The Unique History of Vancouver, Washington

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December 5, 2012

Portland, is widely known for its art, culture and food scene, and it’s deep historical roots in the region. However, many people don’t know that its lesser-known smaller counterpart Vancouver, Washington shares just as much and possibly greater historical significance. Some may group Portland and Vancouver together but Vancouver has many unique attributes that set it apart.

You may ask, “How is it that Vancouver could hold greater historical significance than Portland?” In 1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in the Vancouver area, as it was thought to be the only desirable location for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. This event paved the way for the first established settlement in the greater Portland area known as Fort Vancouver, which started as a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post. A replica of this fort stands near the original site and is maintained by the National Park Service.

In 1857 the City of Vancouver was incorporated.In 1890 The Columbian newspaper was founded, which is still in circulation today as one of the oldest in the region. The next big milestone in Vancouver’s history was the opening of the Interstate Bridge in 1917 which finally allowed motorists to drive the Pacific Highway from Mexico to Canada without a ferry.

Not only do these major historical incidents set Vancouver apart from Portland, but many cultural events are unique to the city. In 1956 the legendary Willie Nelson moved to Vancouver and made his first recording. The country star lived in Vancouver until 1960 where he was a local radio announcer and nightclub singer. The first Burgerville opened in 1961 and who in the Northwest hasn’t had at least one meal from Burgerville? The city also boasts the oldest park in the state and the nation’s biggest firework display west of the Mississippi every July 4. And not to forget, Stahancyk, Kent and Hook’s Vancouver office is located in the historic Charles Brown House. For more information on the house please visit

Vancouver has grown immensely in its 150 years but still retains a small town feel which is why it remains attractive to people today. This, coupled with the unique attributes listed above are just a fraction of Vancouver’s unique characteristics that set it apart from Portland.