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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Built over water and destroyed by flames

The pilings you see are made of cement, and although these days there is no water under Exchange Street, the whole of downtown Astoria was at one time built on wooden pilings over the Columbia River. You can still see the pilings in a few locations like this, where there is a parking lot rather than a foundation. I'm standing on Franklin Street to take this photo. The street in the foreground is Exchange. We're looking across the site of the old Safeway store to Duane Avenue, then the blue building beyond that is on Commercial Street, which is the main drag going east. The next block beyond that is Marine Drive, which carries all of the westbound traffic through town, and Marine essentially skirts the river. Since the downtown area is also approximately nine blocks long, that's a lot of area built up over water and mud. There are stories of people fishing from the windows of buildings and through holes in the streets in earlier days. Fires in 1883 and 1922 destroyed much of downtown Astoria, and eventually concrete pilings replaced the wood. Today I'm taking part in the Thursday Challenge, where the theme is "old" - as in, Old Astoria.

The red thing in the middle of the photo is the trailer that housed the Bank of America until a few weeks ago after a fire gutted the building on Thanksgiving night, 2008. Tragically, one man was killed, but as for Astoria's buildings, only the corner of one block was damaged.

This blog is a labor of love, but the time I spend on it is in part made possible by Tapir and Friends Wildlife World online gift shop. Thanks for visiting. I love your comments!

7 comments:

Small City Scenes said...

Very interesting about early Astoria. Lots of fires back in the 1880s +. Too bad about the BofA fire. MB

cieldequimper said...

Very interesting and so much to see in that photo thanks to the great caption!

Jacob said...

Wooden pilings only last for a time...one does hope, though, that there is steel and not sand in the concrete pilings...

There are stories about Florida as to how developers and builders set huge condos on pilings made of concrete that was mostly sand...some of the stories are true!

Lee Spangler said...

Good viewpoint to show that the town is built over pilings. I am not sure how much longer this structure is going to withstand the weight and all the truck traffic. I've been under some parts. debris, wet,and ,of course, rats!

Faye Pekas said...

Hi, I linked over from the Bend Daily Photos site. Its good to see another Oregon blog. I've been to Astoria a few times. You have LOTS of sealions on some of the docks :)

gogouci said...

Great information. I love reading your posts.

Don and Krise said...

I agree. Very informative. It reminds me of when I took the Seattle underground tour. They explained how Seattle was first built, why it didn't work and how it became what it is today. Thanks for the lesson. :)

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