Vancouver is a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat of Clark County. According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management's estimate in July of 2008, the city has a population of 163,186, making it the fourth largest city in the state. It is part of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, which is the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the United States with over 2 million residents
The larger city of Vancouver, British Columbia is located 305 miles north of Vancouver, Washington. Both cities were named for sea captain George Vancouver, but the Canadian city was not incorporated until 1886, nearly thirty years after the incorporation of Vancouver, Washington, and more than sixty years after the name Vancouver was first used in reference to the nearby historic Fort Vancouver. City officials have periodically suggested changing the city's name to Fort Vancouver, Vancouver USA, or even Old Vancouver to reduce confusion with Vancouver, British Columbia. Many Pacific Northwest residents distinguish between the two cities by referring to the Canadian Vancouver as "Vancouver, B.C" and the United States one as "Vancouver, Washington", or simply as "The 'Couv(e)," as the latter is not used in reference to the Canadian city.
The Vancouver, Washington area was inhabited by a variety of Native American tribes, most recently the Chinook and Klickitat nations, with permanent settlements of timber longhouses. The Chinookan and Klickitat names for the area were reportedly Skit-so-to-ho and Ala-si-kas, respectively, meaning "land of the mud-turtles." First European contact was in 1775, with approximately half of the indigenous population dead from small pox before the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in the area in 1806. Within another fifty years, other actions and diseases such as measles, malaria and influenza had reduced the Chinookan population from an estimated 80,000 "to a few dozen refugees, landless, slaveless and swindled out of a treaty."
Meriwether Lewis wrote that the Vancouver area was "the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains." The first permanent European settlement did not occur until 1824, when Fort Vancouver was established as a fur trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company. From that time on, the area was settled by both the US and Britain under a "joint occupation" agreement. Joint occupation led to the Oregon boundary dispute and ended on June 15, 1846, with the signing of the Oregon Treaty, which gave the United States full control of the area. Before 1845, American Henry Williamson laid out a large claim west of the Hudson's Bay Company (including part of the present-day Port of Vancouver), called Vancouver City and properly registered his claim at the U.S. courthouse in Oregon City, before leaving for California. The City of Vancouver was incorporated on January 23, 1857 and in 2007 marked its sesquicentennial.Based on an act in the 1859-1860 legislature, Vancouver was briefly the capital of the Washington Territory, before being returned to Olympia, Washington by a 2-1 ruling of the territory's supreme court, in accordance with Isaac Stevens' preference and concern that proximity to Oregon might give its southern neighbor undue influence. U.S. Army Captain (and future President) Ulysses S. Grant was quartermaster at what was then known as Columbia Barracks for 15 months beginning in September 1852. Soon after leaving Vancouver, he resigned from the army and did not serve again until the outbreak of the American Civil War. Other notable generals to have served in Vancouver include George B. McClellan, Philip Sheridan, Oliver O. Howard and 1953 Nobel Peace Prize recipient George Marshall.
Army presence in Vancouver was very strong, as the Department of the Columbia built and moved to Vancouver Barracks, the military reservation for which stretched from the river to what is currently Fourth Plain Boulevard and was the largest Army base in the region until surpassed by Fort Lewis, 120 miles (190 km) to the north. Built on the old company gardens and skirmish range, Pearson Army Field (later Pearson Field) was a key facility, and at one point the US Army Signal Corps operated the largest spruce cut-up plant in the world to provide much-needed wood for airplanes. Vancouver became the end point for two ultra-long flights from Moscow, USSR over the North Pole. The first of these flights was performed by Valery Chkalov in 1937 on a Tupolev ANT-25RD airplane. Chkalov was originally scheduled to land at an airstrip in nearby Portland, OR, but redirected at the last minute to Vancouver's Pearson Airfield. Today there is a street named for him in Vancouver. In 1975 an obelisk was erected on an airfield commemorating this event.Separated from Oregon until 1917, when the Interstate Bridge began to replace ferries, Vancouver had three shipyards just downstream which produced ships for World War I before World War II brought an enormous economic boom. An Alcoa aluminum plant opened on September 2, 1940, using inexpensive power from the nearby New Deal hydropower turbines at Bonneville Dam. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Henry Kaiser opened a shipyard next to the U.S. Army reserve, which by 1944 employed as many as 36,000 people in a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week production of liberty ships, LST's, and "baby flat tops." This influx of shipyard workers boosted the population from 18,000 to over 80,000 in just a few months, leading to the creation of the Vancouver Housing Authority and six new residential developments: Fruit Valley, Fourth Plain Village, Bagley Downs, Ogden Meadows, Burton Homes and McLoughlin Heights. Each of these was later incorporated into the city, and are well-known neighborhoods, while the neighboring "shipyard city" of Vanport, Oregon, would be destroyed by the Memorial Day flood of 1948.
In 1956, Willie Nelson moved to Vancouver to begin his musical career, recording "Lumberjack." The single sold fairly well, but it did not establish his career. Nelson continued to work as a radio announcer in Vancouver and sing in clubs. He sold a song called "Family Bible" for $50; the song was a hit for Claude Gray in 1960, has been covered widely and is often considered a gospel music classic. Vancouver has recently experienced conflicts with other Clark County communities because of rapid growth in the area. As a result of urban growth and annexation, Vancouver is often thought of as split between two areas, East and West Vancouver, divided by NE Andresen Road. West Vancouver is home to downtown Vancouver and some of the more historical parts of the city, as well as recent high-density mixed-use development.
More than one-third of the Vancouver urban area's population has spilled into an unincorporated urban area north of its city limits, including the communities of Hazel Dell, Felida, Orchards and Salmon Creek. If county leaders had approved a major annexation plan in 2006, Vancouver would have passed Tacoma and Spokane to become the state's second-largest city.
When clouds do not blanket the Puget-Willamette trough formed by the Cascade and Coast Range, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams are all visible from somewhere in Vancouver.
Vancouver lies just north of Portland, Oregon and shares a similar climate, with certain key exceptions. High pressures east of the Cascade Range create something of a venturi effect, leading to cold east winds down the Columbia River Gorge. Unsheltered by the Willamette Valley, Vancouver has historically seen colder temperatures, including "silver thaw" storms where freezing rain cakes limbs and power lines. Such storms can paralyze Vancouver, frequently froze the river and in 1916 cut electric power in the city for almost two weeks. Rainfall occurs frequently throughout the fall, winter, and spring, but shuts off starting around the middle of June, with dry and warm weather lasting through September. Average annual precipitation is 42 inches. Heavy snowfalls are infrequent and snow often falls and doesn't stick, with major snowstorms only occurring every 2–4 years.
Vancouver is located at 45°38′1″ North, 122°36′11″ West (45.633743, -122.603011) just north of the Columbia River, just west of where the Columbia River Gorge bisects the volcanic Cascade Range and just east of where the Willamette River enters the Columbia. The city of Vancouver is in the Western Lowlands region of Washington.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.1 square miles.
Districts and their NeighborhoodsEdit
Burnt Bridge Creek
Burton / Evergreen
Cascade South East
East Old Evergreen Highway
Esther Short (Downtown)
Fairway / 164th
Father Blanchet Park
Fisher's Landing East
Fourth Plain Village
Landover - Sharmel
North Garrison Heights
Village at Fisher's Landing
Smith Tower is a landmark as well as numerous churches and Fort Vancouver.
The Vancouver Voice
Vancouver Business Journal
Basketball: IBL: Vancouver Volcanoes
South West Washington Medical Center
Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital
Vancouver has two interstate freeways, I-5 and I-205, both of which run north–south, into Portland, Oregon. It also has two heavily travelled state highways within the city limits. SR 14 begins at I-5 in downtown Vancouver and makes its way east. It is a freeway all the way until Camas. SR 500 begins from I-5 at 39th Street in north Vancouver, travels east connecting with I-205, and continues east into the suburb of Orchards where the freeway terminates at Fourth Plain Boulevard, and meets with the south end of north-south-oriented 117th Ave., SR 503. A third state highway, SR 501, starts at I-5 and heads west through downtown and continues along a path that runs between the Columbia River and Vancouver Lake.
The Port of Vancouver USA operates a port on the Columbia River, which separates Oregon to the south and Washington to the north. It handles over 400 ocean-going vessels annually, as well as a number of barges which ply the river and its tributaries as far as Lewiston, Idaho. The area's mass transit system is C-TRAN, the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority, which operates 135 buses, vanpools, and paratransit vehicles. There are also a number of express routes into Portland's downtown.
Vancouver has always been well served by rail; current freight railroads operating in Vancouver include the BNSF, Union Pacific, and the local shortline Lewis and Clark Railway. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Vancouver. Three routes, the Coast Starlight, the Empire Builder, and the Amtrak Cascades serve the city.
Pearson Field, located near downtown Vancouver, is the main airport serving the city. The airport is intended primarily for general aviation without any commercial air service. The nearest commercial airport is Portland International Airport (PDX).