Portland Oregon

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Portland, Oregon
File:PortlandOR flag.jpg File:PortlandOR seal.gif
City flag City Seal
City nicknames: "City of Roses", "Stumptown," "Bridgetown"
Location in Multnomah County and the state of Oregon
County Multnomah County, Oregon
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

376.5 km² (145.4 mi²)
347.9 km² (134.3 mi²)
28.6 km² (11.1 mi²) 7.6%
 - Total (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

Time zone Pacific: UTC–8
Location Template:Coor dms
Mayor Tom Potter
City website

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon, and county seat of Multnomah County. It is located within the Pacific Northwest, straddling the Willamette River south of its confluence with the Columbia River.

Most of Portland lies in Multnomah County, though scattered adjacent parcels fall within Washington and Clackamas counties. As of the 2000 census, Portland had a total population of 529,121. The 2003 estimate of the city's population is 538,544, a growth of 1.7%.

Portland is known as "The City of Roses" or "Rose City", nicknames originated during the 1905 Lewis and Clark centennial exposition. Its climate is ideal for growing roses, and the city has many rose gardens. Other nicknames for the city of Portland include "Stumptown", "Bridgetown" (due to its numerous bridges), "Puddletown" (due to the weather), and "River City" (due to its proximity to the Willamette and Columbia Rivers). Modern colloquialisms for the city include "PDX" (after the city's airport code), "P-town", and "Rip City."


File:Portland 1890.jpg
Portland in 1890

Portland started as a spot known as "The Clearing", which was on the banks of the Willamette River about halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. In 1843, William Overton saw great commercial potential for this land; his only problem was that he lacked the quarter needed to file a land claim. So, he struck a bargain with his partner Asa Lovejoy: for 25¢, Overton would share his claim to the 640-acre (2.6 km²) site.

Bored with clearing trees and building roads, Overton sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove. When it came time to name their new town, Pettygrove and Lovejoy each wanted to name it after his home town. They settled the argument with a coin toss. Pettygrove won, and named it after Portland, Maine; had Lovejoy won, he intended to name it after Boston, Massachusetts.

In its early years, Portland existed in the shadow of Oregon City, the territorial capital 12 miles (19 km) upstream on the falls of the Willamette. However, Portland was located at the Willamette's head of navigation, giving it a key advantage over its older peer. It also triumphed over early rivals like Milwaukie and Sellwood. By 1850 Portland had approximately 800 inhabitants, a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, called the Weekly Oregonian.

Portland was the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s when direct railroad access between the deepwater harbor in Seattle and points east by way of Stampede Pass were built. Goods could then be transported from the northwest coast to inland cities without needing to navigate the dangerous bar at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Like other west coast ports, Portland was home to frequent acts of shanghaiing. Tunnels under city blocks stretching for blocks from the Willamette River, although built for legitimate business reasons, became known as shanghai tunnels because of their purported use in such kidnappings. Tours of them are now given.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 376.5 km² (145.4 mi²). 347.9 km² (134.3 mi²) of it is land and 28.6 km² (11.1 mi²), or 7.6%, is water.

The Portland metropolitan area is located within the Willamette Valley, which follows the Willamette River and the I-5 Corridor. The valley consists of suburban municipalities sprawled around patches of farmland farther south. The further north you travel, towards Portland, the thicker the population density becomes. The vast majority of Oregon's population lives in the Willamette Valley. Interstate 5 bisects the valley and a significant number of commuters travel the I-5 Corridor daily.

Portland lies on top of an extinct Plio-Pleistocene volcanic field. The Boring Lava Field includes at least 32 cinder cones and small shield volcanoes lying within a radius of 13 miles of Kelly Butte, which is approximately 4 miles east of downtown Portland.


Portland's climate is temperate and seasonal. The average rainfall is approximately 35 inches per year. The summer months (June through August) mark the driest period averaging about 1 inch per month, while November through January is the rainy season, with an average about 6 inches per month. Winter low temperatures hover around 35 °F (2 °C), and summer highs rarely surpass 85 °F (29 °C). The lowest temperature ever recorded in Portland was −3 °F (−19 °C), set on February 2 1950.

The city and the region

Aerial view of central Portland

Portland is often cited as an example of a well-planned city. The credit for this starts with Oregon's proactive land-use policies, particularly the establishment of an urban growth boundary in 1974. The boundary preserved agricultural land in the mold of 19th-century farming techniques. 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.

Some developers and real estate investors dislike the urban growth boundary, and argue that it has brought not only benefits but the burden of high housing costs. Still, housing costs are lower than most urban areas in California and Washington, and residents enjoy many benefits of a more compact urban area, including efficient public transportation and less traffic than similarly sized cities. The Portland Development Commission also plays a role in keeping the city livable; 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.

The more densely populated parts of the city proper are somewhat asymmetrical, with the west side hemmed in by the West Hills, while the flatter east side stretches on for about 170 blocks, until it meets Gresham. They extend from the beginning of East Portland, at the Willamette River, to the outer fringes of the suburbs of Gresham. Further east lies rural Multnomah County.

Downtown Portland and many other parts of inner Portland have compact city blocks and narrow streets. Each block is 200 ft (60 m) square; by comparison, Seattle's city blocks are 240 by 320 feet (70 by 100 m), and Manhattan's east-west streets are divided into blocks that are from 600 to 800 feet (180 to 240 m) long. In addition, most streets are 64 feet (20 m) wide, so the combination of compact blocks and narrow streets make the downtown more pedestrian friendly. The 264 foot (80 m) long combined blocks divide one mile (1.6 km) of road into exactly 20 separate blocks.

See also: Portland metropolitan area

Portland's five "quadrants" (sic)

The sections of Portland.

As a result of a "great renumbering" on September 2, 1931, Portland is divided into five sections: Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, North and Northeast. Burnside Street is the boundary between north and south, and the Willamette River divides the eastern and western sections. North of Burnside Street, the river curves west and in place of it Williams Avenue is used as a divider. Between Williams and the river is the fifth, North, quadrant.

Portland also has an unnamed "sixth" quadrant, between the "edge" of Southwest and the river, which has an east bend south of downtown. Instead of having its own name, "negative" numbers preceded by a zero are used, increasing until the river is reached.


File:Portland downtown.jpg
Downtown view from the Northwest, with Union Station's clock tower visible on the right.

Northwest includes the Pearl District, a fairly recent name for what originally was an old warehouse area. Since the late 1980s, many of the existing warehouses, some on brownfield sites, have been converted into lofts, and new multistory condominiums have also been developed. The increasing density has attracted a mix of restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and art galleries, though in some cases pioneering tenants have been priced out of the area (see Gentrification). Its galleries sponsor artists' receptions on the first Thursday of every month, spawning similar events on other days elsewhere.

Between the Pearl District and the Willamette is Portland's old Chinatown neighborhood. Its entrance is marked by a pair of lions at the corner of NW 4th and Burnside, and includes the district along the Willamette River between Burnside and Union Station. Before World War II, this area also had a Japan Town.

Further west is the tiny NW 21st and 23rd Avenue neighborhood and shopping area. When Portland natives say Northwest, they often mean this area, which is also called Uptown, Nob Hill and the Alphabet District. This area has a mix of Victorian-era houses, apartment buildings from throughout the 20th century, and various businesses centered around Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. The Portland Streetcar connects this area to downtown. Characters from The Simpsons are named from the alphabetical streets in this area—namely Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy and Mayor Quimby

Even further northwest lies part of what is known as Portland's West Hills, including the majority of massive Forest Park.


Part of the West Hills is in the Southwest quadrant, which includes Washington Park, site of North America's deepest transit station, the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, beautiful hiking trails, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The West Hills underwent rapid expansion during the 1960s and 1970s.

Southwest also includes:

North Portland

North Portland, known as NoPo to some, includes the neighborhoods of St. Johns, Cathedral Park, University Park (and the University of Portland), Overlook, Portsmouth, Kenton, Arbor Lodge, Bridgeton, Hayden Island, Piedmont, Humboldt, Eliot, and Boise.

During World War II, a planned development named Vanport was constructed to the north of this section between the city limits and the Columbia River. It grew to be the second largest city in Oregon, but was wiped out by a disastrous flood in 1948. Columbia Villa, another wartime housing project in the Portsmouth Neighborhood, is being rebuilt; the new $150 million community will be known as New Columbia and will offer public housing, rental housing, and single family home ownership units. In 2004, a new light rail line opened along Interstate Avenue, which parallels I-5.


Northeast contains a diverse collection of neighborhoods. For example, while Irvington and the Alameda Ridge boast some of the oldest and most expensive homes in Portland, nearby Albina is a more working-class neighborhood. Because it is so large, Northeast Portland can essentially be divided ethnically, culturally, and geographically into inner and outer sections. The inner Northeast neighborhoods that surround Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. are predominately African American, resembling typical urban inner-city environments found in most major U.S. cities. Inner Northeast includes several shopping areas, such as the Lloyd District and Hollywood, and part of the affluent Laurelhurst neighborhood and its nearby developments. The city plan targets Lloyd District as another mixed-use area, with high-rise residential development; developers are waiting for the success of a seed project before intensive development occurs.

At the base of Northeast is the Rose Quarter. It is named after the Rose Garden Arena, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, and also includes the Blazers' former home, the Memorial Coliseum. The coliseum is the home to Portland's hockey team, the Winterhawks, though they often play at the Rose Garden. The newest Rose Quarter tenants are the Lumberjax, a professional lacrosse team starting play in the winter of 2006. The city still holds the lease to the land, but the buildings were owned by private business interests until they went into receivership. The area is quite active during the teams' home games, and the city hopes to extend the activity by promoting a major increase in residential units in the quarter using zoning and tax incentives.


Southeast stretches from the warehouses by the river, through the historic Ladd's Addition, to Hawthorne and Belmont districts. Southeast Portland residents include a wide mix of backgrounds, mostly alternative subcultures such as hippies, pagans, and environmentalists. The Hawthorne district is known for its beyond-the-norm hipster crowd and funky shops. Farther south, the Brooklyn, Sellwood, Woodstock, and Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods and Eastmoreland near Reed College are close to the Willamette River. The Clackamas Town Center and Mall 205 are the largest retail centers serving the area.

Between the 1920s and the 1960s, Southeast was home to Lambert Gardens. Southeast Portland also features Mt. Tabor, a park with one of the only dormant volcanos in a continental U.S. city.

People and culture


As of the census of 2000, there are 529,121 people residing in the city, organized into 223,737 households and 118,356 families. The population density is 1,521/km² (3,939.2/mi²). There are 237,307 housing units at an average density of 682.1/km² (1,766.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 77.91% White, 6.64% African American, 1.06% Native American, 6.33% Asian, 0.38% Pacific Islander, 3.55% from other races, and 4.15% from two or more races. 6.81% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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.

In the city the population is spread out with 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. Oregon has a 9% income tax which tends to suppress accurate reporting. Figures delineating the income levels based on race are not available at this time.

Portland is becoming increasingly diverse. Recent trends have more young people moving into the city as older, more established white families with children move to the suburbs. Although the overwhelming majority of the city's population is still White, 60% of people moving to Oregon are minorities.

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 recent New York Times story noted that Portland is now educating fewer children than it did in 1925, and the city will have to close the equivalent of three to four elementary schools each year for the next decade.

Portland's public school system has remained rather segregated. Three of its high schools (Cleveland, Lincoln and Wilson) are over 80% white, while three other high schools (Jefferson, Marshall and Roosevelt) are over 70% non-white. The remaining four schools are more ethnically balanced.


The Oregonian is the major daily newspaper in Portland. The Willamette Week is a major alternative weekly publication distributed throughout the metro area. Other local weekly papers in the area include the Portland Tribune (a twice-weekly), The Portland Mercury, and the Oregon Herald. Portland Monthly is a monthly news and news and culture magazine. The Business Journal of Portland also covers many business-news-related stories. BarFly Magazine [1] is a popular weekly periodical covering the city's nightlife and bar scene.

Portland is well served by television and radio. The metro area is the 23rd largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the U.S., consisting of 1,086,900 homes and 0.992% of the U.S. market. The major network television affiliates include KOIN 6 (CBS), KATU 2 (ABC), KGW 8 (NBC), KPTV 12 (FOX), KWBP 32 (WB), and KPDX 49 (UPN).


Parks and outdoor attractions

File:Portland rose.jpg
The rose has played a significant role in Portland's history and is the focus of the one of the city's nicknames.

Portland is proud of its parks and its legacy of preserving open spaces. In fact, it has one of the highest parks-per-capita ratios among cities in the United States.

Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, with over 5,000 acres (20 km²). Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park (being a two-foot-diameter circle, its area is only about 0.3 square meters). Washington Park [2] is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden.

Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre (150,000 m²) park was built in 1974 after Harbor Drive was removed and now plays host to large events throughout the year. Portland's downtown also features two groups of contiguous city blocks dedicated for park space; they are referred to as the North and South Park Blocks.

Portland is also home to Portland Classical Chinese Garden, an authentic representation of a Suzhou-style walled garden. Local construction workers provided the site preparation and foundation, and dozens of workers from Suzhou, using material from China, constructed its walls and other structures, including a tea house.

The only state park in the area is Tryon Creek State Park; its creek still has a run of steelhead. Nestled within the park is the Tryon Life Community Farm [3], an aspiring urban ecovillage and educational center.

Portlandia, a statue on the west side of the Portland Building, is the second-largest hammered-copper statue in the U.S.


Portland and certain other Oregon cities (like Hood River and Bend) are well-known for their good beer. It is often said that Portland is the home of the microbrew revolution. 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 microbreweries and brewpubs began to pop up all over the city. Their growth was supported by the abundance of local ingredients, including two-row barley, over a dozen varieties of hops, and the pure water from Bull Run and other watersheds of nearby Mount Hood.

Today, the city has more craft brewers than any other city in North America. The McMenamin brothers alone have over thirty brewpubs scattered throughout the metropolitan area, many in renovated theaters and other old buildings otherwise destined for demolition. Other notable Portland brewers include Widmer Brothers, Bridgeport Brewing Company and the Pyramid Brewing Company. In 1999, "beerhunter" and author Michael Jackson called Portland a candidate for the beer capital of the world because the city boasted more breweries than Cologne, Germany.

Portland hosts a number of festivals throughout the year in celebration of beer. One of them, the Oregon Brewers Festival, is the largest gathering of independent craft brewers in North America.


Portland has one major league, professional sports team, as well as several minor league teams. The Portland Trail Blazers are a basketball team that play in Rose Garden Arena. The Trail Blazers won their only NBA Championship in 1977. The team has several players in the Basketball Hall of Fame, including Dražen Petrović, Bill Walton, Lenny Wilkens, and Clyde Drexler ("The Glide").

The city is also home to the Portland Beavers, a Triple-AAA team for the San Diego Padres; the Portland Winterhawks, an ice hockey team in the Western Hockey League; and the Portland Timbers, of the United Soccer Leagues, a second-tier professional soccer team in the U.S. The Portland Beavers and Portland Timbers play in PGE Park (formerly Civic Stadium), and the Winterhawks play in Rose Garden Arena. The Portland Lumberjax is also a professional lacrosse team, scheduled to begin play in 2006 in the National Lacrosse League. Portland is also an annual circuit on the Champ Car World Series.

Skiing is particularly popular with Portlanders. The area is served by a number of resorts located on nearby Mount Hood, including Timberline, which allows skiing year round. The only other resort in North America with summer skiing is Whistler in British Columbia.

Local Alpenrose Dairy is host to the yearly Little League Softball World Series.



The city of Portland is governed by a mayor, four city commissioners and an auditor, who are each elected citywide to serve four-year terms. The city council consists of the mayor (Tom Potter as of 2005) and commissioners. The auditor does not have a vote on the city council or direct city operations, but provides checks and balances in the commission form of government and accountability for the use of public resources. In addition, the auditor gives access to information for all Council members and the public and issues reports on various matters of city government.

Portland and its surrounding metropolitan area are also served the Metropolitan Service District, the nation's 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 Performing Arts, and Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center.


The public schools in the city are governed by the Portland Public School District, which consists of about 100 public schools with grades K through 12, as well as 50 special needs sites. The number of students in the school district is approximately 53,000. Portland's Lincoln High School is notable as it is the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi River, built in 1869. The school also boasts several famous alumni, including Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and astronaut S. David Griggs. Another notable school is Benson Polytechnic High founded by Simon Benson. It claims to be "The Nation's Finest Professional/Technical School".

Outlying areas of Portland retained their own school districts after those regions were annexed by the City of Portland. Parkrose School District covers most of northeastern Portland beyond the I-205. Centennial and David Douglas districts serve far southeast neighborhoods, including Rockwood and Powellhurst. Parts of Portland neighborhoods in the West Hills belong to the Beaverton School District. Riverdale School District also serves the metropolitan area.

The region also has several private schools, including Catlin Gabel School, Central Catholic High School [4], Jesuit High School, The Northwest Academy, Oregon Episcopal School, and St. Mary's Academy [5].

There are also several colleges and universities in the area. One of the major public institutions in the city is Portland State University, with an enrollment of approximately 24,000 (graduate & undergraduate). Private colleges include the University of Portland, Pacific University, Concordia University, Marylhurst University, Lewis & Clark College, George Fox University, Linfield College, Reed College, Cascade College, Capstone College, and Warner Pacific College.

Oregon Health & Science University is the major medical school in the area. Other schools concentrating on various areas of the medical sciences include the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, and Western States Chiropractic College. Art schools in Portland include the Art Institute of Portland and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

The Concorde Career Institute and Multnomah Bible College are also located in the city, as well as the Oregon National Primate Research Center, a major research center involving the study of primates.

Portland has two community college districts. The Portland Community College district has three campuses in the city—Cascade, Rock Creek, and Sylvania—as well as the Southeast Center and Metropolitan Workforce Training Center. The Mount Hood Community College district is east of I-205 in Gresham. Clark College is also located in the area.


File:1portland max 029-med.jpg
Portlanders waiting for MAX downtown.

Template:Main article The Portland metropolitan area has the typical 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.

In fact, Portland is well-known for its comprehensive public transportation system. TriMet operates most of the region's buses and the Metropolitan Area Express, or MAX, light rail system, which connects the city and suburbs. 5th and 6th avenues are the Portland Transit Mall, an exclusive bus-only right of way running north/south through downtown.

For the most part, Portland's streets are arranged in a traditional grid-like pattern, with a few diagonal streets connecting various sections of the city and suburbs, and numerous bridges across the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

I-5 connects Portland to Sacramento, California, in the south and Seattle, Washington, in the north. I-405 forms a loop with I-5 around the central downtown area of the city and I-205 is a beltway on the east side which connects to the airport. US 26 supports commuting within the metro area and continues to the Pacific Ocean westward and Mount Hood and beyond eastward. US 30 travels to the east of the city, through Gresham, Oregon, and eastern suburbs, and connects to I-84, traveling towards Boise, Idaho.

Portland's main airport is Portland International Airport, located twenty minutes by car or light rail northeast of downtown.

Portlanders have other transportation alternatives. The Portland Streetcar operates from the southern waterfront, through Portland State University north to nearby homes and shopping districts. 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. Car sharing through Flexcar is also available to residents of downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Commuter rail planning is being finalized, and an aerial tram is currently under construction.

Sister cities

Portland has ten sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International [6]: Ashkelon (Israel), Bologna (Italy), Kaohsiung (Taiwan), Khabarovsk (Russia), Mutare (Zimbabwe), Sapporo (Japan), Suzhou (China), Ulsan (South Korea), Guadalajara (Mexico), and Corinto (Nicaragua).

See also


  • Stewart Holbrook, The Far Corner. Comstock Editions ISBN 0-89174-043-0 (1952).
  • E. Kimbark MacColl, The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1885 to 1915. Portland: Georgian Press, 1976.
  • E. Kimbark MacColl, The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915 to 1950. Portland: Georgian Press, 1979. ISBN 0960340815

External links

Portland Wiki Sites



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