Astounding Astoria: Portland’s cool coastal cousin
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Manhattan has Brooklyn, and more specifically Williamsburg. Portland has the Oregon Coast, and most importantly, the port of Astoria, .
It might seem strange comparing the two, what with Williamsburg just being a subway stop or two from the Big Apple and Astoria being…well…around a two-hour drive from downtown Portland. But the comparison sticks if you look at how both have become hipster havens for city folk looking for a new place to crash.
Astoria has always been a haven for guys with great mustaches. Way back, say two centuries ago, wealthy New York industrial magnate John Jacob Astor sent out the Astor Expedition that founded Fort Astoria as its primary fur-trading post in the Northwest, and made it the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Coast. It was an extremely important post for American exploration of the continent and was influential in establishing American claims to the land. Fort Astoria was constructed in 1811.
Speed up to 1985, when Hollywood invaded this small coastal port town and made the adventure-comedy classic “The Goonies” (Truffle Shuffle, anyone?).
In between those years Astoria has seen its share of ups and downs from the shifting tides of the fishing industry that it once relied heavily upon as well as logging and timber that once played a major role in this region. Today, tourism and a growing art scene are two of the economic activities that drive this city.
And with that drive, Portland’s Wiliamsburg has taken off.
Here’s what makes Astoria so hip:
Venture past the Astoria-Megler Bridge and you will find yourself next to a ship yard of once sea-worthy vessels that now look more like haunted ghost ships of their former selves.
Sip and eat
Finding a great place to eat on the Oregon coast can be as tricky as trying to spot a pod of traveling "grey-back" whales. But, as with whale watching, if you know what to look for, you’ll be able in for a treat. Thankfully, Astoria has plenty of great places to dine. Here are just a few:
Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro (243 11th St., (503) 325-1787) is a great place to dine whether its breakfast, lunch, dinner or you just want a frothy cappuccino.
Albatross (225 14th St., (503) 741-3091) is a relatively new joint from the same dude who gave us McMinnville Thistle. Eric Berchard’s slender café is big on atmosphere and soon will be even bigger as he plans to expand into a space next door. Check it out on Facebook for upcoming events and more.
Beer lovers are well catered for in Astoria, too: Fort George Brewery (1483 Duane St., (503) 325-7468, seems to be where all the cool kids hang out with their own kids. Buoy Beer Co. (No. 1 Eighth St., (503) 325-4540) is kid-friendly too, with the added bonus of being able to drink your brew while watching baby seals sleeping under the secret, see-through floor.
The explosion of cool spaces and places are proof that the coastal town they forgot to shut down has been reinvented a la Williamsburg, but with nearby beaches that put Brooklyn to shame.
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