Hidden in plain sight, Coos Bay’s Front Street was originally a wharf which became the bustling heart of a water-dependent community (then called Marshfield). From the mid-1850s until the 1920s, the south end of the waterfront street (now 101 paralleling the boardwalk) was lined with hotels, drugstores, City Hall, barbershops, cigar and clothing stores that catered to towndwellers and to upriver customers who arrived by boat.
The north end of Front Street featured a fish packing plant, creamery, ice plant, and ironworks doing brisk waterside business.
The advent of car and train travel, followed by a devastating waterfront fire, eliminated almost all traces of Front Street’s glory: the shopping and business districts moved inland, to new and more fire-resistant buildings, and Front Street was abandoned to the maritime industry.
Today, Front Street is a quiet ghost of its former self. A short stroll north from the downtown boardwalk rewards visitors with views of real working tugs… and a treasure hunt for brass plaques that hint at Front Street’s former identity.
New business development along this stretch of Front Street has brought businesses such as Front Street Provisioners restaurant and the collaborative space at 999 Front Street to the community.
The Coos History Museum invites you to take another look at the waterfront, and join in the excitement about its potential. Enjoy finding the plaques as you stroll.