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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pilings and more pilings along Astoria's waterfront

Yesterday Steffe wondered why the pilings and posts in this blog entry were left in place and allowed to decay. That photo was taken from the River Walk at 14th Street. Just two blocks up from there at 16th Street, you can see more of Astoria's typical waterfront scenery in today's photo. There are areas along the waterfront where the pilings and beams are thick like this and areas where they are less so. In the past, there were many buildings over the water. Once the huge cannery and fish-packing industries lost their exuberance here, they were no longer needed and they disappeared. I'm sure that it simply wasn't worth anyone's time and trouble to remove the pilings (and for what reason?). The town doesn't grow so fast that it needs this space, in fact, Astoria remains fairly static at about 10,000 people, probably due to its historically slow economy. There may be other factors that people will mention in the Comments, but I'm not an economist, and I'm still new to the area.

What do you do with a charming town like Astoria when the industry is essentially gone? It becomes a tourist attraction, although it is certainly not a ghost town. And what is more interesting to tourists than something they couldn't see at home? As a resident and having talked with many visitors, I believe Astoria's interesting and unusually picturesque waterfront is a big part of the draw. So most of the pilings will be left alone - at least, I hope so. I believe that many of the ones you see in this photo are slated for demolition at some time in the near future due to plans to build a controversial 4-story condo, both taller and wider than the existing building. I won't get into that here. Let's just say that many people enjoy Astoria's waterfront for its unique and picturesque qualities, including the dilapidated areas where buildings once existed. You can see a concrete pad in this photo, no longer flat, but slanted several directions. The sea birds, and especially the seagulls, congregate here until the tide comes up high enough to cover the cement, which it does frequently. A sign along the bank tells us that a church was one of the buildings occupying this location. At one time many of the the buildings on the waterfront were built over the river, and people could actually fish through holes in the board streets.

The imaginatively-designed building on the far right is the office and dispatch station for the River Pilots, and is connected by a wooden walkway to the shore just out of sight on the right. The docks beyond, at 17th Street, are home to the Coast Guard ship Steadfast and to the decommissioned Columbia Light Ship and Columbia Buoy. You can barely see the white peak of the roof of the Maritime Museum. More on that later, and also more of Astoria's watery ruins in days to come.


Stefan Jansson said...

Aha, thanks for the explanation. It does look kinda cool when you see them like this.

Don and Krise said...

Tacoma's waterfront still has a number of it's old pilings too. I love driving by and seeing them. It tells part of a story of what once was. Great post Sheryl.

Lowell said...

Cedar Key is full of old pilings, too! They add so much character to the town. The last time there I saw some way out in the water, but wasn't able to find out where they came from.

Of course, most of ours are there because whatever stood upon them was blown away by hurricanes!

Love this view and everything about it. What a great town where the population stays relatively static. Life, I would guess, can be lived at a more leisurely pace with more time to stop and look at the pilings!

VP said...

Intersting post, I was puzzled by the pilings too. I like the idea of a 'static' town, even considering the obvious downsides of it.

Lee Spangler said...

Don't remember if I saw what had been there. I like the pilings too so do the birds.

Lowell said...

Thanks, Lee! You made me remember something I meant to say earlier: The pilings are literally "for the birds."

You're so smart!!

Sueso said...

I'm sure the fish like to use them to hide as well...These pilings are sunk very very deeply into bedrock so not an easy task to pull them up I imagine and like you nice to look at...history...and wonder what was there.

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