Portland, Oregon: Wikis


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—  City  —
City of Portland
Downtown Portland across the Willamette River


Nickname(s): "Rose City," "Stumptown," "P-town," "PDX", and "Little Beirut"[1] See Nicknames of Portland, Oregon for a complete listing.
Location of Portland in Multnomah County and the state of Oregon
Portland is located in the USA
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 45°31′12″N 122°40′55″W / 45.52°N 122.68194°W / 45.52; -122.68194Coordinates: 45°31′12″N 122°40′55″W / 45.52°N 122.68194°W / 45.52; -122.68194
Country  United States
State  Oregon
Counties Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas
Founded 1845
Incorporated February 8, 1851
 - Type Commission
 - Mayor Sam Adams[2]
 - Commissioners Randy Leonard
Dan Saltzman
Nick Fish
Amanda Fritz
 - Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade
 - City 145.4 sq mi (376.5 km2)
 - Land 134.3 sq mi (347.9 km2)
 - Water 11.1 sq mi (28.6 km2)
Elevation 50 ft (15.2 m)
Population (2009)
 - City 582,130
 Density 4,288.38/sq mi (1,655.31/km2)
 Metro 2,159,720
 - Demonym Portlander
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 97086-97299
Area code(s) 503/971
FIPS code 41-59000[3]
GNIS feature ID 1136645[4]
Website www.portlandonline.com

Portland is a city located in the Northwestern United States, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the state of Oregon. As of July 2009, it has an estimated population of 582,130 making it the 29th most populous in the United States.[5] It has been referred to as the most environmentally friendly or "green" city in the United States, and the 2nd most in the world.[6] Portland is Oregon's most populous city, and the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest, after Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Approximately two million people live in the Portland metropolitan area (MSA), the 23rd most populous in the United States as of July 2006.[7]

Portland was incorporated in 1851 and is the county seat of Multnomah County.[8] The city extends slightly into Washington County to the west and Clackamas County to the south. It is governed by a commission-based government headed by a mayor and four other commissioners.

The city and region are noted for strong land-use planning[9] and investment in light rail, supported by Metro, a distinctive regional-government. Portland is known for its large number of microbreweries and microdistilleries, and its coffee fanaticism. It is also the home of the Trail Blazers NBA team.

Portland lies in the Marine west coast climate region, marked by warm, dry summers and rainy but temperate winters. This climate is ideal for growing roses, and for more than a century, Portland has been known as "The City of Roses"[10][11] with many rose gardens—most prominently the International Rose Test Garden.



Portland in 1890

Portland started as a spot known as "the clearing,"[12] which was on the banks of the Willamette about halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. In 1843, William Overton saw great commercial potential for this land but lacked the funds required to file a land claim. He struck a bargain with his partner Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts: for 25¢, Overton would share his claim to the 640 acre (2.6 km²) site. Overton later sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove and Lovejoy each wished to name the new city after his respective home town; this was decided with a coin toss, which Pettygrove won in a series of two out of three tosses.[13] The coin used for this decision, now known as the Portland Penny, is on display in the headquarters of the Oregon Historical Society.

At the time of its incorporation on February 8, 1851 Portland had over 800 inhabitants,[14] a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, the Weekly Oregonian. By 1879, the population had grown to 17,500.[15] The city merged with Albina and East Portland in 1891 and with Linnton and St. Johns in 1915.

Portland's location, with access both to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette and the Columbia rivers and to the agricultural Tualatin Valley via the "Great Plank Road" through a canyon in the West Hills (the route of current-day U.S. Route 26), gave it an advantage over nearby ports, and it grew quickly.[16] It remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattle's deepwater harbor was connected to the rest of the mainland by rail, affording an inland route without the treacherous navigation of the Columbia River.


The most common nickname for Portland is The City of Roses,[17] and this became the city's official nickname in 2003.[18] Other nicknames include Stumptown,[19] Bridgetown,[20] Rip City,[21] Little Beirut,[1] Beervana or Beertown,[22] P-Town,[18][23] and PDX.


The Willamette River runs through the center of the city, while Mount Tabor (center) rises on the city's east side. Mount Saint Helens (left) and Mount Hood (right center) are visible from many places in the city.


Portland lies at the northern end of Oregon's most populated region, the Willamette Valley. However, as the metropolitan area is culturally and politically distinct from the rest of the valley, local usage often excludes Portland from the valley proper. Although almost all of Portland lies within Multnomah County, small portions of the city lie within Clackamas and Washington counties with mid-2005 populations estimated at 785 and 1,455, respectively. The Willamette River runs north through the city center, separating the east and west sections of the city before veering northwest to join with the Columbia River (which separates the state of Washington from the state of Oregon) a short distance north of the city.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 145.4 sq mi (376.5 km²). 134.3 sq mi (347.9 km²) of it is land and 11.1 sq mi (28.6 km²), or 7.6%, is water.[24]

Portland lies on top of an extinct Plio-Pleistocene volcanic field known as the Boring Lava Field.[25] The Boring Lava Field includes at least 32 cinder cones such as Mount Tabor,[26] and its center lies in Southeast Portland. The dormant but potentially active volcano Mount Hood to the east of Portland is easily visible from much of the city during clear weather. The active volcano Mount Saint Helens to the north in Washington is visible in the distance from high-elevation locations in the city and is close enough to have dusted the city with volcanic ash after an eruption on May 18, 1980.[27]


Portland experiences a temperate climate that is usually described as Oceanic or Marine west coast, with mild, damp winters and relatively dry, warm summers. Like much of the Pacific Northwest, according to the Koeppen climate classification it falls within the cool, dry-summer subtropical zone (Csb), also referred to as cool-summer Mediterranean, due to its relatively dry summers.[28] Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).[29]

Summers in Portland are warm, sunny and rather dry, with July reaching an average high of 81 °F (27 °C) and a low of 58 °F (14 °C) late in the month. Due to its inland location and when there is an absence of a sea breeze, heatwaves occur (in particular during the months of July and August) with air temperatures rising to over 100 °F (38 °C). Winters can be mild to cold, and very moist, with January averaging a high of 46 °F (8 °C) and a low of 37 °F (3 °C), cold snaps are short-lived. Spring can bring rather unpredictable weather, resulting from warm spells, to thunderstorms rolling off the Cascade Range. The rainfall averages 37.5 inches (950 mm) per year in downtown Portland. Portland averages 155 days with measurable precipitation a year. Snowfall occurs no more than a few times per year, although the city has been known to see major snow and ice storms thanks to cold air outflow from the Columbia River Gorge. The city's winter snowfall totals have ranged from just a trace on many occasions, to 60.9 inches (154.7 cm) in 1892-93. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Portland was −3 °F (−19 °C), set on February 2, 1950. The highest temperature ever recorded was 107 °F (42 °C), set on July 30, 1965 as well as August 8, 1981, and August 10, 1981. Temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C) have been recorded in each of the months from May through September.

Climate data for Portland, Oregon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 63
Average high °F (°C) 45.4
Average low °F (°C) 33.7
Record low °F (°C) -2
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.35
Avg. rainy days 18 16 17 14 12 9 4 5 8 12 18 19 152
Avg. snowy days 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
Source: National Climatic Data Center[30] July 2009


Panorama of downtown Portland. Hawthorne Bridge viewed from a dock on the Willamette River near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Portland straddles the Willamette River near its confluence with the Columbia River. The denser and earlier-developed west side is mostly hemmed in by the nearby West Hills (Tualatin Mountains), though it extends over them to the border with Washington County. The flatter east side fans out for about 180 blocks, until it meets the suburb of Gresham. Rural Multnomah County lies farther east.

In 1891 the cities of Portland, Albina, and East Portland were consolidated, and duplicate street names were given new names. The "great renumbering" on September 2, 1931 standardized street naming patterns, and changed house numbers from 20 per block to 100 per block. It divided Portland into five sections: Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, North, and Northeast. Burnside St. divides north and south, and the Willamette River divides east and west. The river curves west five blocks north of Burnside and in place of it, Williams Ave. is used as a divider. The North section lies between Williams Ave. and the Willamette River to the west.

On the west side, the RiverPlace, John's Landing and South Waterfront Districts lie in a "sixth quadrant" where addresses go higher from west to east toward the river. This "sixth quadrant" is roughly bounded by Naito Parkway and Barbur Boulevard to the west, Montgomery Street to the north and Nevada Street to the south. East-West addresses in this area are denoted with a leading zero. (This means that 0246 SW California St. is NOT the same as 246 SW California St. Most mapping programs cannot distinguish these two different addresses.)

Parks and gardens

A panoramic view of the International Rose Test Garden
Tom McCall Waterfront Park seen from the north

Portland is proud of its parks and its legacy of preserving open spaces. Parks and greenspace planning date back to John Charles Olmsted's 1903 Report to the Portland Park Board. In 1995, voters in the Portland metropolitan region passed a regional bond measure to acquire valuable natural areas for fish, wildlife, and people. Ten years later, more than 8,100 acres (33 km2) of ecologically valuable natural areas had been purchased and permanently protected from development.[31]

Portland is one of only three cities in the contiguous U.S. with extinct volcanoes within its boundaries (besides Jackson, Mississippi and Bend, Oregon). Mount Tabor Park is known for its scenic views and historic reservoirs.[32]

Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, covering more than 5,000 acres (20 km²). Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park (a two-foot-diameter circle, the park's area is only about 0.3 square m). Washington Park is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. Nearby is Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along the west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre (15 ha) park was built in 1974 after Harbor Drive was removed and now hosts large events throughout the year. Portland's downtown features two groups of contiguous city blocks dedicated for park space: the North and South Park Blocks.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area is one of three Oregon State Parks in Portland and the most popular; its creek has a run of steelhead. The other two State Parks are Willamette Stone State Heritage Site located in the West Hills and the Government Island State Recreation Area located in the Columbia River near Portland International Airport.

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, which immortalizes three of the award-winning author's best known characters with bronze sculptures, quote plaques, and a fountain, is located in Grant Park, just a few blocks from the real Klickitat Street of "Henry Huggins" fame.

Leach Botanical Garden is a 15.6-acre (6 ha) botanical garden in the Southeast section of the city, featuring indigenous plants of the Pacific Northwest.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is a 9.49-acre (4 ha) garden in the southeastern city adjoining Reed College, featuring more than 2,500 rhododendron, azalea, and companion plants.

Hoyt Arboretum is a popular Portland open space, covering 185 acres (0.7 km2) of forested ridge-top about two miles (3 km) west of downtown. It is home to a collection of trees representing more than 1,100 species gathered from around the world.

Audubon Society of Portland, founded 1903, is one of the largest and oldest Audubon chapters in the country with over 10,000 members.

Culture and contemporary life

Portland is well known as a hub of American DIY youth culture. From the late 1980s through today, Portland has been a major center for movements such as zine-making, including hosting such events as the Portland Zine Symposium[33] and home to major zine distributors such as Microcosm. The DIY craft community has also seen a population explosion in Portland since the 1990s and now hosts such events as Crafty Wonderland[34] and regular Church of Craft[35] meetings, and is home to such stores as Knittn' Kitten,[36] SCRAP,[37] and many independently-owned stores such as Bolt, Yarn Garden,[38] and the downtown Fiber District. Portland is also home to radical feminist and lesbian activist movements as well as the home city of The Worlds Oldest Teenage Drag Queen Pageant Rose Bud and Thorn Pageant started in 1975 and modeled after the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon,[39] and the city is also considered a haven for punk, hardcore, crust punk and anarchist movements and subgenres, including the self-reliant DIY culture movement that has been part of the aforementioned subcultures.

Entertainment and performing arts

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, home of the Oregon Symphony, among others

Like most large cities, Portland has a range of performing arts institutions which include the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Symphony, Portland Center Stage, Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Portland Opera. It also has quite a few stages similar to New York's Off Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway such as Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Miracle Theatre, Stark Raving Theatre, and Tears of Joy Theatre. Portland hosts the world's only HP Lovecraft Film Festival[40] at the Hollywood Theatre.

Portland is home to famous bands such as The Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders, both famous for Louie Louie. Other widely known musical groups include The Dandy Warhols, Everclear, Modest Mouse, Pink Martini, Sleater-Kinney, The Shins, Blitzen Trapper, The Decemberists, and the late Elliott Smith.

Widely recognized animators include Matt Groening (The Simpsons) and Will Vinton (Will Vinton's A Claymation Christmas Celebration), and filmmaker Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, "Milk"). Actors from Portland include Sam Elliott and Sally Struthers; authors include Ursula K. Le Guin, Beverly Cleary and Chuck Palahniuk. Dan Steffan, cartoonist-illustrator for Heavy Metal and other magazines, lives in Portland.

Recent films set and shot in Portland include Extraordinary Measures, Body of Evidence, What the Bleep Do We Know!?,The Hunted, Twilight, Paranoid Park, Wendy and Lucy, Feast of Love, and Untraceable. An unusual feature of Portland entertainment is the large number of movie theaters serving beer, often with second-run or revival films. A notable example of these "brew and view" theaters is The Bagdad Theater and Pub.

TV shows including Leverage and Under Suspicion have been filmed in Portland.


The copper statue Portlandia above the entry to the Portland Building on SW 5th Avenue

Portland is home to a diverse array of artists and arts organizations, and was named in 2006 by American Style magazine as the tenth best Big City Arts Destination in the U.S.

The Portland Art Museum owns the city's largest art collection and presents a variety of touring exhibitions each year and with the recent addition of the Modern and Contemporary Art wing it became one of the United States' twenty-five largest museums. Art galleries abound downtown and in the Pearl District, as well as in the Alberta Arts District and other neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is located on the east bank of the Willamette River across from downtown Portland, and contains a variety of hands-on exhibits covering the physical sciences, life science, earth science, technology, astronomy, and early childhood education. OMSI also has an OMNIMAX Theater and is home to the USS Blueback (SS-581) submarine, used in the film The Hunt for Red October.

Portland is also home to Portland Classical Chinese Garden, an authentic representation of a Suzhou-style walled garden.

Portlandia, a statue on the west side of the Portland Building, is the second-largest hammered-copper statue in the U.S. (after the Statue of Liberty). Portland's public art is managed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

Powell's City of Books claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the United States and the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi River.

The Portland Rose Festival takes place annually in June and includes two parades, dragon boat races, carnival rides at Tom McCall Waterfront park, and dozens of other events.

Washington Park, in the West Hills, is home to some of Portland's most popular recreational sites, including the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, the World Forestry Center, and the Hoyt Arboretum.

Portland hosts a number of festivals throughout the year in celebration of beer, including the Oregon Brewers Festival. Held each summer during the last full weekend of July, it is the largest outdoor craft beer festival in North America with over 70,000 attendees in 2008.[41] Other major beer festivals throughout the calendar year include the Spring Beer and Wine Festival in April, the North American Organic Brewers Festival in June, the Portland International Beerfest in July,[42] and the Holiday Ale Festival in December.


Portland has many options for shopping. Some of the well known shopping areas are Downtown Portland, N.W. 23rd Avenue, Pearl District, and the Lloyd District. Major department stores include Nordstrom, Macy*s, Saks 5th Avenue, and Mario's. The major malls in the metropolitan area are Bridgeport Village, Washington Square, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Center, Vancouver Mall, and Pioneer Place. Another destination is The Saturday Market, a town bazaar-like environment where many kinds of goods are sold from Artisan Crafts to Tibetan Imports, reflecting the many cultures of Portland. The Saturday Market is open every weekend from March through Christmas. The Made in Oregon company is based in Portland; they specialize in Oregon produced products and gifts.


Portland is well-known for its microbrewery beer.[43] Oregon Public Broadcasting has documented Portland's role in the microbrew revolution in the United States, in a report called, "Beervana,"[44] a term that refers to a distinctly "Portland state of mind".[citation needed] Some illustrate Portlanders' interest in the beverage by an offer made in 1888, when local brewer Henry Weinhard volunteered to pump beer from his brewery into the newly dedicated Skidmore Fountain. However, the renown for quality beer dates to the 1980s, when state law was changed to allow consumption of beer on brewery premises. In short order, microbreweries and brewpubs began to pop up all over the city.[citation needed] Their growth was supported by the abundance of local ingredients, including two-row barley, over a dozen varieties of hops, and pure water from the Bull Run Watershed. The Willamette Valley is one of the leading hop growing regions in the United States.

Today, with twenty-eight breweries within the city, Portland is home to more breweries than any other city in the country.[43] The McMenamin brothers alone have over thirty brewpubs, distilleries, and wineries scattered throughout the metropolitan area, several in renovated theaters and other old buildings otherwise destined for demolition. Other notable Portland brewers include Widmer Brothers, BridgePort, and Hair of the Dog, as well as numerous smaller quality brewers. In 1999, author Michael "Beerhunter" Jackson called Portland a candidate for the beer capital of the world because the city boasted more breweries than Cologne, Germany. The Portland Oregon Visitors Association is promoting "Beervana" and "Brewtopia" as nicknames for the city.[45] In mid-January 2006, Mayor Tom Potter officially gave the city a new nickname—Beertown.[46]


Portland has a growing restaurant scene, and among three nominees, was recognized by the Food Network Awards as their "Delicious Destination of the Year: A rising city with a fast-growing food scene" for 2007.[47]

The original Stumptown Coffee location at 47th and Division.

The New York Times also spotlighted Portland for its burgeoning restaurant scene in the same year.[48] Travel + Leisure ranked Portland #9 among all national cities in 2007.[49] The city is also known for being the most vegetarian-friendly city in America.[50]

In addition to beer, Portland has become known as a premier coffee destination in the Pacific Northwest, second only to Seattle in terms of the abundance of its coffee houses. Yelp.com lists more than 20 coffee houses in Portland with 4.5-5 star ratings.[51] The city is home to the original Stumptown Coffee Roasters, well-known by aficionados as one of the nation's highest quality direct-trade roasteries,[52] as well as dozens of other micro-roasteries and cafes.


The Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland is home to the Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association.[53] Beginning in 2011, the city will host a Major League Soccer franchise, which will be a continuation of the Portland Timbers.[54] The city is also home to a number of minor league teams. Running is a popular sport in the metropolitan area, which hosts the Portland Marathon and much of the Hood to Coast Relay (the world's largest such event). Skiing and snowboarding are also highly popular, with a number of nearby resorts on Mount Hood, including year-round Timberline.

It was formerly home to the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, the first professional sports team in Oregon and the first professional hockey team in the U.S. The Rosebuds played in the 1916 Stanley Cup Final, the first U.S. team to do so.

Portland has one of the most active bicycle racing scenes in the United States, with hundreds of events sanctioned each year by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. Weekly events at Alpenrose Velodrome and Portland International Raceway allow for racing nearly every night of the week during spring and summer, and fall cyclocross races such as the Cross Crusade can have over 1000 riders and boisterous spectators.

Additionally, the Portland metro has its own Cricket league, Oregon Cricket League (OCL) that hosts 2 formats of the outdoor game of cricket every year.[55][56]

Club Sport League League championships Home venue Founded
Portland Trail Blazers Basketball National Basketball Association 1 (1976-77) Rose Garden 1970
Portland Timbers Soccer United Soccer Leagues First Division 0 PGE Park 2001
Portland Winterhawks Ice hockey Western Hockey League 2 (1982–83, 1997–98) Rose Garden, Memorial Coliseum 1976
Portland Beavers Baseball Pacific Coast League 9 (1901, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1936, 1945, 1983) PGE Park 1901
Rose City Rollers Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association 0 Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center 2004
Portland Chinooks Basketball International Basketball League 0 n/a 2005
Portland Naughty Dogs Paintball National Professional Paintball League n/a None 1996
Portland Wolfpack Mixed Martial Arts International Fight League 0 Rose Garden 2006


The Oregonian is the only daily general-interest newspaper serving Portland. It also circulates throughout the state and in Clark County, Washington.

Smaller local newspapers, distributed free of charge in newspaper boxes and at venues around the city, include the Portland Tribune (general-interest paper published on Thursdays), Willamette Week (general-interest alternative weekly), the The Portland Mercury (another weekly, targeted at younger urban readers), and The Asian Reporter (a weekly covering Asian news, both international and local).

Portland Indymedia is one of the oldest and largest Independent Media Centers. The Portland Alliance, a largely anti-authoritarian progressive monthly, is the largest radical print paper in the city. Just Out, published in Portland twice monthly, is the region's foremost LGBT publication. A biweekly paper, Street Roots, is also sold within the city by members of the homeless community.

The Portland Business Journal, a weekly, covers business-related news, as does The Daily Journal of Commerce. Portland Monthly is a monthly news and culture magazine. The Bee, over 100 years old, is another neighborhood newspaper serving the inner southeast neighborhoods.

Portland is well served by television and radio. The metro area is the 22nd largest U.S. market area with 1,086,900 homes and 0.992% of the U.S. market.[citation needed] The major network television affiliates include:


Portland's metro area population growth has outpaced the national average during the last decade, with current estimates showing an 80% chance of population growth in excess of 60% over the next 50 years.[57] This population growth has had effects on Portland's economy.

The Portland House-Price Index has remained stronger than the national average.

Portland's location is beneficial for several industries. Relatively low energy cost, accessible resources, North-South and East-West Interstates, international air terminals, large marine shipping facilities, and both west coast intercontinental railroads are all economic advantages.[58] The UK consulting firm Mercer, in a 2009 assessment "conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments", ranked Portland 42nd worldwide in quality of living; the survey factored in political stability, personal freedom, sanitation, crime, housing, the natural environment, recreation, banking facilities, availability of consumer goods, education, and public services including transportation.[59]

Real estate and construction

Urban Growth Portland Oregon.ogg
Video of Portland's Urban Growth boundary. The red dots indicate areas of growth between 1986 and 1996. (larger size)

Oregon's 1973 "urban growth boundary" law limits the boundaries for large scale development in each metropolitan area in Oregon.[60] This limits access to utilities such as sewage, water and telecommunications, as well as coverage by fire, police and schools.[60] Originally this law mandated that the city must maintain enough land within the boundary to provide an estimated 20 years of growth, however in 2007 the legislature altered the law to require the maintenance of an estimated 50 years of growth within the boundary, as well as the protection of accompanying farm and rural lands.[57]

The growth boundary, along with efforts of the PDC to create economic development zones, has led to the development of a large portion of downtown, a large number of mid- and high-rise developments, an overall increase in housing and business density, and an increase in average house prices.[61][62] In October, 2009, the Forbes magazine rated Portland as the 3rd safest city in America.[63]


Computer components manufacturer Intel is the Portland area's largest employer, providing jobs for more than 14,000 residents, with several campuses to the west of central Portland in the city of Hillsboro.[58] The metro area is home to more than 1,200 technology companies.[58] This high density of technology companies has led to the nickname Silicon Forest being used to describe Portland, a reference to the abundance of trees in the region.

Portland is home to the regional headquarters for Adidas. The metro area serves as the headquarters for the Columbia Sportswear corporation, Yakima Products and Nike, Inc.. Beaverton, Oregon's Nike, Inc. and Portland's Precision Castparts Corp. are the only two Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Oregon. Philip Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, is an Oregon native and University of Oregon alumnus.

The steel industry's history in Portland predates World War II. By the 1950s, the steel industry became the city's number one industry for employment.[64] The steel industry thrives in the region, with Schnitzer Steel Industries, a prominent steel company, shipping a record 1.15 billion tons of scrap metal to Asia during 2003.[64]

The aluminum industry expanded in the Portland area during the later half of the 20th century. This was primarily due to the comparatively low cost electricity in the region, courtesy of the many dams on local rivers. The industry has been one of the more intrusive industries politically however, due to the effect on residential and business energy costs to the rest of the city, and the pollution associated with aluminum production.[65]


Portland is the largest shipper of wheat in the United States,[66][67] and is the second largest port for wheat in the world.[68] The marine terminals alone handle over 13 million tons of cargo per year, and is home to one of the largest commercial dry docks in the country.[69][70] The Port of Portland is the third largest U.S. port on the west coast, though it is located about 80 miles (130 km) upriver.[58][70]


MAX Light Rail is the centerpiece of the city's public transportation system
Portland Streetcar runs north-south through Downtown
Portland Aerial Tram car descends towards the South Waterfront district

The Portland metropolitan area has transportation services common to major U.S. cities, though Oregon's emphasis on proactive land-use planning and transit-oriented development within the urban growth boundary means that commuters have multiple well-developed options.

Some Portlanders use mass transit for their daily commute. In 2005, 13%[71] rode buses, light rail, or the downtown streetcar. TriMet operates most of the region's buses and the MAX (short for Metropolitan Area Express) light rail system, which connects the city and suburbs. Westside Express Service, or WES, opened in February 2009 as commuter rail for Portland's western suburbs, linking Beaverton and Wilsonville. The Portland Streetcar operates from the south waterfront, through Portland State University and north to nearby homes and shopping districts. Within the Free Rail Zone, a designated geographic area centered in downtown, rides on TriMet's MAX and streetcar systems are free. Fifth and Sixth avenues within downtown comprise the Portland Transit Mall, two streets devoted primarily to bus and light rail traffic with limited automobile access. Intense public transit development continues as two light rail lines are under construction, as well as a new downtown transit mall linking several transit options. TriMet also provides real-time tracking of buses and trains with its TransitTracker and even makes the data available to developers so they can create customized tools of their own.[72]

I-5 connects Portland with the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, and California to the south and with Washington to the north. I-405 forms a loop with I-5 around the central downtown area of the city and I-205 is a loop freeway route on the east side which connects to the Portland International Airport. US 26 supports commuting within the metro area and continues to the Pacific Ocean westward and Mount Hood and Central Oregon eastward. US 30 has a main, bypass, and business route through the city extending to Astoria, Oregon to the west; through Gresham, Oregon, and the eastern exurbs, and connects to I-84, traveling towards Boise, Idaho.

Portland's main airport is Portland International Airport, located about 20 minutes by car (40 minutes by MAX) northeast of downtown. In addition Portland is home to Oregon's only public use heliport, the Portland Downtown Heliport. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Portland at Union Station on three routes. Long-haul train routes include the Coast Starlight (with service from Los Angeles to Seattle) and the Empire Builder (with service from Portland to Chicago.) The Amtrak Cascades commuter trains operate between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, and serve Portland several times daily.

The city is particularly supportive of urban bicycling and has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists among others for its network of paths and other bicycle-friendly services.[73] It ranks highly among the most bicycle friendly cities in the world.[74] The Bicycle Transportation Alliance sponsors an annual Bicycle Commute Challenge, in which thousands of commuters compete for prizes and recognition based on the length and frequency of their commutes.[75] Approximately 8% of commuters bike to work, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average.[76] Car sharing through Zipcar and U Car Share is available to residents of the city and some inner suburbs. Portland has a commuter aerial cableway, the Portland Aerial Tram, which connects the South Waterfront district on the Willamette River to the Oregon Health & Science University campus on Marquam Hill above.

Portland has five indoor skateparks and is home to historically significant Burnside Skatepark. Gabriel Skatepark is the most recent, which opened on July 12, 2008. Another fourteen are in the works.[77] The Wall Street Journal stated Portland "may be the most skateboard-friendly town in America."[78]

Law and government

The city of Portland is governed by the Portland City Council, which includes the Mayor and four Commissioners—and an auditor. Each is elected citywide to serve a four year term. The auditor provides checks and balances in the commission form of government and accountability for the use of public resources. In addition, the auditor provides access to information and reports on various matters of city government.

The city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement serves as a conduit between city government and 95 neighborhood associations, which are grouped into seven coalitions.

Portland and its surrounding metropolitan area are served by Metro, the United States' only directly elected regional government. Metro's charter includes land use and transportation planning, solid waste management, and map development. It also owns and operates the Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Zoo, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, and Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center. The Multnomah County government also provides many services to the Portland area, along with that of Washington and Clackamas Counties to the west and south.

Since the 1950s, if not earlier, Portland has strongly favored the Democratic Party at all levels of government.[citation needed] Although local elections are nonpartisan, most of the city's elected officials are Democrats. Democrats also dominate the city's delegation to the Oregon Legislature.

Federally, Portland is split between three congressional districts. Most of the city is in the 3rd District, represented by Earl Blumenauer, who served on the city council from 1986 until his election to Congress in 1996. Most of the city west of the Willamette River is part of the 1st District, represented by David Wu. A small portion of the city is in the 5th District, represented by Kurt Schrader. All three are Democrats; a Republican has not represented a significant portion of Portland since 1975. Both of Oregon's senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are from Portland. Portland's current Mayor, Sam Adams, became the city's first openly-gay mayor in 2009.[79] At that time, Portland became the largest U.S. city with a GLBT mayor. In 2004, Multnomah County voted 59.7% against Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman and prohibit same-sex marriage, though the measure passed with 56.6% of the statewide vote. Benton County, which contains Corvallis, home of Oregon State University, was the only other county where the initiative failed.[80]

Planning and development

Aerial view of central Portland
1966 photo shows sawdust-fired power plant on the edge of Downtown that was removed to make way for dense residential development. High rises to left in background were early projects of the Portland Development Commission.

The city consulted with urban planners as far back as 1903. Development of Washington Park and one of the country's finest greenways, the 40 Mile Loop, which interconnects many of the city's parks, began.

Portland is often cited as an example of a city with strong land use planning controls;[9] This is largely the result of statewide land conservation policies adopted in 1973 under Governor Tom McCall, in particular the requirement for an urban growth boundary (UGB) for every city and metropolitan area. The opposite extreme, a city with few or no controls, is typically illustrated by Houston, Texas.[81][82][83][84][85]

Portland's urban growth boundary, adopted in 1979, separates urban areas (where high-density development is encouraged and focused) from traditional farm land (where restrictions on non-agricultural development are very strict).[86] This was atypical in an era when automobile use led many areas to neglect their core cities in favor of development along interstate highways, in suburbs, and satellite cities.

As the population has grown, and undeveloped land inside the urban growth boundary has dwindled, there has been pressure to change or relax the rules.[citation needed] The rapid growth of two major employers in Washington County, namely Nike and Intel, contributed to this pressure.[citation needed]

The original state rules included a provision for expanding urban growth boundaries, but critics felt this wasn't being accomplished. In 1995, the State passed a law requiring cities to expand UGBs to provide enough undeveloped land for a 20 year supply of future housing at projected growth levels.[87]

The Portland Development Commission is a semi-public agency that plays a major role in downtown development; it was created by city voters in 1958 to serve as the city's urban renewal agency. It provides housing and economic development programs within the city, and works behind the scenes with major local developers to create large projects.

In the early 1960s, the PDC led the razing of a large Italian-Jewish neighborhood downtown, bounded roughly by the I-405 freeway, the Willamette River, 4th Avenue and Market street.

Mayor Neil Goldschmidt took office in the 1970s as a proponent of bringing housing and the associated vitality back to the downtown area, which was seen as emptying out after 5pm. The effort has had dramatic effects in the 30 years since, with many thousands of new housing units clustered in 3 areas: north of Portland State University (between the I-405 freeway, SW Broadway, and SW Taylor St.); the RiverPlace development along the waterfront under the Marquam (I-5) bridge; and most notably in the Pearl District (between I-405, Burnside St., NW Northrup St., and NW 9th Ave.).

The Urban Greenspaces Institute, housed in Portland State University Geography Department's Center for Mapping Research, promotes better integration of the built and natural environments. The institute works on urban park, trail, and natural areas planning issues, both at the local and regional levels.

According to Grist magazine, Portland is the second most eco-friendly or "green" city in the world trailing only Reykjavík, Iceland.[88]

Free speech

Because of strong free speech protections of the Oregon Constitution upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court Henry v. Oregon Constitution 1987 which specifically found that full nudity and lap dances in strip clubs are protected speech,[89] Portland is widely considered to have more strip clubs per capita than Las Vegas or San Francisco.[90][91][92]

A judge dismissed charges against a nude bicyclist November 2008 on the grounds that the city's annual World Naked Bike Ride "was a well-established tradition in Portland."[93] The 2009 Naked Bike Ride occurred[94] without significant incident. City police managed traffic intersections.[95] There were an estimated 3000 to 5000 participants.[96][97]

A state law prohibiting publicly insulting a person likely to provoke a violent response was tested in Portland and struck down unanimously by the State Supreme Court as violating protected free speech and being overly broad.[98]


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1850 821
1860 2,874 250.1%
1870 8,293 188.6%
1880 17,577 111.9%
1890 46,385 163.9%
1900 90,426 94.9%
1910 207,214 129.2%
1920 258,288 24.6%
1930 301,815 16.9%
1940 305,394 1.2%
1950 373,628 22.3%
1960 372,676 −0.3%
1970 382,619 2.7%
1980 366,383 −4.2%
1990 437,319 19.4%
2000 529,121 21.0%
Est. 2008 557,706 5.4%

As of 2000, there are an estimated 529,121 people residing in the city, organized into 223,737 households and 118,356 families. The population density is 4,228.38 people per square mile (1,655.31/km²). There are 237,307 housing units at an average density of 1,766.7/sq mi (682.1/km²).

2005-7 American Community Survey Estimates[100] (NH) (DC)
425,535 78.6% White 74.1% 81.9%
36,495 6.7% Asian 6.7% 7.9%
35,853 6.6% Black or African American 6.5% 7.9%
6,999 1.3% American Indian, Alaska Native 0.6% 2.8%
2,521 0.5% Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander 0.5% 0.6%
14,438 2.7% Some other race 0.2% 2.9%
19,709 3.6% Two or more races 3.0% 104%
541,550 100% Total of all races 91.5%
46,296 8.5% Total Hispanic/Latino (of any race)
(NH) Total non-Hispanics by race
(DC) Total, double/triple counting 'Two or more races'

Compared to the Oregon state average, Portland's median house value is above state average, and its black, Hispanic, and foreign-born populations are significantly above state average.[citation needed]

Out of 223,737 households, 24.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% are married couples living together, 10.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.1% are non-families. 34.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.3 and the average family size is 3.

The age distribution was 21.1% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 34.7% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $40,146, and the median income for a family is $50,271. Males have a reported median income of $35,279 versus $29,344 reported for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,643. 13.1% of the population and 8.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.7% of those under the age of 18 and 10.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. Figures delineating the income levels based on race are not available at this time.

However, though the population of the city is increasing, the total population of children is diminishing, which has put pressure on the public school system to close schools. A 2005 study found that Portland is now educating fewer children than it did in 1925, despite the city's population having almost doubled since then, and the city will have to close the equivalent of three to four elementary schools each year for the next decade.[101]

In 1940, Portland's African-American population was approximately 2,000 and largely consisted of railroad employees and their families.[102] During the war-time liberty ship construction boom, the need for workers drew many blacks to the city. The new influx of blacks settled in specific neighborhoods, such as the Albina district and Vanport. The May 1948 flood which destroyed Vanport eliminated the only integrated neighborhood, and an influx of blacks into the NE quadrant of the city continued.[102] At 7.90%, Portland's African American population is nearly four times the state average. Over two thirds of Oregon's African-American residents live in Portland.[102] As of the 2000 census, three of its high schools (Cleveland, Lincoln and Wilson) were over 70% white, reflecting the overall population, while Jefferson High School was 76% non-white. The remaining six schools have a higher number of non-whites, including Blacks and Asians. Hispanic students average from 3.3% at Wilson to 14.9% at Roosevelt.[103]


Portland is served by six public school districts and many private schools. Portland Public Schools is the largest school district. There are also many colleges and universities- the largest being Portland Community College, Portland State University, and Oregon Health & Science University.

Sister cities

Portland has nine sister cities:[104]

Portland also has a "Friendship City" relationship with:


See also


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  101. ^ Egan, Timothy (March 24, 2005). "Vibrant Cities Find One Thing Missing: Children". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/24/national/24childless.html?ei=5090&en=cbfa254535a51a5f&ex=1269320400&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=all&position=. 
  102. ^ a b c MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979) [1979]. The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915-1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5. 
  103. ^ "Abernethy Elementary School: Recent Enrollment Trends, 1995-96 through 2002-03" (PDF). Portland Public Schools, Prepared by Management Information Services. October 30, 2002. http://www.pps.k12.or.us/depts/mis/enroll/current/EnrollxSchl95-03.pdf. 
  104. ^ "About Portland's Sister Cities". Office of Mayor Sam Adams. http://portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=49918. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  105. ^ About the Sister City Program

Further reading

  • C. Abbott, Greater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8122-1779-9
  • C. Ozawa (Ed.), The Portland Edge: Challenges and Successes in Growing Communities. Washington: Island Press, 2004. ISBN 1-55963-695-5
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon. Crown, 2003. ISBN 1-4000-4783-8
  • Stewart Holbrook, The Far Corner. Comstock Editions, 1952. ISBN 0-89174-043-0
  • E. Kimbark MacColl, The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1885 to 1915. Portland: Georgian Press, 1976. OCLC 2645815 ASIN B0006CP2A0
  • E. Kimbark MacColl, The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915 to 1950. Portland: Georgian Press, 1979. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5
  • Jewel Lansing, Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 1851–2001. Oregon State University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0870715594
  • MacGibbon, Elma (1904). Leaves of knowledge. Shaw & Borden Co.  Elma MacGibbons reminiscences of her travels in the United States starting in 1898, which were mainly in Oregon and Washington. Includes chapter "Portland, the western hub."
  • O'Toole, Randal. Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn't Work. Policy Analysis. No. 596. Cato Institute, July 9, 2007.

External links

Portland websites that are also wikis

Related information

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PORTLAND, a city, port of entry and the' county-seat of Multnomah county, Oregon, U.S.A., on the Willamette river, near its confluence with the Columbia, about 120 m. by water from the Pacific, 186 m. by rail S.S.W. of Seattle and about I I 77 2 m. N. of San Francisco. Pop. (1890), 46,385; (1900), 90,426, of whom 25,876 were foreign-born (6943 Chinese); (1910 census) 207,214. Portland is served by the Northern Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Canadian Pacific, the Great Northern and other railways, by transpacific vessels to HongKong and Yokohama, by coast-wise vessels to San Francisco, to ports on Puget Sound, in British Columbia, and in Alaska, and by river boats sailing loo m. farther up the Willamette and up the Columbia and the Clearwater to Lewiston, Idaho. The city is built on both sides of the river (which is crossed by five bridges), and covers about 44 sq. m. On the western side the ground rises gradually for a distance of 4 to i 2 m., and then rises abruptly 500-1000 ft. to "Portland Heights" and "Council Crest," beyond the much-broken surface of which rises the Coast range; on the eastern side a slightly rolling surface extends to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. From "Portland Heights" there are fine views of the Columbia and Willamette valleys, and, particularly, of the snow-clad summits of Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Mt St Helen's, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier (or Tacoma). In the residence districts (King's Hill, Nob Hill, Portland Heights, Willamette Heights, Hawthorne Avenue, &c.) are pleasantly shaded streets, and grounds decorated with shrubs, especially roses, which sometimes bloom as late as January - an annual "Rose Festival" is held here in June. The city has 205 acres in parks and numerous beautiful drives. It has a fine climate, the mean temperature during the winter months from 1874 to 1903 was 41° F.; the mean summer temperature for the same period 65° F. For the year ending the 31st of May 1900 the death-rate was reported to be only 9 per 1000, and in 1907 to be only 8.28 per 1000. The city's water is brought through a pipe 30 m. in length from Bull Run river, which is fed by Bull Run Lake at an elevation of more than 3000 ft. in the Cascade Mountains.

Among the prominent buildings are the Court House; the City Hall, containing the rooms of the Oregon Historical Society; the Customs House; the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral; the Public Library (with 75,000 volumes in 1908); several tall office buildings with frames of steel; and the Art Museum (1905). There are large grain elevators and miles of wharfs and docks. Among educational institutions are the law and medical departments of the University of Oregon, Hill Military Academy (1901) and Columbia University (Roman Catholic, 1901). The Oregonian, which was established here in 1850, is one of the most influential newspapers on the Pacific Slope.

The harbour is accessible for vessels of 26 ft. draught and the city's leading industry is the shipment by water and by rail of fish (especially salmon) and of the products (largely lumber, wheat and fruits) of the rich Willamette and Columbia valleys. It is also an important jobbing centre. The value of the exports in 1908 amounted to $16,652,850 and the value of the imports to $2,937,513; the foreign trade is chiefly with Great Britain and its possessions, and with the Orient, where wheat and flour are exchanged for raw silk, tea and manila and other fibres. Portland is the principal manufacturing city of the state. The total value of its factory product in 1905 was $28,651,321. The principal manufactures were lumber and timber products ($3,577,465) and flour and grist mill products ($2,712,735); other important manufactures were packed meat, planing-mill products, foundry and machine-shop products, railway cars (repaired), cordage and twine, and canned and preserved fish (salmon), oysters and fruits and vegetables.

Portland, named after Portland, Maine, was founded in 1845 by two real-estate men from New England, and was chartered as a city in 1851. Its early growth was promoted by the demand for provisions from California soon after the discovery of gold there, and although a considerable portion was swept by fire in 1873 the city had a population of nearly 20,000 before railway communication with the East was established by the Northern Pacific in 1883. East Portland and Albina were annexed to the city in July 1891. The Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair was held in Portland in 1905 in commemoration of the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to this region in 1805. The forestry building, 205 ft. long by 108 ft. wide and built of logs of Oregon fir 6 ft. or more in diameter and 54 ft. long, and a building devoted entirely to the subject of irrigation, were of unusual interest. The forestry building is now maintained as a museum chiefly for timber and timber products.

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Simple English

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon. About 538,544 people live in the city of Portland, and about 1,927,881 people live in the city's metropolitan area. It is found in the north part of the state, where the Willamette River meets the Columbia River. Portland has the second most people of any city in the Northwest United States, after the city of Seattle.

Portland has many nicknames. One of these is "The City of Roses," because roses grow well there. Some other nicknames of Portland are "Stumptown" (from the fact that Portland was built over a forest), "Puddletown" (from the fact that it often rains in Portland), and "Bridgetown" (from the fact that there are many bridges that cross the Willamette River in Portland).

Many things are from Portland. Some of these things are Powell's Books, Beverly Cleary (and some of her most popular fictional characters, Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, which also have statues in the city's Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children), and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team.

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