Did You Know?

There are a great many things about Vancouver that many residents simply didn’t know about their city. Most of the “I didn’t know that” moments are about good stuff actually. In our culture of negativity where everyone is angry about everything, it is nice to know about the good stuff going on in our fair city.

Vancouver USA has been regularly selected by a wide range of publications as one of America’s best cities to live in, work in, retire to, etc. We are constantly appearing on top cities for _____ lists in magazines, blogs, and news sites.

I figured I could create a list of things people might not realize about America’s Vancouver. Everything I found is either in or about a Vancouver neighborhood or immediately adjacent to a Vancouver neighborhood. Here is my list of “did you knows”? for the ‘Couv’ :

  • The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is accessible from Vancouver and part of the Refuge is inside the 98660 zip code which includes the Port of Vancouver and Downtown. Yes it’s that close!
  • According to 2018 census estimates more than 320,000 people live in Vancouver’s eleven residential zip codes. (The other three city zip codes are government and/or postal boxes only)
  • The City of Vancouver has over 15 miles of Columbia River waterfront stretching from the west end of the Port of Vancouver USA to the city of Camas boundary on the east!
  • 38% of Clark County Residents live in the incorporated city of Vancouver and 2 out of 3 Clark County residents live in one of those aforementioned Vancouver city zip codes.
  • Roughly 42% of Vancouver residents live outside the incorporated city limits.
  • Vancouver is substantially more than twice as large as all other Clark County cities combined.
  • Vancouver is the oldest European settlement in the Portland-Vancouver Metro Area.
  • Vancouver has effectively transcended its status as a large Portland suburb being larger than the next three largest suburbs combined and having our own proper urban downtown, our own port, and our own urban rail yard.
  • Vancouver’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) extends from NE 179th Street in the NW and NE 119th Street in the NE corner down along the Camas city boundary to the Columbia River and includes roughly 90 square miles. The current population within that boundary exceeds 320,000 people and at suburban levels at build out will support a population of a half million.
  • Upon completion of the Orchards annexation Vancouver will be Washington’s second largest city and larger than any city in the Pacific Northwestern USA not named Portland or Seattle.
  • Pearson Field is one of the two oldest continuously active airfields in the United States! Which is oldest is in dispute 😉
  • Fort Vancouver is the only National Park site in the Portland-Vancouver Metro Area. (The McLoughlin House in Oregon City is part of the Fort Vancouver site and is open for tours on weekends.)
  • Vancouver has an extensive urban green-way throughout the city. The longest being the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail which is 8 miles in length running from Meadowbrook Marsh Park all the way to Vancouver Lake.
  • Vancouver Lake is the largest lake entirely in Clark County (the Lewis River Reservoirs are shared by Clark and Cowlitz counties and are larger) At its widest point is is 2.3 miles across and covers an area of more than 2300 acres (3.6 Sq Miles) making it larger than the entire city of La Center and Yacolt combined. Average depth a shallow 3 feet and there is a natural looking but actually man made island covering about a 100 acres.
  • With the recent completion of improvements to SR 500, Vancouver is now served by four limited access highways (freeways).
  • Greater Vancouver neighborhoods are served by 11 traditional public high schools in five different districts. Four in Vancouver SD serving the west side: Fort Vancouver, Hudsons Bay, Columbia River, and Skyview. Four in Evergreen SD serving the east side: Evergreen, Mountain View, Heritage, and Union. One each in Battleground SD, Ridgefield SD, and Hockinson SD: Prairie serving portions of the Orchards area, Ridgefield serving a portion of the Mount Vista neighborhood, and Hockinson serving an area around Ward Road and 162nd Avenue in NE Vancouver.
  • In addition to the 11 traditional high schools Vancouver has two advanced academics public high schools. Vancouver SD, Arts and Academics and Evergreen SD Henrietta Lacks Health and Bio Science.
  • Vancouver has the regional vocational high school Cascadia Technical Academy that serves SW Washington and is one of six vocational high school campuses in Washington State.
  • Vancouver is further served by the Washington State School for the Blind and Washington State School for the Deaf as well as several other alternative high schools in the public system and a number of secular and religious private schools.
  • Vancouver is further served in post secondary education by Clark College and WSU Vancouver.
  • Neighborhoods in Vancouver are less than 90 minutes away from 4 of 5 Mount Hood ski areas and another 30 minutes to the 5th.
  • Vancouver is less than 30 minutes away from the entrance to the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
  • The longest continuous stretch of freeway in Vancouver is Interstate 205 at 10.5 miles from the Glen Jackson Bridge to the Salmon Creek Interchange with I-5.  I-5 comes in shorter at 9.3 miles from the Interstate Bridge to NE 179th Street (northern reach of Vancouver UGB). SR-14 running from Downtown to the Camas city boundary is 10.3 miles and is ENTIRELY in the incorporated city of Vancouver, the two interstates pass through some of Vancouver’s unincorporated neighborhoods.
  • Vancouver’s population rose from the 1940 census value of about 19,000 to roughly 80,000 at the peak of WWII shipbuilding in 1943. After the war the population retreated back to the 1950 census value about 41,000. A dozen of the Kaiser Shipyards Dry Dock launches are still visible along the riverbanks of the Columbia Way Industrial Area.
  •  Five major Cascade Peaks (Rainier 14,410′, Adams 12,281′, Hood 11,249′, Jefferson 10,502′, and St. Helens 8,365′) are visible from various neighborhoods in Vancouver and ALL five are visible from some high rise buildings in Downtown Vancouver.
  • Vancouver’s tallest residential building is Smith Tower 15 stories and roughly 160′ tall
  • Vancouver’s tallest office building is 805 Broadway at about 165 feet tall and 10 floors.
  • Vancouver’s tallest hospital tower is Firstenburg Tower at Peace Health SW Washington Medical Center listed on Emporis at 160 feet tall and 8 stories, but I measure closer to 145 feet on that building.
  • Vancouver’s tallest human occupied building is Great Western Malting / United Grain silo elevator tower at the Port of Vancouver, 345 feet tall approximately 25 stories.
  • Vancouver’s tallest structure is a power transmission line tower at the Port of Vancouver which is over 500 feet tall (40 stories)
  • Vancouver receives less rain annually than most east Coast cities.
  • Vancouver receives less than 8 inches of snow annually on average.
  • The longest bridge in Vancouver spans the Columbia from Cascade Park to Portland and measures 11,750 feet in length and 144 feet high.
  • The tallest bridge towers in town are the four Interstate bridge lift towers measuring approximately 230 feet each, all of them are on the Vancouver side of the river.
  • The Interstate Bridge is the only lift span in the western US on an Interstate Highway.

There it is a random list of factoids about our wonderful city of Vancouver USA!

Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.

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An Old School look at the New ‘Couv’

We had some pretty nice weather this past weekend. Saturday had some mostly sunny skies with a high in the mid to upper sixties and yesterday managed to get real close to seventy under gorgeous autumn sunshine.

The wife and I were planning on attending the First Friday events but she was a bit under the weather so we stayed home. The Friday Market event that coincides with First Friday has moved from the Main Street building that they outgrew to the facilities and Warehouse 23 on the Terminal One pier. We will have to catch up on that next month.

We ended up at the waterfront on Saturday afternoon. I brought one of my favorite older cameras with me, my Kodak Signet 35. I love the look of that camera. It is well built and has some subtle but elegant Art Deco design elements. I love Art Deco!

I had it loaded with a half shot roll of film and figured I could finish it up while down on the water.

There was a flurry of activity including several groups of teenagers all dressed up for what was likely Homecoming events. The Grant Street Pier makes for a lovely backdrop for all those Instagram moments.

I captured a few ‘keepers’ on this amazing fall weekend. Ah, the ‘Couv’ life, it is good, even in black and white.

Waterfront Draws Residents from Afar

The Columbian ran an impressive spread in the Sunday paper about the waterfront as the first anniversary has come. In one article: Living the Waterfront Vancouver life, they interviewed a series of residents in the two occupied apartment buildings, Rediviva and Riverwest. Most of those they wrote about were transplants from other areas in the metro area, Portland, West Linn, and even one lady from New York City.

Drawing a ‘crowd’ from out of the area is indicative of regional success rather than just local success. For the last several years I have been seeing headlines from Portland press about Vancouver that are positive rather than the old condescending crap they used to spew out.

A couple of years ago Willamette Week had this headline regarding the ground breaking at the Waterfront: “Vancouver Just Gets Cooler…” The article goes on to suggest that Vancouver might just be “cooler” than Portland. There were some caveats to the suggestion, but none the less there it is. Here is the article in full.

Brian Libby, a Portland based architectural blogger, that is a big enough deal to get a one on one with Gramor president, Barry Cain, wrote some very interesting nuggets that were more than just a little complimentary.

   …Vancouver has in effect staked a claim to the Columbia River’s banks that Portland has never convincingly made. 

Brian also wrote one line in that article when noting that Vancouver seems to have transcended the Portland suburb status into something more. It isn’t like he could put his finger on what that was, but he wrote in comparison to Portland’s large suburbs: “There’s more of a true there there, more so than Gresham or Beaverton or Tigard or Hillsboro”.  I agree with him profusely and it was true even BEFORE the waterfront went in.

photo from confluence project website

Brian’s piece was well written and truly well thought out, he did some research, pulled some history and did a nice job on the article. But it is possible he is, like so many Portland media peeps, living in the ‘Rose City Bubble’. He had a classic ‘Vancouverous ignoramus maximus’ moment when he suggested that we eliminate Pearson Field. He wrote: “…but eliminating Pearson—which, as it happens, is directly across the river from another airport—would allow the adjacent Fort Vancouver to the north to connect with cityscape that gets pretty close to the Columbia, and coupled with some kind of path above or below the highway, it could connect to some existing waterfront area further east still that includes a residential neighborhood and a waterside McMenamins”. Seriously? Brian, dude! You did some research, you were doing so well, then you pulled a classic Portland move!

Pearson field is one of America’s most historic airfields, One of the two oldest continuously active airfields in the USA and the site of the Chaklov transpolar flight. Oh and one other thing about Pearson Mr. Libby, it is part of a NATIONAL PARK site and includes a museum! Are you kidding? You are a Portlander that suggests destroying a National Park site to make way for development? Isn’t that a capital offense in Portland? Do you hear that chanting outside your window? They are already calling for your head 😉 Oh, by the way, there is a pedestrian bridge across SR-14 freeway connecting the Fort to the Columbia Shores waterfront. Here is a picture Mr. Libby, it was erected in 2008 at a cost of more than $12 million. It was a very big deal when they built it. It is a gorgeous part of the joint local and national park system and part of the Confluence Project click here for info.

I know, I was kind of hard on Brian, he was doing so well, then he ruined the ride with that whole murder of Pearson bit. But I do like the article and his other work as well; so I’ll end this article with another quote from his article I really like. He closed the piece with this:

“This isn’t June 6, 1944, but I do feel like Vancouver has established a beachhead that could alter the city’s history”.

Oh yes we have. Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.