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Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham is the county seat of Whatcom County, Washington. It is situated on Bellingham Bay, which is protected by Lummi Island, Portage Island, and the Lummi Peninsula. It lies west of Mount Baker and Lake Whatcom (from which it gets its drinking water) and Whatcom Creek runs through the center of the city. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 67,171.

The current boundaries of the city have grown to add the former cities of Fairhaven (now home to the southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System), New Whatcom, and several others.

It is also home to Western Washington University.

The foothills around Bellingham were clearcut after the great San Francisco earthquake to provide the lumber for the rebuilding of San Francisco.

In June of 1999, the Olympic Pipeline, which carries gasoline and jet fuel from refineries near Ferndale to the Sea-Tac airport, ruptured in Bellingham in the Whatcom Falls Park near Whatcom Creek, leaking about 1 million gallons of gasoline into the creek. The vapor layer from this overcame an 18 year old man who was fishing in the creek, and two younger boys who were playing with fireworks ignited the vapor, setting off an explosion that burned over a mile of the creek bed. Due to road closures and evacuations around the creek, although some buildings were destroyed, there were no further fatalities than these three (the younger boys died the next day from extensive burns over most of their bodies). At this writing, both criminal and civil cases are pending on this matter.


Bellingham is located at 48°45'1" North, 122°28'30" West (48.750178, -122.474975)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 82.2 km² (31.7 mi²). 66.4 km² (25.6 mi²) of it is land and 15.8 km² (6.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 19.19% water.


As of the census1 of 2000, there are 67,171 people, 27,999 households, and 13,999 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,011.5/km² (2,619.3/mi²). There are 29,474 housing units at an average density of 443.8/km² (1,149.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 87.88% White, 0.98% African American, 1.48% Native American, 4.25% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 2.16% from other races, and 3.08% from two or more races. 4.63% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 27,999 households out of which 23.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.5% are married couples living together, 9.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 50.0% are non-families. 33.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.24 and the average family size is 2.83.

In the city the population is spread out with 17.7% under the age of 18, 23.8% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $32,530, and the median income for a family is $47,196. Males have a median income of $35,288 versus $25,971 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,483. 20.6% of the population and 9.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 17.2% are under the age of 18 and 9.0% are 65 or older.