Category: Pacific-Northwest

Astor Column

Visitors to Astoria, Oregon, and even some residents, mistakenly refer to the Astor Column as the Astoria Tower. It is most definitely not a tower. It is a column, patterned after Trajan column in Rome, designed by architect Electus Ritchfield. The exterior is decorated with a mural originally painted by Italian artist Atillio Pusterla. As it spirals up the column, the frieze depicts scenes from Oregon history. The Astor Column was dedicated in 1926. It is the world’s only large piece of memorial architecture made of reinforced concrete with a pictorial frieze in sgraffito technique.

The Astor Column rises 125 feet at the top of Coxcomb hill. The visitor who climbs the 164 steps is rewarded with a breathtaking view from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia River as far as Tongue Point, a promontory jutting into the river, as well as the area countryside with its tide lands and hills, divided by two feeders, Youngs River and the Lewis & Clark River.

At the base of the column is a bronze relief map of the area. A shallow X, refreshed every few years or so, marks where I grew up. A plaque commemorates the first cable television transmission in 1948. There is also a replica of Clatsop canoe in honor of Chief Concomoly, leader of the Clatsop Indians who greeted the first whites to come to the area to establish a fur trading post.

In 1995 a two-year project column restoration project commenced. Over the years weather and salt air took their toll, dimming the mural to the point where the images were hardly distinguishable. Internationally renowned experts cleaned, reconstructed and restored the frieze to its original beauty.

Facts checked: http://www.oldoregon.com/
http://www.el.com/to/astoria/

© 2001-2006, originally published Jul 02, 2001