GSA’s Point Roberts Border Station is Located in One of America’s Most Unique Cities

A pene-enclave is similar to an enclave except that it can only be reached by passing through another area. Point Roberts, Wash. is a pene-enclave. It’s also home to one of GSA’s most unique Land Ports Of Entry (LPOE).

When the border between the United States and Canada was established as the 49th parallel it cut straight through the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. This created the chunk of U.S. territory where Point Roberts is located, U.S. territory that cannot be reached by land from the U.S. In fact, the only way to travel to Point Roberts from Washington is by passing through one international border station into Canada, driving 25 miles, and passing through the Point Roberts Border Station into the U.S.

This is the same route buses use to transport American schoolchildren in Point Roberts home from school once they reach fourth grade. Since Point Roberts Primary School, the only school in the town, only goes to third grade, American schoolchildren must drive 40 minutes to Blaine, Wash., for fourth grade and higher. This means they cross the border four times a day during the school week.

Port Roberts Infographic







Caption: This map is from

Point Roberts Border Station

In the early 1930s, seven new border stations were built along the Washington/British Columbian border, including a small facility at Point Roberts. This construction program was part of a nationwide effort to stem increased smuggling brought about by Prohibition (1920 – 1933).

There have been three Point Roberts Border Station facilities since then. The first was built in the 1930s, the second was built in the 1950s, and the current facility was built in 1996. The current Point Roberts Border Station is an L-shaped, 2.13 acre LPOE located at the intersection of Roosevelt Way and Tyee Drive. The latter road is the only authorized land access to Canada from Point Roberts.

Although Point Roberts is a small community–about 1,300 people–the LPOE is the 12th busiest U.S.-Canadian border station of the 88 along the northern border. This is because the town is a popular tourist destination. Approximately, 1.5 million people enter Point Roberts annually with most travel occurring in the summer months. While a lot of the tourists come for leisure, they also come to buy cheaper goods (i.e. gas, groceries). Point Roberts’ sales tax rate is much lower than nearby British Columbia’s.

For more information on Point Roberts and GSA’s LPOE there, visit here. For more information about the town, watch this documentary or read this article.

Port Roberts LPOE









Caption: After the Point Roberts LPOE’s 1950-era building became functionally inadequate it was replaced by this facility, which was built by Miller/Hull Partnership in Seattle, Wash. Miller/Hull’s design of the Point Roberts Border Station focused on integrating the building with the site’s natural qualities. The facility’s exposed steel frame and canopy structures were inspired by ship masts and sails emblematic of Point Roberts’ marine culture. The facility earned a Design Citation Award from the Seattle American Institute of Architects in 1996.