Vancouver, Washington, is situated on the northern bank of the Columbia River, approximately ten miles north of Portland, Oregon, and 305 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Like its Canadian counterpart, the city was named after sea captain George Vancouver, an officer in the Royal Navy who became famous for exploring the northwest coast of North America. To avoid confusion between the two cities, Washington residents often refer to the Canadian Vancouver as "Vancouver B.C." while calling their own Vancouver "America's Vancouver."
Incorporated in 1857, Vancouver is the county seat of Clark County. It is among the largest cities in the state, with a population estimate of nearly 160,000. Residents of Vancouver take advantage of mild summers and cold winters with a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, hiking, mountaineering, snowshoeing, skiing, and whitewater kayaking.
While the majority of Vancouver's residents can be described as young, educated singles who are upwardly mobile, there are also many residents of various ages, ethnicities, and income brackets to give the city an interesting mix of citizens from all walks of life.
Since the mid-1990s, the city of Vancouver has worked to revitalize a large portion of its downtown area with the construction of condominiums, a large hotel, a shopping complex, and a new seven-story building for its newspaper, The Columbian. The city has embraced these changes and has dedicated itself to continue working on the redevelopment of this area. In recent years, the city has explored plans to build a new library, condominium complexes, a new hotel, offices, and office parks.
For residents who love the excitement of city living and who want to live within walking distance of shops, businesses, and entertainment, Vancouver's downtown neighborhoods offer everything from high-rise apartment complexes to single-family homes. For those who love city life but prefer quieter residences and family-friendly neighborhoods, the Walnut Grove neighborhood offers established single-family homes.
Vancouver's economic landscape has evolved from fur trading and salmon fishing in its earliest history, to lumber in the 1880s, to airplane manufacturing in the early 20th century, to the high-tech and service-industry focus of recent years. Some of the largest employers in Vancouver are government agencies and school districts, and include:
Other large companies in Vancouver are the Kroger Corporation's Fred Meyer grocery stores, as well as high-tech companies like Hewlett-Packard, WaferTech, and SHE America. The corporate headquarters for Nautilus, Inc. is also in Vancouver.
Vancouver is home to a number of notable buildings, including some designed by the one of the city's original architects: Mother Joseph, a Canadian nun who was responsible for designing a number of hospitals, educational institutions and schools, and orphanages throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge has more than 5,000 acres of habitat where visitors can watch migrating birds and other kinds of wildlife. Dan Ponciano Guide Service offers guided fishing tours in the Columbia River, where salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, and walleye abound. Rendezvous River Cruises features tours and dinner cruises on the Columbia River.
Numerous trails throughout Vancouver offer walking, jogging, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. These trails include Ellen Davis Trail, Battle Ground Lake, Frenchman's Trail, Bells Mountain Trail, Cougar Creek Trail, Burnt Bridge Trail, Discovery Loop, Evergreen Trail, Lacamas Trail, Steigerwald Trail, Renaissance Trail, Salmon Creek Trail, and Whipple Creek Park Trail.