The Anacortes water front faces east and like many water fronts consists of a swath of fill over the former tide lands. The filling of the tide lands took place relatively recently.
Highway 20 is the broad road on the south. The highway comes to a T intersection and then heads north on Commercial Avenue, the main street of Anacortes. The paper mill is the large industrial complex that extends out into the water on a mix of fill and piers.
The big changes began in the 1970s. A rock sea-wall was constructed and the bay to the east was dredged for shipping to the refineries located to the east if Anacortes at March Point. The dredged material was pumped and dumped behind the wall to create new land. The 1978 aerial captures the late sated of the filling project. Note as well the small homes that had been on the northeast part of the 1969 image had mostly been removed.
The initial use of the filled land had begun and the land back behind the fill to the west was beginning to develop as light industrial land. The development on the fill area itself was and still is a boat yard.
Over the past twenty years the industrial land has developed. A significant part of that development has been boat related businesses. Several of those large buildings are boat manufacturing businesses. The paper mill is now gone and a significant amount of cleanup has taken place around the mill site.
The remaining portion of the filled are is likely to be used as a boat yard. A part of the "new land" is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as it was formerly state owned tideland.