Astoria, Ore., is called ‘Little San Francisco’ for a reason – several reasons, actually By Susan Spano
Astoria, Ore., is tucked near the mouth of the mighty Columbia River where Lewis and Clark came to a weary halt in view of the Pacific Ocean. Fortunes made from fishing and lumber mills lined the town’s hilly streets with Victorian flights of fancy, thus the sobriquet “Little San Francisco.” The paint started peeling when the salmon gave out in the 1960s, but Astoria made a stunning comeback, starting with the construction of a 4-mile-long bridge that crosses the river to Washington state. The chandeliers were polished at its vintage 1920s Liberty Theater, now the heart of a thriving downtown filled with shops, galleries, martini bars and craft breweries; loving restoration secured the Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill; and four small museums operated by the Clatsop County Historical Society tell wild stories about Astoria’s 19th century red-light district. Then there’s the smashing Columbia River Maritime Museum, a paean to boats, from Native American canoes to Coast Guard life savers, and to the intrepid captains and crews. The tab: About $360 round trip between L.A. and Portland, Ore., on weekends on Alaska Air; car rental at Portland International Airport is about $30 per day; a two-night weekend stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel is $458 for a double, breakfast included; dinner at Clemente’s will run you about $100 for two; plus $50 for museum entrances, park admission and Ft. Clatsop.
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