One might wonder if Port Angeles suffers from abandonment issues. People come here mainly to leave: whether by ferry to Victoria, Canada, or on excursions into the northern parts of Olympic National Park. Most of the town – propped up by the lumber industry and backed by the steep-sided Olympic Mountains – is strictly utilitarian, but the downtown core near the ferry dock has plenty of charm.
Named Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles by Spanish explorer Francisco Eliza in 1791 (the name was later anglicized), Port Angeles entered history in 1862 when president Abraham Lincoln created a navy and military reserve around the natural harbor and made it only the second planned city in the US (after Washington, DC). Though the fishing industry has declined in recent years, Port Angeles has added dynamism to its cultural life with a fine-arts center and numerous public sculptures.