Before the Great War Though Astoria had been a fairly small city for most of its existence, counting less than ten thousand inhabitants around the year 2000, it gained an economic bloom in the second half of the 21st Century. Its favourable location by the mouth of the river turned it into a proper port city, and the place expanded until it had no less than 150,000 inhabitants by 2077. On the eve of the Great War, the city had access to a wide variety of facilities to cater the population: a couple of hypermodern malls, the so-called "Ultramart", dot the area, which contained shops of all sorts, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, casinos, and even virtual golf courses. These one-stop shops were capable of supplying all that an Astorian inhabitant could possibly need, and are a testament to the decadence of Pre-War society.
Since Astoria was a fairly small city in comparison to metropoles like Seattle to the north or Portland to the southeast, it mostly went ignored by the Chinese bombs, though the sheer amounts of radiation wafting in from all sides eradicated most of the population, leaving the city desolate and empty, with the only remaining inhabitants being a few Ghouls and the Ultramarts' robotic attendants.
The idea of a mostly unharmed city ripe for the taking was, of course, very alluring for many Wastelanders. It did not take very long before the city was bristling with life again. That changed, however, when a prominent Raider gang invaded in 2156 and established itself as the ruling party. The blossoming community that had been forming before their arrival gradually diminished again, until only a shadow of the former population remained. The Raider gang withered with the rest of the people, and eventually retreated into controlling just the bridge. They eventually reformed into the organisation now known as the Crossguards.
With this new shift in power also came a new brand of inhabitants. The city, once still in mint condition but now more worn-out and messier, gained a population more typical of the average Wastelander: they kept more to themselves, and the communities that formed within the city perimeter were no longer a single whole.
A former Raider gang, they are now devoted to exploiting their control of the only crossing over the Columbia River. Though they are no longer the savages they used to be, they are still quite cruel and are not to be meddled with. The Crossguards operate from a base they constructed themselves on top of the bridge.
Of the three Ultramarts in Astoria, one was cleared of its robotic personnel by four Mexican families in the early 23rd Century. The place is now their home, and a fairly thriving community has formed from these families. Though they are wary of strangers, they are not hostile unless provoked, and occasionally trade with other settlers in the city.
The largest of the three Ultramarts, no one has been successful in clearing this facility of its Pre-War inhabitants, and as such it remains in the exact same condition it was back in 2077. Its shops are still stocked and all systems are fully functional; for anyone with some Pre-War money to spare, this place is a dream come true.
When the Crossguards first came to town, they ransacked the Ultramart closest to their base of operations. Located by the river, Ultramart North has been vacant ever since, both because no one wants to settle that close to the Crossguards and because a unique strain of Mirelurks crawl from the river there. Recently, though, people have heard sounds coming from its direction, and rumours have spread about someone reactivating the robots inside...
Big Jim's Tavern
The final stop for many travellers seeking passage north is Big Jim's Tavern, a hospitable pub restored to its Pre-War glory. People come here looking for work, rumours or just a stiff drink, and Big Jim can provide them all.