Thursday, December 2, 2021

Astoria Oregon offers culture, fun, food, maritime wonders, trolley


The Flavel House and Heritage Museum in Astoria, Oregon, is one of Astoria's proudest structures..
It is named after Captain George Flavel, early day Astoria ship captain who navigated the Columbia. He was also an entrepreneur and the city's first millionaire. The museum has tours and a gift shop.
 

'LITTLE SAN FRANCISCO': FIRST AMERICAN SETTLEMENT WEST OF THE ROCKIES, ASTORIA HAS IT ALL

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
The Astoria Column was restored to celebrate Astoria's Bicentennial --
1811 to 2011. Several fund-raising endeavors rescued the historic piece. 

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

JOHN JACOB ASTOR  never made it to the charming Pacific Northwest town that bears his name. But the millionaire's investment in the region's booming fur trade in the early nineteenth century left an important legacy. 
Based at Fort Astoria, the Pacific Fur Company  established several other posts in the Columbia River Basin
ASTORIA REMAINS a vital 21st Century town,  proud of its distinction as the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. While the town carefully preserves links to its early 19th Century founding, it also offers "big city" pleasures -- fine dining, a world class maritime museum, a popular trolley and beautifully restored Victorian and Craftsman hillside homes. The town also boasts variety -- vintage, along with attractive contemporary buildings which blend nicely.
The south shore of the Columbia River is a picturesque sight,
 where the majestic river meets the Pacific Ocean. 

 
The town rose on a prime spot on the south shore of the Columbia River, near the Pacific Ocean.  The legacy of  the first John Jacob Astor lives on in its well kept homes, a graceful mix of offices, shops, residential buildings and a splendid tower known as the Astoria Column.
BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED in several recent fundraising campaigns, the column stands sentinel over the town, a towering hilltop monument with murals depicting significant events in Oregon's early history. It survives 80 inches of rainfall a year and driving gale winds sweeping off the Pacific.
WE CLIMBED the column, which rises majestically to overlook the mouth of the Columbia River on Coxcomb Hill. Completed in 1926, the imposing concrete and steel structure is part of a 30-acre city park, well loved by locals and a "must see" for tourists.
Astoria's trolley is popular with locals
as well as the lively tourist trade.
Painted by Electus D. Litchfield and Attilio Pusterla, the column is a series of murals, boasting 32 scenes from the history of the region, including Captain Gray's discovery of the Columbia River in 1792 and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The idea for the column first came about in 1898 when the city decided that an electrified tower in a small town could attract attention, even rivaling the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It took nearly three decades to create the column with its panoramic views. 
ASTORIA'S ETHNIC mix is Scandinavian, Chinese and many other races, including the native American Clatsop tribe which helped Lewis and Clark survive a seriously dreary winter in 1805.
 WE ARE MUSEUM buffs so the Columbia River Maritime Museum attracted us.  Beautifully laid out, its dramatic displays showcase the fishing, shipping and military history in a dramatic waterfront building. (More on that next week.)
American Pride anchors in the waters of the Columbia River.
Then making use of our brief time in Astoria, we took in  the Flavel House Museum, a lovely, restored Queen Anne style Victorian mansion built by a clever ship captain and real estate mogul who also had an eye for period furniture.  His wife's manicured gardens live on as volunteers maintain the grounds and beds as they were.
ASTORIA ALSO has its share of bawdy history.  Along with its elegant architecture, it was also home to its share of brothels, breweries and opium dens.  That was long ago and today Astoria's trolley is a main attraction.  It is beloved by its residents, so we took a ride along the water, stopping for fish and chips then ice cream at a pair of the inviting restaurants.
The Liberty Theatre has long
been a favorite vintage building. 

The 1925 Liberty Theater was another highlight for the two of us theater buffs. Built three years after the 1922 fire that destroyed much of the city, the one-time Vaudeville house was restored with nearly $9 million in donated funds. Astoria boasts some deep pockets and a "can do" spirit that the original J.J. Astor would certainly endorse and be proud of. We'll be back to this welcoming, interesting town, a happy blend of old, new and nice.
 More informationwww.americancruiselines.com;  www.oldoregon.com;  www.crmm.org (Maritime Museum); www.astoria.or.us; www.libertyastoria.org



Beautifully rendered displays of nautical life are
part of the charm of Astoria's Maritime Museum.


UP NEXT: While we're on the Columbia River, and only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, we take readers inside the Columbia River Maritime Museum, considered one of the finest maritime museums in the country, and home to the largest collection of maritime artifacts in the Pacific Northwest.  More than 20,000 items, paintings, exhibits, drawings and memorabilia welcome visitors in a beautifully designed space.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, nature, family and more: www.whereiscookie.com





3 comments:

  1. What an interesting piece on a fascinating place I knew little about. Must put Astoria on my bucket list. Thank you.

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  2. Washington WanderersDecember 8, 2021 at 11:41 AM

    We have spent many pleasant holidays in Astoria, and keep coming back for there is always something new to explore. Love this piece.

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  3. GORGEOUS PLACE PEACEFUL LITTLE ASTORIA.
    YES IT IS MINI SAN FRANCISCO MINUS
    ALL THE DRUGS HUMAN FECES AND CRAZYNESS OF SAN FRANCISCO. HAS THE NICEST PEOPLE ON EARTH. LOVE LOVE MY LIFE IN ASTORIA OREGON.

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