Longview, Washington is about an hour’s drive from Vancouver and about the same distance from Astoria, Oregon.
The city has a unique civic history. It’s the only city to have been planned and built with private funds. The town was founded by Robert Alexander Long, the president of the Long-Bell timber company. Traces of that history is reflected all over the town, in street names and statues, like this one in the historic downtown distict.
The timber industry — though dropping over the last two decades — is still a vital part of the economic life of Longview. Timber is among the products shipped through the Port of Longview, which is directly or indirectly responsible for an estimated 12,119 jobs (pdf).
The city’s arts and educational opporunities have expanded in recent years. Longview’s historic Columbia Theatre has completed a dramatic renovation. And the Lower Columbia College has created educational partnerships which now make it possible for students to get undergraduate degrees without leaving Longview.
Longview has many distinctions, not the least of which is being the only city that is home to three squirrel bridges. Fifty years ago, a man named Amos Peters built the first one, and more recently, the town has come together to create a festival around the squirrels and raise money to build two more bridges. (A fourth is in the works.)