Astoria is a port city and the seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon and was the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. The county is the northwest corner of Oregon, and Astoria is located on the south shore of the Columbia River, where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean. The city is named for John Jacob Astor, an investor and entrepreneur from New York City, whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site and established a monopoly in the fur trade in the early nineteenth century. Astoria was incorporated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on October 20, 1876.
The city is served by the deepwater Port of Astoria. Transportation includes the Astoria Regional Airport. U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 101 are the main highways, and the Astoria–Megler Bridge connects to neighboring Washington across the river. The population was 10,181 at the 2020 census.
During archeological excavations in Astoria and Fort Clatsop in 2012, trading items from American settlers with Native Americans were found, including Austrian glass beads and falconry bells. The present area of Astoria belonged to a large, prehistoric Native American trade system of the Columbia Plateau.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805–1806 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure southwest of modern-day Astoria. The expedition had hoped a ship would come by that could take them back east, but instead they endured a torturous winter of rain and cold. They later returned overland and by internal rivers, the way they had traveled west. Today the fort has been recreated and is part of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
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 two months after the Pacific Fur Company's ship, the Tonquin. The fort constructed by the Tonquin party established Astoria as a U.S., rather than a British, settlement and became a vital post for American exploration of the continent. It was later used as an American claim in the Oregon boundary dispute with 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. 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.
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.
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, promoted the importance of the region in the American psyche. 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 outward in Pacific trade.
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 and official state incorporation in 1876.
Astoria attracted a host of immigrants beginning in the late 19th century: Nordic settlers, primarily Swedes, Swedish speaking Finns and Chinese soon became larger parts of the population. The Nordic settlers 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. Astoria also had a significant population of Indians, especially Sikhs from Punjab; the Ghadar Party, a political movement among Indians on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada to overthrow British rule in India, was officially founded on 15 July 1913 in Astoria.
20th and 21st centuries
In 1883, and again in 1922, downtown Astoria was devastated by fire, partly because the buildings were constructed mostly of wood, a readily available material. The buildings were entirely raised off the marshy ground on wooden pilings. Even after the first fire, the same building format was used. In the second fire, flames spread quickly again, and the collapsing streets took out the water system. Frantic citizens resorted to dynamite, blowing up entire buildings to create fire stops.
Astoria has served as a port of entry for over a century and remains the trading center for the lower Columbia basin. In the early 1900s, the Callendar Navigation Company was an important transportation and maritime concern based in the city. It has long since been eclipsed in importance by Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, as economic hubs 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 River.
In the early 20th Century, the North Pacific Brewing Company contributed substantially to the economic well being of the town. Before 1902, the company was owned by John Kopp, who sold the firm to a group of five men, on of whom was Charles Robinson, who would become the company's president in 1907. The main plant for the brewery was located on East Exchange Street.
As the Pacific salmon resource diminished, canneries were closed. In 1974, the Bumble Bee Seafoods corporation moved its headquarters out of Astoria and gradually reduced its presence until closing its last Astoria cannery in 1980. The lumber industry likewise declined in the late 20th century. Astoria Plywood Mill, the city's largest employer, closed in 1989. The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway discontinued service to Astoria in 1996, as it did not provide a large enough market.
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.
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. Since 1982 it has been a port of call for cruise ships, after the city and port authority spent $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 floating residential community MS The World visited Astoria in June 2009.
The town's seasonal sport fishing tourism has been active for several decades. Visitors attracted by heritage tourism and the historic elements of the city have supplanted fishing in the economy. Since the early 21st century, the microbrewery/brewpub scene and a weekly street market have helped popularize the area as a destination.
In addition to the replicated Fort Clatsop, another point of interest is the Astoria Column, a tower high, built atop Coxcomb Hill above the town. Its inner circular staircase allows 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. Financing was provided by the Great Northern Railway, seeking to encourage tourists, and Vincent Astor, a 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.
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.
Another popular annual event is the Dark Arts Festival, which features music, art, dance, and demonstrations of craft such as blacksmithing and glassblowing, in combination with offerings of a large array of dark craft brews. Dark Arts Festival began as a small gathering at a community arts space. Now Fort George Brewery hosts the event, which draws hundreds of visitors and tour buses from Seattle.
Astoria is the western terminus of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, a coast-to-coast bicycle touring route created in 1976 by the Adventure Cycling Association.
Three United States Coast Guard cutters: the Steadfast, Alert, and Elm, are homeported in Astoria.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and is water.
Astoria lies within the Mediterranean climate zone (Köppen Csb), with cool winters and mild summers, although short heat waves can occur. Rainfall is most abundant in late fall and winter and is lightest in July and August, averaging approximately of rain each year. Snowfall is relatively rare, averaging under a year and frequently having none. Nevertheless, when conditions are ripe, significant snowfalls can occur.
Astoria is tied with Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas, as the city with the highest average relative humidity in the contiguous United States. The average relative humidity in Astoria is 89% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon.
Annually, there are an average of only 4.2 afternoons with temperatures reaching or higher, and readings are rare. Normally there are only one or two nights per year when the temperature remains at or above . There are an average of 31 mornings with minimum temperatures at or below the freezing mark. The record high temperature was on July 1, 1942, and June 27, 2021. The record low temperature was on December 8, 1972, and on December 21, 1990.
There are an average of 191 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest "water year", defined as October 1 through September 30 of the next year, was from 1915 to 1916 with and the driest from 2000 to 2001 with . The most rainfall in one month was in December 1933, and the most in 24 hours was on November 25, 1998. The most snowfall in one month was in January 1950, and the most snow in 24 hours was on December 11, 1922.
As of the 2010 census, there were 9,477 people, 4,288 households, and 2,274 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 4,980 housing units at an average density of . 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.
As of the 2000 census, 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 km). There were 4,858 housing units at an average density of 790.9 per square mile (305.5 per km). 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 the 2000 United States Census.
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. The mayor and council appoint a city manager to conduct the ordinary business of the city. The current mayor is Bruce Jones, a retired US Coast Guard Captain, who took office in January 2019. His predecessor, Arline Lamear served from 2015 to 2018.
The Astoria School District has four primary and secondary schools, including Astoria High School. Clatsop Community College is the city's two-year college. The city also has a library and many parks with historical significance, plus the second oldest Job Corps facility (Tongue Point Job Corps) in the nation. Tongue Point Job Corps center is the only such location in the country which provides seamanship training.
The Astorian (formerly the Daily Astorian) is the main newspaper serving Astoria. It was established nearly , in 1873, and has been in publication continuously since that time. The Coast River Business Journal is a monthly business magazine covering Astoria, Clatsop County, and the Northwest Oregon coast. It, as with the Astorian, is part of the EO Media Group (formerly the East Oregonian Publishing Company) family of Oregon and Washington newspapers. The local NPR station is KMUN 91.9, and KAST 1370 is a local news-talk radio station.
In popular culture and entertainment
thumb|right|upright=0.90|alt=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.
It is claimed that the actor Clark Gable began his career at the Astoria Theatre in 1922.
Leroy E. "Ed" Parsons, called the "Father of Cable Television", developed one of the first community antenna television stations (CATV) in the United States in Astoria starting in 1948.
The early 1960s television series Route 66 filmed the episode entitled "One Tiger to a Hill" in Astoria; it was broadcast on September 21, 1962.
A scene in "The Real Thing"—Episode 2 of Season 5 (in the 7th year) -- of the television series Eureka (American TV series) was set in Astoria. The character Jo Lupo parks her vehicle in an unauthorized location while she is meditating on the oceanfront. A tow truck is called to remove the vehicle. A law enforcement officer whose shoulder clearly displays a patch that reads "Astoria, Oregon" speaks to Jo about the parking violation.
Shanghaied in Astoria is a musical about Astoria's history that has been performed in Astoria every year since 1984.
In recent popular culture, Astoria is most famous for being the setting of the 1985 film The Goonies, which was filmed on location in the city. Other notable 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, Come See the Paradise, The Ring Two, Into the Wild, The Guardian and Green Room.
The fourth album of the pop punk band The Ataris 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.
The pop punk band Marianas Trench have an album titled Astoria. The band states the album was inspired by 1980s fantasy and adventure films, and The Goonies in particular. That film inspired the title, as it was set in Astoria, the album's artwork, as well as the title of their accompanying US tour (Hey You Guys!!).
Astoria is featured as a city in American Truck Simulator: Oregon.
In the series finale of the TV show Dexter, the title character, Dexter Morgan, ends up in Astoria as the series ends.
Warships named Astoria
Two U.S. 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 the Pacific Ocean in combat at the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942, during World War II, and the latter was scrapped in 1971 after being removed from active duty in 1949.
Museums and other points of interest
Astoria has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Astoria, OR, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.