Aberdeen has long had a reputation in the Northwest of being one of the most depressed cities in the region. While this was especially true in the 1990s I'm not sure it really applies anymore. It isn't exactly thriving these days but it has stabilized and I think the worst of its economic decline is over.
Aberdeen grew rapidly with the regions' lumber industry from the 1890s to the 1920s. Dozens of saw mills lined the Grays Harbor waterfront in the early 1900s and Aberdeen became the most important port in Washington outside of the Puget sound. Aberdeen grew in tandem with nearby Hoquiam and Cosmopolis becoming the commercial and population center of a small metropolitan area. The great forests of western Washington were quickly consumed leading to the areas' decline in the 1930s. Nothing is left of those early sawmills aside from rows of pilings in the harbor. Aberdeen's peak population was 21,723 in 1930. The forest products industry was reduced but continues to be active in Aberdeen and the surrounding area. Aberdeen's current population is 16,371 and has been stable since the 1990s.
Almost all of the port and mill structures from Aberdeen's early 20th century boom period are gone. The port has been largely modernized and is now dominated by a pontoon construction dry-dock which is building pontoons for the new Lake Washington bridge. Downtown Aberdeen has a nice collection of early 20th century commercial buildings and the surrounding neighborhoods have an abundance of turn of the century mill worker homes. In the 1980s and 1990s, downtown Aberdeen was bleak and largely empty. As of 2014, the central area appears to be stable and in some areas is showing signs of new life. All tourist traffic heading to the Olympic peninsula from the south and east passes through Aberdeen providing a potential stream of customers for local business.
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