Friday, April 12, 2019


If you're going to build a town on the water, it makes sense to find a piece of ground that's low enough to allow easy access to the town pier, yet high enough so the town doesn't flood every December. You want to pick a shoreline sheltered from the prevailing winds on a relatively protected bay.

Building over the water made sense in a 19th-century maritime community and the high bank lead to buildings that sort of spill over the bluff -- people and wagons approached on the upper floors, boats pulled up below. Stairs and hoists and gangways connected the two. Early Seattle - along the central waterfront - developed similarly. As did many towns in many other parts of the world.

In many places - Langley, Seattle - development eventually led to foundations being built to replace the piles or to the beach being filled behind a community seawall of some sort. Some of this happened here in Coupeville, too, but in some spots the beach remains, between and beneath the buildings.

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