Bellingham ( BEL-ing-ham) is the county seat and most populous city of Whatcom County in the U.S. state of Washington. Located 52 miles (84 km) southeast of Vancouver, British Columbia, 90 miles (140 km) north of Seattle, and 21 miles (34 km) south of the U.S.–Canada border, Bellingham is in between two major metropolitan areas, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. The city had a population of 80,885 as of the 2010 census and is estimated to have 92,314 in 2019.
The city of Bellingham was incorporated in 1903 through the consolidation of Fairhaven, Whatcom, Sehome and Bellingham: four historic towns that settled beside Bellingham Bay. The bay, where the present-day city and the former town of the same name derive their names from, was named Bellingham Bay by George Vancouver upon arriving to it in June 1792. Its namesake, Sir William Bellingham, was the Controller of Storekeeper Accounts of the Royal Navy during the Vancouver Expedition.
Today, Bellingham is the northernmost city with a population of more than 50,000 people in the contiguous United States. The city is a popular tourist destination known for its easy access to outdoor recreation in the San Juan Islands and North Cascades. Bellingham is undergoing redevelopment on more than 100 acres (40 ha) of former industrial land in its Waterfront District with a hotel, conference center, condos, retirement living, retail and commercial development planned for the site.
Prior to Euro-American settlement, Bellingham was in the homeland of Coast Salish peoples of the Lummi and neighboring tribes. The first Caucasian immigrants reached the area in 1854. In 1858, the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush caused thousands of miners, storekeepers, and scalawags to head north from California.