A Historic Look at Scandinavian Heritage in Astoria
By Ingrid Mueller
Published: 03/11/2020
Photo courtesy of Clatsop County Historical Society

In the late 1800s Scandinavian immigrants started arriving in Astoria, Oregon to find work in the booming fishing and logging industries. The town soon became the largest Finnish settlement west of the Mississippi.

At the turn of the century, the Finnish community was the largest immigrant population living in Astoria. Most lived in the Uniontown neighborhood, named after the short-lived Union Cannery, that was founded by Finnish fishermen in 1882. The Astoria Finnish Socialist Club soon became an important economic and social institution. They began Toveri, a Finnish-language socialist newspaper with a daily circulation of 4000, larger than any other paper in Astoria. At the center of social life was at Suomi Hall, originally built in 1886 and home to early Scandinavian societies or what locals called the Finnish Brotherhood. The organization first served as a sanctuary where Finnish immigrants could speak their native tongue and learn English. During its heyday, 1000 members had their own school with team sports, a cemetery and burial services for members without family resources.

Today, the Finnish Brotherhood supports a variety of Scandinavian events throughout the year including the popular Scandinavian Midsummer Festival held in June during the summer solstice.
Learn more by visiting Astoria Scandinavian Heritage Association.
A Historic Look at Scandinavian Heritage in Astoria