Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Astoria in Clatsop County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

First on the Pacific: The Astoria Custom House

 
 
First on the Pacific: The Astoria Custom House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 23, 2017
1. First on the Pacific: The Astoria Custom House Marker
Captions: (bottom left) The U.S. Custom Service, created in 1789, collected duties and taxes as a source of revenue for the country. Until the Federal income tax was created in 1913, Customs funded virtually the entire government.; (bottom, 2nd from left) Between 1861 and 1873 the Customs Service was housed in an existing commercial building along the downtown riverfront. A third structure was completed in 1873 in downtown Astoria, a site still occupied by the Customs and Postal Service.; (top, 2nd from right) John Adair, the first Collector of U.S. Customs in Astoria, was appointed by President Polk in 1849, and served until 1961. He oversaw construction of the first two Customs Houses, in 1849 and 1852.; (top right) Ships await in Astoria's harbor. Ships entering U.S. waters from foreign ports had to register with customs officials.; (background) Sketch of Astoria as it appeared in 1849.
Inscription. In 1849, the U.S. Government established the first U.S. Customs Office on the Pacific Coast in Astoria. Located just 200 feet west of this site, the founding of the original Custom House brought change to the Northwest. It signaled a growing U.S. presence on the Pacific Coast and heralded Astoria's role as a vital port into region's growing economy.

A Seismic Shift
In the mid-1800s, the minor act of erecting a small wooden building on the Oregon coast brought huge changes. In 1849, Astoria became the first U.S. port of entry for goods reaching the west coast. Previously, ships that wanted to trade in the area dealt with officials from the Hudson's Bay Company.
After the construction of the Astoria Custom House, import duties and taxes were collected from ships by John Adair, an American official, as they crossed the bar from the Pacific Ocean on their way to Fort Vancouver, or later to Portland and the Willamette Valley.
As an official port of entry, business in Astoria revolved around the Custom House. At the time of its construction, Astoria consisted of two small settlement spread along the Columbia River shoreline with fewer than 200 people. However, when a ship appeared along the horizon, it brought about a burst of frenzied activity. Kitchen stoves were lit, fur traders brought out their pelts,
The 1852 Astoria Custom House and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 23, 2017
2. The 1852 Astoria Custom House and Marker
mills called workers to help load timber bound for San Francisco, and merchants readied their pocketbooks.
Ships brought more than just business. Mail, residents, and news from the rest of the world came ashore. Even things like the latest songs and fashions came to Astoria first and then filtered into the rest of the region because of the Custom House.
 
Erected by City of Astoria.
 
Location. 46° 11.568′ N, 123° 48.324′ W. Marker is in Astoria, Oregon, in Clatsop County. Marker is on Leif Erikson Drive (U.S. 30) near 34th Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3455 Leif Erikson Drive, Astoria OR 97103, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Imagine the Scene: Astoria's Custom House - 1849 (here, next to this marker); Custom House Reconstruction (a few steps from this marker); Fire Station No. 2 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Columbia River Bar (approx. mile away); Pilot Boat Peacock (approx. mile away); A Great Artery of Transportation (approx. one mile away); A Waterfront at Work (approx. one mile away); "Ocian in view, O! the Joy..." (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Astoria.
 
Categories. GovernmentIndustry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2018. This page originally submitted on February 7, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 7, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
Paid Advertisement