a town on stilts


Local history buffs ought to enjoy this one: A “historic inventory” of the Adair-Uppertown section of Astoria, by Jill A. Chappel, has gone online recently (http://tinyurl.com/adairup). A photo from the report cover is shown.

It’s actually a rather dry 1994 report to the city of Astoria Office of Community Development, designed to be used as a planning tool for Astoria’s historic preservation efforts, but even so, it contains all sorts of interesting historic facts.

Did you know that in 1844 John Shively’s original layout for Astoria had an east and west section, separated by a 120-foot wide street (supposed to be named Broadway)? The eastern end of town, now known as Uppertown, had street names like Hemlock, Pine, Wing and Tulip. Fifty by 150 foot lots were selling for about $200 (about $6,200 now) by 1849, and by 1850 the population of Astoria was 250.

By 1870, although it was growing rapidly, Astoria was still pretty raw around the edges. Vacationers from Portland who came downriver on sternwheelers to dally in Seaside were not impressed. Writer Randall V. Mills noted, “A town built on stilts out over the tide flats ... Astoria remained for many years markedly ugly ... One did not, it seemed, stop at Astoria, except to change boats and go somewhere else.” My, my, how times have changed.

— Elleda Wilson

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