VANCOUVER HAS A STORY TO TELL
An area teeming with wildlife and other natural resources, the Vancouver area was home to native people who flourished in the rich and beautiful area along the Columbia River. It wasn’t until 1792 that the first non-native American, Robert Gray, sailed the Columbia River. Later that same year, Lt. William Broughton explored up the Columbia River by as many as 100 miles. Along the way, Lt. Broughton named a point of land after his commanding officer, Captain George Vancouver.
Very early in the following century, Lewis and Clark camped just east of what is now Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach while returning from their famous voyage to the Pacific Ocean. A few years later in 1825, Dr. James McLoughlin moved the northwest headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company upriver from Astoria to a more favorable setting — now called Fort Vancouver.
The north bank of the Columbia River thrived in the late 1800s. The waterfront bustled with business; An 1891 directory listed five sawmills, two sash-and-door factories, a box factory, three brickyards and a brewery owned by Henry Weinhard. The area was a transport hub with a ferry landing, rail stops and hotels.
After the turn of the century, Vancouver became a hotbed for shipbuilding. The G.M. Standifer Construction Corporation built two shipyards on the waterfront: A steel shipyard west of the current railroad bridge and a wooden ship facility at the current development site. Standifer Shipyards was Vancouver’s largest employer until it closed in 1921.
In the late 1940s, a paper mill was constructed on the site west of the Interstate 5 Bridge (built in 1917). The mill changed hands a number of times and was eventually operated by Boise Cascade until 1996. This prime real estate sat dormant until Columbia Waterfront LLC purchased the property in 2008.
As the development partnership came together, one goal has remained foremost in all planning: To create a world-class waterfront along the mighty Columbia River which will be the region’s next great gathering place, a new urban center for both visitors and residents alike.