Literally just a hop, skip and a ferry ride from downtown Seattle, lies Bremerton, Washington. As a kid I recall happy visits to the shipyard, treating the USS Missouri like a backyard jungle gym. Founded in 1891 by one William Bremer, a shrewd German immigrant who got the ball rolling with the sale of 190 acres of land to the US government for the yard, Bremerton's never looked back. Although it had its heyday during WWII building and servicing ships for war in the Pacific theater, more than a century after its founding the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard continues its mission of military service.

In 1954 the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Museum opened in Bremerton to commemorate the defense work being done there. Established by the US Navy, the museum was staffed by shipyard employees until 1964 when it found a new home in the lobby of the Washington State Ferry Terminal. Today, after undergoing several name changes, the museum enjoys non-profit status, is housed in a historic building adjacent to the terminal and goes by the official moniker of the Puget Sound Navy Museum.

Although Bremerton has enjoyed national recognition as America's Most Liveable City, by all appearances the Great Recession has not been kind to her. While the Chamber of Commerce boasts about urban renewal, one need only venture from the shadow of the ferry terminal to witness the other Bremerton; this one of empty storefronts and neglected homes; this one void of the economic recovery its waterfront counterparts enjoy.

It's not all gloom, though. The city boomed during the war years, so there are lots of old neighborhoods ripe for improvement, and here and there are telltale signs that's beginning to happen. Empty storefronts spell opportunity for the entrepreneurial spirited, and a dragging economy can only get better, with the right investments. By all accounts the City of Bremerton is working to make that happen. With a little luck of the dice they may succeed, and perhaps Bremerton will regain her title as Most Liveable City. I know I'm pulling for her.