character is remarkably well-preserved, with a large number of historic buildings downtown, in Fairhaven's Historic District, and in adjacent neighborhoods.