Astoria, Oregon

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Astoria, Oregon
Astoria and the Astoria–Megler Bridge
Astoria and the Astoria–Megler Bridge
Official seal of Astoria, Oregon
Location in Oregon
Location in Oregon
Astoria, Oregon is located in USA
Astoria, 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. Astoria was incorporated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on October 20, 1876.[1]

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 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Astoria–Megler Bridge connecting to neighboring Washington across the river. The population was 9,477 at the 2010 census.[9]


19th century[edit]

The Methodist Mission at Astoria in 1841

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. Today the fort has been recreated and is now a historical park.

The Pacific Fur Company, a subsidiary of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, was created to begin fur trading in the Oregon Country. Its primary fur-trading post, Fort Astoria, was built in 1811, holding the distinction of being the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast. It was an extremely important post for American exploration of the continent and was later used as an American claims in the Oregon boundary dispute with other European nations. British explorer David Thompson was the first European to navigate the entire length of the Columbia River in 1811. Thompson reached the partially constructed Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia, arriving two months after the Pacific Fur Company's ship, the Tonquin.[10]

With the ongoing War of 1812, the Pacific Fur Company officers sold the company assets to their Canadian rivals, the North West Company, in 1813. The house was restored to the U.S. in 1818, though the fur trade would remain under British control until American pioneers following the Oregon Trail began filtering into the port 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.

Astoria–Megler Bridge

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.[11] 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.

As the Oregon Territory grew and became increasingly more colonized by Americans, Astoria likewise grew as a port city at 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. In 1876, the community was incorporated by the state.[1]

Astoria attracted a host of immigrants beginning in the late 19th century: Nordic settlers, primarily Finns, and Chinese soon became significant 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.

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

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.

View of Astoria in 1868
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, Bumblebee Seafood moved its headquarters out of Astoria and gradually reduced its presence until closing its last Astoria cannery in 1980. The timber 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.

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 ferries.

Today, tourism, Astoria's growing art scene, and light manufacturing are the main economic activities of the city. It is a port of call for cruise ships since 1982, after $10 million in pier improvements to accommodate cruise 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.

In addition to the replicated Fort Clatsop, a popular 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 column was built by the Astor family in 1926 to commemorate 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.

Astoria is also the western terminus of the TransAmerica Trail, a bicycle touring route created by the American Cycling Association.[12]

Astoria is home to three United States Coast Guard ships: the Steadfast, Alert, and Fir.


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. 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.[13]

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).[14] 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.[15] The most snowfall in one month was 26.9 inches (68 cm) in January 1950,[16][17] and the most snow in 24 hours was 12.5 inches (32 cm) on December 11, 1922.[15]

Climate data for Astoria, Oregon (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Average high °F (°C) 49.8
Average low °F (°C) 37.7
Record low °F (°C) 11
Average precipitation inches (mm) 10.20
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 21.4 17.7 21.0 18.4 16.4 13.2 8.3 7.4 9.4 15.9 21.4 20.6 191.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.4 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.2 1.1
Source: NOAA (extremes 1892–present)[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 252
1870 639 153.6%
1880 2,803 338.7%
1890 6,184 120.6%
1900 8,351 35.0%
1910 9,599 14.9%
1920 14,027 46.1%
1930 10,349 −26.2%
1940 10,389 0.4%
1950 12,331 18.7%
1960 11,239 −8.9%
1970 10,244 −8.9%
1980 9,998 −2.4%
1990 10,069 0.7%
2000 9,813 −2.5%
2010 9,477 −3.4%
Est. 2014 9,521 [18] 0.5%

2010 census[edit]

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[edit]

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:

  • 91.08% White
  • 0.52% Black or African American
  • 1.14% Native American
  • 1.94% Asian
  • 0.19% Pacific Islander
  • 2.67% from other races
  • 2.46% from two or more races

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:

  • 24.0% under the age of 18
  • 9.1% from 18 to 24
  • 26.4% from 25 to 44
  • 24.5% from 45 to 64
  • 15.9% 65 years of age or older.

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.[21] The mayor and council appoint a city manager to conduct the ordinary business of the city.[21] The current mayor is Arline LaMear, who took office on January 5, 2015.[22] Her predecessor, Willis Van Dusen, served as mayor for 24 years, starting in 1991.[23]


John Jacob Astor Elementary

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 a newspaper serving Astoria, the local NPR station is KMUN 91.9, and KAST 1370 is a local news-talk radio station. The Coast River Business Journal is a monthly business magazine covering Astoria, Clatsop County, and the Northwest Oregon coast.

In popular culture[edit]

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

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.[24][25][26][27]

The early 1960s television series Route 66 filmed the episode entitled "One Tiger to a Hill"[28] 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.

Museums and other points of interest[edit]

The Astoria Riverfront Trolley runs along the Columbia River and past the north end of downtown Astoria.
The Astoria Column
Suomi Hall, the meeting hall of Finnish and Scandinavian immigrants, under the Astoria–Megler Bridge

Sister cities[edit]

Astoria has one sister city,[29] as designated by Sister Cities International:

  • Germany Walldorf, Germany, which is the birthplace of Astoria's namesake, John Jacob Astor, who was born in Walldorf near Heidelberg on July 17, 1763. The sistercityship was founded on Astor's 200th birthday in 1963 in Walldorf by Walldorf's mayor Wilhelm Willinger and Astoria's mayor Harry Steinbock.[30]

Warships named Astoria[edit]

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

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Leeds, W. H. (1899). "Special Laws". The State of Oregon General and Special Laws and Joint Resolutions and Memorials Enacted and Adopted by the Twentieth Regular Session of the Legislative Assembly (Salem, Oregon: State Printer): 747. 
  2. ^ "Arline LaMear". Democratic Party of Oregon. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  9. ^ a b "2010 Census profiles: Oregon cities alphabetically A-C" (PDF). Portland State University Population Research Center. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ Meinig, D.W. (1995) [1968]. The Great Columbia Plain (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Classic ed.). Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. pp. 37–38, 50. ISBN 0-295-97485-0. 
  11. ^ In his Introduction to the rambling work, Irving reports that Astor explicitly "expressed a regret that the true nature and extent of his enterprizeand its national character and importance had never been understood."
  12. ^ "TransAmerica Trail Summary". Adventure Cycling Association. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Average Relative Humidity – Morning (M), Afternoon (A)" (PDF). Comparative Climatic Data for the United States Through 2012. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2013. 
  14. ^ "Station Name: OR ASTORIA RGNL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Astoria, Oregon (350324)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Astoria WSO Airport, Oregon (350328)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ Moffat, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850–1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 206.
  20. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Oregon 2000–2007" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 18, 2009. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b "City Council". City of Astoria. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  22. ^ DePledge, Derrick (January 6, 2015). "LaMear takes power at City Hall". The Daily Astorian. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  23. ^ Forrester, Steve (December 16, 2014). "Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! City, council honors retiring Mayor Willis Van Dusen". The Daily Astorian. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  24. ^ Sonja Stewart (May 16, 2011). "Visit Your Favorite Family Movie Locations in Astoria, Oregon". Parenting Squad. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Movies filmed in Astoria Oregon". Astoria Oregon. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  26. ^ Ryan S. (aka Spoodawg) (July 8, 2010). "Guest blogger: How did I spend my vacation? Visiting 'Goonies' filming locations!". USA Today. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Filmed in Oregon 1908-2012" (PDF). (Oregon) Governor's Office of Film & Television. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Route 66" One Tiger to a Hill (1962)
  29. ^ "Interactive City Directory". Sister Cities International. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  30. ^ Ebeling, Herbert C. (1998). Johann Jakob Astor, Walldorf Astor-Stiftung. pp. 351–354. ISBN 3-00-003749-7. 
  31. ^ "Brian Bruney Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Astoria Theatre Sign". Retrieved June 9, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Jerry F. Gustafson". Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  34. ^ Brinkman, Brian R. (May 11, 2011). "Wading in cerebrospinal fluid with Cass McCombs, Frank Fairfield and Michael Hurley". Oregon Music News. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  35. ^ (October 7, 2008). "Holly to Hugh: Hef Off". Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  36. ^ NW Spotlight (November 11, 2011). "Veterans Day tribute to an Oregon hero: Don Malarkey". OregonCatalyst. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  37. ^ Paul George Hummasti, Finnish Radicals in Astoria, Oregon, 1904–1940: A Study in Immigrant Socialism. New York: Arno Press, 1979; p. 44.
  38. ^ "Vampira: The haunting of Astoria High School". The Daily Astorian. October 31, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  39. ^ John, Finn J.D. (September 19, 2011). "Astoria man set out to do something nice for his wife, ended up inventing cable TV". Offbeat Oregon History. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  40. ^ Jordan Poyer

Further reading[edit]

  • Ebeling, Herbert C.: Johann Jakob Astor. Walldorf, Germany: Astor-Stiftung, 1998. ISBN 3-00-003749-7.
  • Leedom, Karen L.: Astoria: An Oregon History. Astoria, Oregon: Rivertide Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9826252-1-7.
  • MacGibbon, Elma (1904). Leaves of knowledge. Shaw & Borden Co.  Elma MacGibbons reminiscences about her travels in the United States starting in 1898, which were mainly in Oregon and Washington. Includes chapter "Astoria and the Columbia River."

External links[edit]