Astoria, Oregon

For other uses, see Astoria (disambiguation).
Astoria, Oregon

Astoria and the Astoria–Megler Bridge


Location in Oregon
Astoria, Oregon

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 46°11′20″N 123°49′16″W / 46.18889°N 123.82111°W / 46.18889; -123.82111Coordinates: 46°11′20″N 123°49′16″W / 46.18889°N 123.82111°W / 46.18889; -123.82111
Country United States
State Oregon
County Clatsop
Founded 1811
Incorporated 1876[1]
  Mayor Arline J. LaMear (D)[2]
  Total 10.11 sq mi (26.18 km2)
  Land 6.16 sq mi (15.95 km2)
  Water 3.95 sq mi (10.23 km2)
Elevation 23 ft (7 m)
Population (2010)[4]
  Total 9,477
  Estimate (2012[5]) 9,527
  Density 1,538.5/sq mi (594.0/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
  Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 97103
Area code(s) 503 and 971
FIPS code 41-03150[6]
GNIS feature ID 1117076[7]

Astoria is the seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States.[8] Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, the city was named after the American investor John Jacob Astor. His American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site in 1811, 205 years ago. Astoria was incorporated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on October 20, 1876.[1]

It holds the distinction of being the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific coast and for having the first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains.

Located on the south shore of the Columbia River, the city is served by the deepwater Port of Astoria. Transportation includes the Astoria Regional Airport with U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 101 as the main highways, and the 4.1-mile (6.6 km) Astoria–Megler Bridge connecting to neighboring Washington across the river. The population was 9,477 at the 2010 census.[9]


19th century

The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805–06 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure south and west of modern-day Astoria. The expedition had hoped a ship would come by to take them back east, but instead they endured a torturous winter of rain and cold, later returning the way they came.[10] Today the fort has been recreated and is now a historical park.[11]

1813 sketch of Fort Astoria
Gabriel Franchère's 1813 sketch of Fort Astoria.

In 1811, British explorer David Thompson, the first person known to have navigated the entire length of the Columbia River, reached the partially constructed Fort Astoria near the mouth of the river. He arrived just two months after the Pacific Fur Company's ship, the Tonquin.[12] The fort constructed by the Tonquin party established Astoria as a U.S., rather than a British, settlement.[13] It became a vital post for American exploration of the continent and was later used as an American claim in the Oregon boundary dispute with other European nations.

The Pacific Fur Company, a subsidiary of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, was created to begin fur trading in the Oregon Country.[14] During the War of 1812, in 1813, the company's officers sold its assets to their Canadian rivals, the North West Company. The fur trade would remain under British control until U.S. pioneers following the Oregon Trail began filtering into the town in the mid-1840s. The Treaty of 1818 established joint U.S. – British occupancy of the Oregon Country.[15] [16] In 1846, the Oregon Treaty divided the mainland at the 49th parallel north, and the southern portion of Vancouver Island south of this line was awarded to the British.[17]

Images of the evolving town of Astoria though the 19th century

Washington Irving, a prominent American writer with a European reputation, was approached by John Jacob Astor to mythologize the three-year reign of his Pacific Fur Company. Astoria (1835), written while Irving was Astor's guest, cemented the importance of the region in the American psyche.[18] In Irving's words, the fur traders were "Sinbads of the wilderness", and their venture was a staging point for the spread of American economic power into both the continental interior and into the Pacific.[19]

An Astoria Salmon cannery.

An Astoria Salmon cannery.

As the Oregon Territory grew and became increasingly more colonized by Americans, Astoria likewise grew as a port city near the mouth of the great river that provided the easiest access to the interior. The first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains was established in Astoria in 1847[20] and official state incorporation in 1876.[1]

Astoria attracted a host of immigrants beginning in the late 19th century: Nordic settlers, primarily Finns, and Chinese soon became larger parts of the population. The Finns mostly lived in Uniontown, near the present-day end of the Astoria–Megler Bridge, and took fishing jobs; the Chinese tended to do cannery work, and usually lived either downtown or in bunkhouses near the canneries. By the late 1800s, 22% of Astoria's population was Chinese.[21]

20th and 21st centuries

In 1883, and again in 1922, downtown Astoria was devastated by fire, partly because it was mostly wood and entirely raised off the marshy ground on pilings. Even after the first fire, the same format was used, and the second time around the flames spread quickly again, as collapsing streets took out the water system. Frantic citizens resorted to dynamite, blowing up entire buildings to stop the fire from going further.[22][23]

Panoramic views of Astoria in the early 20th century
Photograph of Astoria c.1912.
Photograph of Astoria c.1914.
Photograph of Astoria c.1915.
Port of Astoria
The Port of Astoria in 2009.

Astoria has served as a port of entry for over a century and remains the trading center for the lower Columbia basin, although it has long since been eclipsed by Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, as an economic hub on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Astoria's economy centered on fishing, fish processing, and lumber. In 1945, about 30 canneries could be found along the Columbia; however, in 1974, the Bumblebee Seafood corporation moved its headquarters out of Astoria and gradually reduced its presence until closing its last Astoria cannery in 1980.[24] The lumber industry likewise declined; Astoria Plywood Mill, the city's largest employer, closed in 1989, and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway discontinued service to Astoria in 1996.[25]

Astoria–Megler Bridge
The Astoria–Megler Bridge.

From 1921 to 1966, a ferry route across the Columbia River connected Astoria with Pacific County, Washington. In 1966, the Astoria–Megler Bridge was opened. The bridge completed U.S. Route 101 and linked Astoria with Washington on the opposite shore of the Columbia, replacing the ferry service.[26]

Today, tourism, Astoria's growing art scene, and light manufacturing are the main economic activities of the city. Logging and fishing persist, but at a fraction of their former levels.[27] It is a port of call for cruise ships since 1982, after $10 million in pier improvements to accommodate these larger ships. To avoid Mexican ports of call during the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009, many cruises were re-routed to include Astoria. The residential community The World visited Astoria in June 2009.[28] The town's seasonal sport fishing tourism has been active for several decades[29] [30] [31] and has now been supplanted with visitors coming for the historic elements of the city. The more recent microbrewery/brewpub scene[32] and a weekly street market[33] have helped popularized the area as a destination.

Astoria Column
The Astoria Column.

In addition to the replicated Fort Clatsop, another point of interest is the Astoria Column, a tower 125 feet (38 m) high, built atop Coxcomb Hill above the town, with an inner circular staircase allowing visitors to climb to see a panoramic view of the town, the surrounding lands, and the Columbia flowing into the Pacific. The tower was built in 1926 with financing by the Great Northern Railway and Vincent Astor of the Astor family, the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, in commemoration of the city's role in the family's business history and the region's early history.[34][35]

Since 1998, artistically-inclined fishermen and women from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest have traveled to Astoria for the Fisher Poets Gathering, where poets and singers tell their tales to honor the fishing industry and lifestyle.[36]

Astoria is also the western terminus of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, a 4,250 miles (6,840 km) coast-to-coast bicycle touring route created in 1976 by the Adventure Cycling Association.[37]

Three United States Coast Guard cutters: the Steadfast, Alert, and Fir, call the port of Astoria home.[38]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.11 square miles (26.18 km2), of which, 6.16 square miles (15.95 km2) is land and 3.95 square miles (10.23 km2) is water.[3]


Astoria lies within the Mediterranean climate zone (Köppen Csb), with very mild temperatures year-round, some of the most consistent in the contiguous United States; winters are mild for this latitude (it usually remains above freezing at night) and wet. Summers are cool, although short heat waves can occur. Rainfall is most abundant in late fall and winter and is lightest in July and August, averaging approximately 67 inches (1,700 mm) of rain each year.[39] Snowfall is relatively rare, occurring in only three-fifths of years. Nevertheless, when conditions are ripe, significant snowfalls can occur.

Astoria is tied with Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas, as the most humid city in the contiguous United States. The average relative humidity in Astoria is 89% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon.[40]

Annually, there is an average of only 4.2 days with temperatures reaching 80 °F (27 °C) or higher, and 90 °F (32 °C) readings are rare. Normally there are only one or two nights per year when the temperature remains at or above 60 °F (16 °C).[41] There are an average of 31 days with minimum temperatures at or below the freezing mark. The record high temperature was 101 °F (38 °C) on July 1, 1942. The record low temperature was 6 °F (−14 °C) on December 8, 1972, and on December 21, 1990.

There are an average of 191 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1950 with 113.34 inches (2,879 mm) and the driest year was 1985 with 41.58 inches (1,056 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 36.07 inches (916 mm) in December 1933, and the most in 24 hours was 5.56 inches (141 mm) on November 25, 1998.[42] The most snowfall in one month was 26.9 inches (68 cm) in January 1950,[43][44] and the most snow in 24 hours was 12.5 inches (32 cm) on December 11, 1922.[42]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20159,626[45]1.6%

2010 census

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 9,477 people, 4,288 households, and 2,274 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,538.5 inhabitants per square mile (594.0/km2). There were 4,980 housing units at an average density of 808.4 per square mile (312.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.2% White, 0.6% African American, 1.1% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.8% of the population.

There were 4,288 households of which 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.0% were non-families. 38.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.86.

The median age in the city was 41.9 years. 20.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.3% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 9,813 people, 4,235 households, and 2,469 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,597.6 people per square mile (617.1 per km²). There were 4,858 housing units at an average density of 790.9 per square mile (305.5 per km²). The racial makeup of the city was:

5.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

14.2% were of German, 11.4% Irish, 10.2% English, 8.3% United States or American, 6.1% Finnish, 5.6% Norwegian, and 5.4% Scottish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 4,235 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with:

The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,011, and the median income for a family was $41,446. Males had a median income of $29,813 versus $22,121 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,759. About 11.6% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.0% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.


Astoria operates under a council–manager form of city government. Voters elect four councilors by ward and a mayor, who each serve four-year terms.[48] The mayor and council appoint a city manager to conduct the ordinary business of the city.[48] The current mayor is Arline LaMear, who took office on January 5, 2015.[49] Her predecessor, Willis Van Dusen, served as mayor for 24 years, starting in 1991.[50]


The Astoria School District has four primary and secondary schools, including Astoria High School. Clatsop Community College is the city's two-year college. It also has a library and many parks with historical significance. As well as the second oldest Job Corps facility, Tongue Point Job Corps.


The Daily Astorian is the main newspaper serving Astoria, it was established nearly 144 years ago, in 1873,[51] and has been in publication continuously since that time.[52] The Coast River Business Journal is a monthly business magazine covering Astoria, Clatsop County, and the Northwest Oregon coast. It, as with The Daily Astorian, is part of the EO Media Group (formerly the East Oregonian Publishing Company) family of Oregon and Washington newspapers.[53] The local NPR station is KMUN 91.9, and KAST 1370 is a local news-talk radio station.

In popular culture

old Clatsop County Jail
The old Clatsop County Jail, used in the first scene of the film The Goonies. The site is now home to the Oregon Film Museum.

Shanghaied in Astoria is a musical about Astoria's history that has been performed in Astoria every year since 1984.[54]

Astoria was the setting of the 1985 film The Goonies, which was filmed on location. Other movies filmed in Astoria include Short Circuit, The Black Stallion, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Benji the Hunted, The Ring Two, Into the Wild, The Guardian and Cthulhu.[55][56][57][58]

The early 1960s television series Route 66 filmed the episode entitled "One Tiger to a Hill"[59] in Astoria; it was broadcast on September 21, 1962.

Pop punk band The Ataris' fourth album was titled So Long, Astoria as an allusion to The Goonies. A song of the same title is the album's first track. The album's back cover features news clippings from Astoria, including a picture of the port's water tower from a 2002 article on its demolition.[60]

Warships named Astoria

USS Astoria (CA-34) off Mare Island in July 1941

USS Astoria

Two US Navy Cruisers were named USS Astoria: A New Orleans-class heavy cruiser (CA-34) and a Cleveland-class light cruiser (CL-90). The former was lost in combat in August 1942 at the World War II Pacific ocean Battle of Savo Island,[61] and the latter was scrapped in 1971 after being removed from active duty in 1949.[62]

Museums and other points of interest

Fort Clatsop replica
The replica of Fort Clatsop.
Astoria Riverfront Trolley
The Astoria Riverfront Trolley runs along the Columbia River and past the north end of downtown Astoria.
Suomi Hall, the meeting hall of Finnish and Scandinavian immigrants, under the Astoria–Megler Bridge.
Coast Guard cutter
Coast Guard cutter Alert docked at Astoria.
The Clatsop County Courthouse.
Local hotel
The Cannery Pier Hotel.
Coast Guard pier
The US Coast Guard pier.
Cruise ship
The Norwegian Pearl cruise ship docked at Astoria.
Custom's House
The 1852 U.S. Custom's House.
The Flavel House Museum.
Maritime Museum
The Columbia River Maritime Museum.
local Theatre
The Liberty Theatre located in the Astor Building.
Welcome to Astoria sign
The bicentennial Welcome to Astoria sign.
Fort Astoria replica
The Fort Astoria replica.
The Heritage Museum
The Heritage Museum, located in the former Astoria City Hall.
local Hotel
The John Jacob Astor Hotel.
green Pilings
Former cannery dock pilings at Astoria waterfront.
aerial view
An aerial view of the Astoria waterfront and Tongue Point in the distance.
Indian Burial Canoe replica
A Chinookan Indian Burial Canoe replica at the top of Coxcomb Hill.

Sister cities

Astoria has one sister city,[63] as designated by Sister Cities International:

Notable people

See also


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Further reading

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