Friday, August 27, 2010

Paper Plats and City Trails in Port Townsend

Madison Street change over from street to trail, Port Townsend.

During early settlement of Washington a pattern of land claims was followed that still has impacts today. The approach was to file a homestead claim and then follow up with platting an entire community on said land so that "late" arrivals would have a home site. It was a profitable scheme if you could convince buyers that your plat was the place to be.
The plats often had no regard to land with street routes going over cliffs or into water. Many of the communities never developed, but others did move forward. Port Townsend on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula was ideally located for early settlement as it was just inside the Puget Sound inlet from the more open Strait of Juan de Fuca. However, significant portions of the city was platted in a manner without much regard to the slopes and is a good example of street and lots located on cliffs or unbuilable slopes. The number of streets is also much more than is needed. Lots have been created on some of these old streets, but of late Port Townsend has had a policy keeping those streets for open space and trail routes and in recent years has actively marked the old platted streets as city trails likely in part to prevent encroachment by neighboring property owners. The approach has left lots of open space within the urban portions of the city where lots area as narrow as 30 feet (many homes use two lots in those areas) and provides nice alternative walking routes.

No comments: