Astoria, Oregon (population 9,813), is the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, the community began life as an American fur trading post in 1811, just six years after Lewis and Clark wintered nearby at Fort Clatsop.
The community grew slowly until the 1870s, when salmon fishing and canning sparked new development. Fishing, lumbering, and shipping remain important industries, but tourism—including heritage tourism—is increasingly important to the local economy.
The community has two districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts a higher concentration of historic resources than any other city in Oregon. This is in spite of the fact that a devastating fire in 1922 virtually leveled Astoria's business district.
Historic buildings today include the historic Elliott Hotel, a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America, and a number of bed and breakfast establishments.
The city has developed the River Trail along the Columbia River with interpretive signage on the history of Astoria's relationship to the water. The community has five major museums and has constructed a replica of the first U.S. Customhouse west of the Rocky Mountains.
A major preservation project currently underway is rehabilitation of the Liberty Theater (1925) in the heart of downtown. The city has provided $1.3 million through the Astor-East Urban Renewal District toward the $7.5 million restoration effort, which also received a Save America's Treasures grant and funding support from the Ford Family Foundation.
The local Scandinavian Society, building on Astoria's ethnic history, holds a Scandinavian Mid Summer Festival every year. Reflecting its maritime heritage and its location at the mouth of the Columbia River, the Astoria Regatta is in its 110th year of celebration.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2004.