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EDMONDS — The city of Edmonds has grown to become the third-largest city in Snohomish County and a transportation hub for the region. One thing that hasn’t changed since the early days, however, is its connection to the water.

Residents can enjoy more than five miles of public waterfront, including the popular Marina Beach Park. A Washington State Ferries terminal bustles with travelers making connections to Kingston. And the Edmonds Marsh is one of the few urban saltwater estuaries in the area.

Edmonds hugs Puget Sound in the southwest corner of Snohomish County, and its downtown sits in what residents call the Edmonds Bowl.

“From much of the downtown area, you’re able to see Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains due to the geography of the area,” says Greg Urban, president and CEO of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. “We have a stellar waterfront, a world-class port and the most beautiful sunsets over Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula.”

Urban has been with the Chamber of Commerce since 2010, and lived in downtown Edmonds for five years. He says the city has a strong sense of community.

“It is a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” he says. “When you walk, you see familiar faces and are able to say hello and get one back.”

The population of Edmonds ranks third in Snohomish County, behind Everett and Marysville, and it’s the oldest incorporated city in the county. Logger George Brackett founded Edmonds in 1890, after spotting the location years earlier while paddling a canoe north of Seattle in search of timber.

The city’s past has been in the spotlight recently, thanks to the reopening of the Edmonds Historical Museum after several months of renovations. The refurbished museum space is reminiscent of how the building looked in 1910, when it was the city’s first library.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census, nearly 40,000 people live in Edmonds. The city’s population has increased only slightly since the 2000 count, but there is new-home construction occurring in the area.

Pacific Ridge Homes, for example, is building 50 homes at the Preserve at Meadowdale Beach and 27 more at Meadowdale Vista.

Size and location combine to make Edmonds what Urban calls a “big little city” — bustling enough to have an events calendar packed with community celebrations, yet still considered by many to be a quiet bedroom community to Seattle and Everett.

“We have restaurants, shops, 30-plus parks, and a wealth of arts-related businesses and organizations,” he says.

One of the city’s biggest community events is coming up June 13—15. The Edmonds Arts Festival takes place at the Frances Anderson Cultural Center on Main Street, but it’s only a part of the city’s love affair with art.

The Edmonds Arts Commission has spearheaded an effort to integrate art into the daily lives of residents through the year-round Third Thursday Art Walk, as well as a self-guided walking tour of art and numerous public-art installations.

The center of town is anchored by Cedar Dreams, a fountain art installation with elements that refer to the history of the area.

For residents looking to make transit connections in any direction, Edmonds offers many options. In addition to the Kingston ferry, commuters can use Highways 99 and 524 to reach major freeways, or use the Community Transit bus system.

From the Sound Transit Edmonds Station, Amtrak and Sound Transit rail service regularly offer trips to the north, south and (in the case of Amtrak) east.