This way to Portland

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, a few dozen miles from the west coast of the United States. It is situated just south of where the Willamette River flows into the Columbia River. In July 2002, the city's population was estimated to be 538,180, a growth of 1.7% over the April 2000 census figure of 529,121.

Portland is in Multnomah County. The metropolitan area, consisting of five counties in Oregon (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, and Yamhill) and Clark County in Washington had a population of 1,979,650 as of July 2002. This is 3.3% more than the 2000 census figure for the area. The area includes the neighboring cities of Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, and Tigard (all in Oregon), as well as Vancouver (in Washington).

Portland has a well-deserved reputation for its vibrant and livable downtown. Many credit this to Oregon's proactive land use policies, which introduced an urban growth boundary in 1974. The boundary preserved agricultural land and reduced sprawl. 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.

Also unlike many other U.S. cities, it spreads its share of federal tax dollars into multiple modes of transportation, not just highways.

Portland, Feb 2003

Table of contents
1 City nicknames
2 History
3 Geography
4 Transportation
5 Parks
6 Beer
7 Professional sports
8 Tourist attractions
9 Colleges and universities
10 Notable Portlanders
11 Demographics
12 Portland in film
13 Sister cities
14 See also
15 External links

City nicknames

The city is nicknamed The City of Roses; it has an annual Rose Festival each spring, an International Rose Test Garden, and a downtown arena called the Rose Garden.

Other nicknames include:

  • City of Bridges, or Bridgetown, due to its numerous bridges;
  • PDX, from the airport code of its airport;
  • Puddletown, because of its weather;
  • Rip City, a nickname stemming from a chance remark from a long-time announcer for the Trail Blazers;
  • River City, because of its location;
  • Little Beirut, for the hostile demonstrations in response to the visits of presidents George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush;
  • Deportland, from the alleged rough treatment of passengers at the Federal Inspection Service facility back when Delta Air Lines operated flights to Asia from PDX.

One of Portland's oldest nicknames, Stumptown, comes from an early period of phenomenal growth. In the years after 1847, the city grew so rapidly that the stumps of trees cut down to make way for roads were left until manpower could be spared to remove them. In some areas, the stumps remained for so long that locals painted them white to make them more visible, and used them to cross the street without sinking into the mud.


Portland began in 1843, when William Overton and Asa Lovejoy beached their canoe on the banks of the Willamette River. Overcome by the beauty of the area, Overton saw great potential for this mountain-ringed, timber-rich land. His only problem was that he lacked the quarter needed to file a land claim. So, he struck a bargain with Lovejoy: for 25¢, Overton would share his claim to the 640-acre site known as "The Clearing."

Bored with clearing trees and building roads, Overton sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove. Pettygrove and Lovejoy disagreed over what to call their new town, each wanting to name it after his home town; they settled the argument with a coin toss. Pettygrove won, and named the new town after his hometown in Maine; had Lovejoy won, he intended to name it after his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

Portland was the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s when direct railroad access between the deep water 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.


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) of it is water. The total area is 7.6% water.

As a result of a "great renumbering" in the 1930s, Portland is divided into five sections. Burnside Street bisects it into northern and southern halves. Below Burnside are the Southwest and Southeast sections, divided by the Willamette River. Above it, are Northwest, North, and Northeast sections; a separate North section is due to a bend in the Willamette which splits what would otherwise be a northwest quadrant into North Portland and Northwest sections of town. Locals refer to these areas by their section names (such as "Northwest"), with the exception of "North Portland", for which the full name is always used. 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 more than 150 blocks, until it meets Gresham.

  • 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 have been converted into lofts, and new multi-story condominiums have also been developed. The increasing density has attracted an urban mix of restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and art galleries, though in some cases pioneering tenants have been priced out of the area. The galleries sponsor receptions for their artists on the first Thursday of every month. Further west is the toney NW 23rd neighborhood and shopping area.
  • Southwest includes Pioneer Courthouse Square (downtown's "living room"), various suburban neighborhoods including the expensive West Hills (mentioned in a 1997 Everclear song), the campuses of Portland State University, OHSU, and Lewis and Clark College, and the south riverfront along Macadam Boulevard and the Willamette.
  • Northeast is largely working-class neighborhoods which are more diverse racially than Portland as a whole. Inner northeast includes several shopping districts such as the Lloyd and Hollywood Districts. The Rose Garden is located here.
  • North Portland, another working-class area, contains the St. John's neighborhood which has an old-fashioned and slightly run-down feeling, adjacent to the beautiful St. John's Bridge. 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, and grew to be the second largest city in Oregon; Vanport was wiped out by a disastrous flood in 1948. The area includes a new light-rail line, along Interstate Avenue, due to be completed in Spring of 2004. It is also home to the University of Portland.
  • Southeast stretches from the warehouses by the river, through the expensive Ladd's Addition, to hippie/Generation X Hawthorne and Belmont districts, to poorer neighborhoods beyond 82nd Avenue. Farther south, the Sellwood neighborhood and wealthy areas near Reed College are close to the Willamette, with Clackamas Town Center acting as a hub for business further east, where I-205 splits the region.


The metropolitan area includes twelve road bridges which span the Willamette River, and two others spanning the Columbia:
Portland is well-known for its comprehensive public transportation system. The major bus and rail system is named TriMet, reflecting the three metropolitan counties it serves (Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington).

A bus mall dominates 5th and 6th Avenues downtown. Almost all TriMet buses route through the mall, with bus stops grouped geographically by destination. This approach gives riders who miss a bus to have additional options for reaching their destination. Since the mall acts as a metro-area-wide hub, it also means riders can often get downtown without changing buses and reach most other destinations with only one change.

The light rail, or MAX consists of two lines, with a third opening in 2004:

  • The main line is 33 miles long, and goes from Hillsboro, a western suburb, through Beaverton and downtown, across the Willamette River to the eastern-most suburban city of Gresham.
  • A five-mile north-south extension connects the main line with the airport.
  • The newest route, almost six miles long and under construction until 2004, is a more central north-south one, connecting North Portland's Expo Center with downtown.

In addition, the Portland Streetcar began operation in 2001, with a five-mile loop from downtown's Portland State University, past Powell's City of Books, through the Pearl District, to the NW 23rd neighborhood.

Most of the downtown area is a "Fareless Square" where buses and MAX trains are free as long as you are travelling between two points within the square. The Fareless Square is bounded by the Willamette to the east, Irving Street to the north, and I-405 to the west and south.

A more unusual form of public transportation, an aerial tramway, is planned to connect the South riverfront area with Marquam Hill (also known as "Pill Hill"), the location of Oregon Health and Science University. This plan encountered significant opposition from the citizens living underneath its planned route, though resulting changes in design have addressed the most serious concerns.

Portland has earned more than one "most bicycle friendly city" award. An important hallmark for bicycle-friendly infrastructure was the expansion of the sidewalks of Hawthorne Bridge in 1997. While there were many other bicycle-friendly projects (such as the blue bike lanes project, and the Esplanade Riverfront Park), this one alone seemed to immediately help increase the number of daily bicycle commuters. A current project will bring bike "oasis" to the popular southeast Hawthorne Boulevard shopping district--architecturally distinctive, covered bicycle parking.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is a local bicycle advocacy group. [1]


Forest Park is one of the world's largest parks contained within a city, at about 20 km2 (7.7 mi2), or 5000 acres. Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, one of the smallest parks anywhere (being a two-foot diameter circle, its "acreage" is only about 0.3 square metres).

Perhaps the most famous park is Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which runs along west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre park was built in 1974 after a freeway was removed. Today it plays host to large events throughout the year, including several beer festivals, a series of blues concerts, and the Rose Festival carnival.

The only state park in the area is Tryon Creek State Park; its creek still has a run of steelhead trout.


Portland, like other Oregon cities, Hood River and Bend, is well-known for its good beer. Some illustrate its interest in the beverage by an offer made in 1888, when local brewer Henry Weinhard volunteered to pump beer from his brewery into the pipes of the newly dedicated Skidmore Fountain. But the renown for quality beer better 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 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, at least on a per-capita basis if not in number. 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. In 1999, Michael Jackson (the beer hunter, not the musician) called it a candidate for the beer capital of the world because the city had 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.

Professional sports

Tourist attractions

Colleges and universities

Notable Portlanders


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.

There are 223,737 households out of which 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 median income of $35,279 versus $29,344 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 people living in poverty, 15.7% are under the age of 18 and 10.4% are 65 or older.

Portland in film

Portland has been the setting or background for a number of films, including the following:

Sister cities

See also

List of radio stations in Oregon, the Oregonian newspaper, Portland General Electric, Raleigh Hills, Oregon, West Slope, Oregon, Personal Telco, PDX Wireless, Riverdale High School, and the Portland Surrealist Group

External links