For much of its history, Coos Bay was reliant on its vast natural resources, including timber, fishing, ranching and mining. A temperate climate, plenty of rain, clean air and big open spaces made for a healthy, prosperous population during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fortunes were made in shipbuilding and transporting raw goods to the San Francisco and Portland markets. Timber, beef, lamb, dairies, cheese, salmon fishing, tuna canning, fresh halibut and Dungeness crab, all made for a good living for area residents.
Today, like many post industrial, middle class cities, Coos Bay is going through a transition, from a resource driven economy to something new that has not entirely evolved to its finished state. It is an economy that is part tourism, part service, part natural resources, and part servicing a growing retirement community.
Progress is evident. The seeds of gentrification are sprouting on the main thoroughfares and side streets, where you’ll find the new coffee shops and bakeries (check out Darrell’s Devil’s Food and Kaffe 101), the Farmer’s Market (located on Central Ave beginning in May), and a growing diversity of restaurants (sophisticated new age offerings at Restaurant O, modern Japanese at Tokyo Bistro, Neapolitan style pizzeria and cafe at Front Street Provisioners, to name a few). The Coos Art Museum is a wonderful place to visit in the downtown business district, just a block from our new Coastal Sotheby’s International Realty office, and not far from the newly renovated and historic Egyptian Theatre. There’s a new major shopping center under construction on the waterfront. All these new businesses, new construction projects, and older buildings undergoing renovation, are taking hold and transforming the area.
As the old economy fades, new businesses and industries are springing up and taking their place: tourism, call centers, health care, internet based services and consultancies, and transportation via one of the west coasts’ deepest maritime harbors, are staking a claim in the local economy’s evolving future.
People often remark that from the air, Coos Bay and North Bend, wrapped as they are by miles of sloughs and tidewater streams, have the lovely appearance of the San Francisco bay. Popular residential areas including Telegraph Hill and Date Street look out on the waterways, with homes that buyers find to be surprisingly good values.
There’s more than meets the eye in this town. It is an exciting time, with new blood, new hopes, and new dreams. The residual grittiness is still apparent, but there is a bright sense of promise in the air that cannot be denied.