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Bellingham Business Signs
The Coast Salish and Lummi people inhabited what would become the northern most part of the state of Washington for thousands of years prior to European exploration. George Vancouver, an English Naval Commander, first explored the area in 1792.
Vancouver named the local bay after Sir William Bellingham, who at the time was the Royal Navy’s controller of the storekeeper’s account. The surname ‘Bellingham’ is of Anglo-Saxon origin and roughly translates to “the homestead of the dwellers of the bell-shaped hill.”
Americans would not settle Bellingham, WA until 1854. The Lummi people, in fact, were “relocated” following the controversial 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. In 1856, Captain George E. Pickett (who would one day become a famous Confederate General in the American Civil War) settled in the Bellingham, WA area. “Fort Bellingham” was originally built on Peabody Hill. The city of Bellingham, WA would not be officially incorporated until July 29th, 1904.
Today, according to a 2014 report by the US Census Bureau, the city of Bellingham, WA has a total population of 83,365 people. This makes Bellingham, WA the 389th most populous city in the country. Bellingham is the thirteenth largest city in the state of Washington. Interestingly, Bellingham, WA “is the northernmost city in the contiguous United States with a population of more than 50,000 residents.” According to that same 2014 US Census Bureau estimate, Bellingham, WA’s metropolitan area has a population of 206,353 people. This makes it the 210thmost populous metropolitan area in the United States. Bellingham, WA’s metropolitan area is the sixth largest in the state of Washington.
Due to Bellingham, WA’s proximity to the Canadian border, the city often sees huge quantities of Canadians visiting daily in order “to take advantage of relatively cheap gasoline, airfare, and other products.”
According to Bellingham, WA’s 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employer in the area is PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, which is responsible for 2,750 jobs. Coming in at second on the list is Western Washington University (WWU), which employs 1,072 people.
Western Washington University (WWU), which was founded in 1893 as ‘New Whatcom Normal School’, has a $57.1 million endowment, as of 2014. WWU is one of six public universities in the state of Washington. As of 2014, the university had a total of 15,060 students.
One of Bellingham, WA’s most famous attractions is the Pickett House. The Pickett House, which was built in 1856 to accommodate Captain George E. Pickett, future Confederate General, is the oldest house still standing in the city of Bellingham, WA. The Pickett House is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Bellingham, WA serves as the home for several minor league sports teams. West Coast Collegiate Baseball League’s Bellingham Bells play at Joe Martin Field. In 1999, the Bells were PIL Champions and National Baseball Congress World Series Participants. Bellingham Slam, who play in the International Basketball League at Whatcom Pavilion, have four championships to their name. Roller Derby’s Bellingham Roller Betties also play in Whatcom Pavilion. Northern Pacific Hockey League’s Bellingham Blazers play in Bellingham Sportsplex. The Blazers have two league titles to their name. Chuckanut Bay Geoducks, who play in the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union, play at Bellingham Rugby & Polo Fields.
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