Langley began as a handful of individuals anticipated economic boom with the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad. Town founder, Jacob Anthes, platted the town in 1891 and named it for Judge James Langley, president of Langley Land and Improvement Company. Anthes Avenue ran to the long dock extending into Saratoga Passage where loggers loaded cord wood to the steam ships that supplied logging camps along the shore of the island.
The Depression of 1893 almost caused the town to collapse and then a storm severely damaged the dock in 1894. A new wharf was built at the present location in 1902 and steamers and tugboats began to return.
Interested in learning more about Langley’s colorful history? Visit the South Whidbey Historical Society’s museum on 2nd Avenue near Anthes. Or if you can’t visit the museum, take a virtual tour or visit their interactive building biographies.
Langley was supported by logging, then fruit orchards and berry crops. New families arrived and enterprise began, including the construction of a city water system and a local electricity generating plant.
Automobiles and ferries brought people to Langley Wharf until the ferry terminal was moved from Langley to Clinton, Deception Pass Bridge opened in 1936, and the Mosquito Fleet gradually disappeared.
World War II impacted the town and fishing resorts declined with the salmon population.
Langley was altered in the 1970s by an influx of young, educated and disenchanted individuals who brought the arts to town. Music, theater and and dining brought new vitality .
Langley was incorporated in 1913 and celebrated the Centennial all year long in 2013.
Discover the story on several buildings downtown through the history plaques.