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In One Ear: In ruins

The 1922 Astoria fire destroys downtown business district
By Elleda Wilson

The Daily Astorian

Published on December 8, 2017 12:01AM


Today is the 95th anniversary of the 1922 Astoria fire. As reported in the Dec. 9 edition of the Nebraska State Journal, 30 blocks of the city were “in ruins,” with a property loss of $15 million (about $218 million now). In collateral damage, hundreds of citizens were made homeless (https://tinyurl.com/AstFire1922).

Fire Chief E. B. Foster said the blaze got out of control because it was burning in the pilings under the buildings in the business district — the same thing that happened when the city burned in 1883. Pictured, Astoria as it was in 1905, 14th and Commercial streets, courtesy of Richard Thompson.

The Morning Astorian and Evening Budget’s new building was destroyed, but publisher J.S. Dellinger still managed to put out a mimeographed edition of the paper before moving to the presses of the Finnish daily, Loveri.

Luckily, there were only two local casualties: Businessman Notores Staples had a heart attack at the height of the fire; and C. J. Smith, a transient, was found hanging under the sidewalk, a suicide.

“We’ve got no town left, but we’ve still got the best harbor on the Pacific coast,” Mayor James Bremner stated. “We will start rebuilding at once on the old site. These things have happened before, to us once … and (to) many other cities. Yet folks have gone ahead and built bigger and better cities on the ruins. We hope to do just that.”



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