Oak Harbor is Whidbey Island's largest incorporated city. Named for the Garry Oak trees which grace its skyline. The city's growth coincided with two major events: the building of Deception Pass Bridge on July 31, 1935, and the completion of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on September 21, 1942. Oak Harbor's history goes back to the early 1850s, when two settlers staked claims where the city now stands—Zakarias Toftezen, a shoemaker from Norway; C.W. Sumnerfrom New England.
Houses and businesses sprouted up along the shores of Oak Harbor as the pioneers relied entirely on water transportation until the 1900s. For the next thirty years, steamers and freighters carried passengers and freight from the Island to the mainland and back as well as Fidalgo Island to the north.
The Irish came in the late 1850s, making Oak Harbor grow and prosper as they fished and farmed the area, and the city's Dutch heritage arrived in the 1890s. Churches, schools, and more businesses followed the arrival of the Dutch. A high school was built in 1906. Oak Harbor flourished as a small country town until Deception Pass Bridge and the U.S. Navy Base connected the city to the rest of the region and the world.
Deception Pass Bridge, a National Historic Monument since 1982, is actually two spans that link Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island over Canoe Pass and Deception Pass. The bridge, one of the scenic wonders and destinations of the Pacific Northwest, was a Public Works Administration project built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Deception Pass State Park has over 4,100 acres (17 km2) of forest, campsites, trails, and scenic vistas of the San Juan Islands, Victoria (British Columbia, Canada), Mount Baker, and Fidalgo Island.
Oak Harbor sits at an elevation of 92 feet above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.47 square miles (24.53 km2), of which, 9.42 square miles (24.40 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water. Access to the island by land is only available by driving through Deception Pass. Other ways to travel to Whidbey Island include flying or utilizing a ferry service. The Mukilteo-Clinton Ferry provides service connecting the southern end of Whidbey Island.
Oak Harbor is located at 48°17′42″N 122°39′31″W (48.295136, -122.658553).
Oak Harbor's climate is cool during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 50's and cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 40's.
The warmest month of the year is August with an average maximum temperature of 66.60 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 34.70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature variations between night and day tend to be fairly limited during summer with a difference that can reach 16 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 12 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual average precipitation at Oak Harbor is 20.24 Inches. Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is November with an average rainfall of 3.06 Inches.
As of the 2010 census, there were 22,075 people, 8,677 households, and 5,789 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,343.4 inhabitants per square mile (904.8/km2). There were 9,553 housing units at an average density of 1,014.1 per square mile (391.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 72.6% White, 4.9% African American, 0.9% Native American, 10.2% Asian, 1.0% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 7.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.3% of the population.
There were 8,677 households of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.3% were non-families. 26.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.09.
The median age in the city was 29 years. 28.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 31.9% were from 25 to 44; 17% were from 45 to 64; and 10.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.2% male and 50.8% female.
The Oak Harbor Police Department provides policing for the community.
There are clinics in the town for healthcare purposes as well as the Naval Hospital at Naval Air Station Whidbey island. Whidbey Health Medical Center is located in Coupeville and Island Hospital in Anacortes.
The main portion of the base, Ault Field, is about three miles north of Oak Harbor. The other section, called the Seaplane Base for the PBY Catalina flying boats once based there, holds most of the island's Navy housing as well as the air station's main Navy Exchange and DeCA Commissary. The NASWI commanding officer also has command of a lightly used satellite airfield, Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Coupeville, on central Whidbey Island, roughly nine miles south of Ault Field. Primarily used for Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) by carrier-based jets, this field has no permanently assigned personnel.