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Lake Oswego ( ) is a city located primarily in Clackamas Countymarker in the U.S. state of Oregonmarker. Small portions of the city are also located in neighboring Multnomahmarker and Washingtonmarker counties. It is located south of Portlandmarker and surrounds the private 405-acre (1.6 km²) Oswego Lakemarker. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 35,278. The 2006 estimate is 36,350 residents.


Early history

The Clackamas Indians once occupied the land that later became Lake Oswego, but diseases transmitted by European explorers and traders killed most of the natives. Before the influx of non-native people via the Oregon Trail, the area between the Willamette River and Tualatin River had a scattering of early pioneer homesteads and farms.

19th century

As settlers arrived, encouraged by the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the subsequent Homestead Act, they found the land under-occupied.

Albert Alonzo Durham founded the town of Oswego in 1847, naming it after his New Yorkmarker birthplace. He also built a saw mill on Sucker Creek (now Oswego Creek), the town's first industry.

In 1855, the federal government forcibly relocated the remaining Clackamas Indians to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in nearby Yamhill Countymarker.

During this early period in Oregon history, most trade proceeded from Portlandmarker to Oregon Citymarker via the Willamette River, and up the Tualatin River Valley through Tualatinmarker, Schollsmarker, and Hillsboromarker. The thick woods and rain-muddied roads were major obstacles to traveling by land. Along the rivers of this area can still be seen the vestiges of river landings, ferry stops, and covered bridges of this period. A landing in the city's present-day George Rogers Park is thought to have been developed by Durham around 1850 for lumber transport; another landing was near the Tryon Creek outlet into the Willamette.
Ruins of the 1866 Oregon Iron Company furnace, George Rogers Park
In 1865, prompted by the earlier discovery of iron ore in the Tualatin Valleymarker, the Oregon Iron Companymarker was incorporated. Within two years the first blast furnace on the west coast was built, patterned after the arched furnaces common in northwestern Connecticutmarker, and the company set out to make Oswego into the Pittsburghmarker of the West. In 1878, the company was sold off to out-of-state owners and renamed the Oswego Iron Companymarker, and in 1882, Portland financiers Simeon Gannett Reed and Henry Villard purchased the business and renamed it the Oregon Iron and Steel Companymarker.

The railroad arrived in Oswego in 1886, in the form of the Portland and Willamette Valley Railway. A seven-mile-long line provided Oswego with a direct link to Portland. Prior to this, access to the town was limited to primitive roads and river boats. The railroad's arrival was a mixed blessing; locally, it promoted residential development along its path, which enabled Oswego to grow beyond its industrial roots. But nationally, the continued expansion of freight railroad system gave easy local access to cheaper and higher quality iron from the Great Lakesmarker region. This ultimately led to the local industry's demise.

By 1890, the industry produced 12,305 tons of pig iron, and at its peak provided employment to around 300 men. The success of this industry greatly stimulated the development of Oswego, which by this time had four general stores, a bank, two barber shops, two hotels, three churches, nine saloons, a drugstore, and even an opera house.

The iron industry was a vital part of a strategy designed by a few Portland financiers who strove to control all related entrepreneurial ventures in the late 1800s. Control of shipping and railroads was held under the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, later to become the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. This local monopoly responded to the area's increasing demand for iron and steel, and grew to play a key role in economic history throughout the area.

20th century

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company adapted to the new century by undertaking programs in land development, selling large tracts of the 24,000 acres (97 km²) it owned, and power, building a plant on Oswego Creek starting in 1905, and erecting power poles in subsequent years to supply power to Oswego citizens. With the water needs of the smelters tailing off, the recreational potential of the lake and town was freed to develop rapidly.

In 1910, the town of Oswego was incorporated .

The Southern Pacific Railroad, which had acquired the P&WVR line at the end of the 19th century, widened it from narrow to standard gauge and in 1914, electrified it, providing rapid, clean, and quiet service between Oswego and Portland.

Passenger traffic hit its peak in 1920 with 64 trains to and from Portland daily. Within nine years of the peak, passenger service ended and the line was used for intermittent freight service to Portland's south waterfront up until its abandonment in 1984. The line was preserved, however and the Willamette Shore Trolley provides tourist rides on the line today.

One of the land developers benefiting from sales by OI&S was Paul Murphy, whose Oswego Lake Country Club helped promote the new city as a place to "live where you play." Murphy was instrumental in developing the first water system to supply the western reaches of the city, and also played a key role in encouraging the design of fine homes in the 1930s and 1940s that ultimately would establish Oswego as an attractive place to live. In the 1940s and 1950s, continued development helped spread Oswego's residential areas.

In 1960, Oswego was renamed Lake Oswego when it annexed part of neighboring Lake Grovemarker.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.9 square miles (28.4 km²), of which, 10.4 square miles (26.8 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it is water. The total area is 5.57% water.

Oswego Lake is a private lake (an expansion of an earlier natural lake, named Waluga (wild swan) by Clackamas Indians) managed by the Lake Oswego Corporation. Houses with views of Oswego Lake and lakeshore property are very expensive and much sought after. This lake is navigable, with a dock at the east end where boaters can disembark and walk to the nearby businesses. The main canal from the Tualatin River was dug in the early part of the century.

Every five to ten years, the water level in the lake is lowered by opening the gates on the dam and allowing water to flow into Oswego Creek and on to the Willamette River, enabling lakefront property owners to conduct repairs on docks and boathouses. The lake was most recently lowered in October 2006.

The city extends up Mount Sylvaniamarker and through Lake Grovemarker towards Tualatinmarker.


Lake Oswego is one of the most affluent suburbs of Portland. In 2000, the city had a median household income of $71,597, up from $57,499 in 1990. Additionally, as in the rest of the Portland metropolitan area, house prices have increased rapidly (as of June 2006); the median value in 2000 was $296,200, over twice what it was in 1990 ($142,600). The city has some of the highest-priced real estate in the state, particularly the homes overlooking the lake. The 2007 estimate was $750,000 for houses not on the lake and $1,000,250 for those on the lake. These are the most expensive averages for Oregon cities.

As of the census of 2000, there are 35,278 people in the city, organized into 14,769 households, and 9,665 families. The population density is . There are 15,741 housing units at an average density of 1,521.4/sq mi (587.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 91.1% White, 4.6% Asian, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. 2.3% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 14,769 households out of which 32.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% are married couples living together, 6.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% are non-families. 27.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 2.95.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 31.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $71,597, and the median income for a family is $94,587 (These figures had risen to $76,883 and $105,763 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.) Males have a median income of $66,380 versus $41,038 for females. The per capita income for the city is $42,166. 3.4% of the population and 2.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 2.0% of those under the age of 18 and 4.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

City government

The city has a council-manager form of government, which vests policy-making authority in an elected, volunteer city council. The council consists of a mayor and six councilors, all of whom are elected at-large and serve four-year terms.

Day-to-day operations are handled by an appointed, professional city manager. Almost all of the city's employees, which include part-time staff amounting to approximately 342 full-time equivalents, report to the city manager. This includes the police chief, fire chief, one assistant city manager, and the community development director. The biggest groups are:
  • police and fire departments, consisting of about 50 people each,
  • the library, parks, and recreation departments, consisting of about 70 people total, and
  • about 80 people throughout the engineering, planning, and maintenance departments.

Civic involvement

Neighborhood associations play a formal role for citizen involvement in the city government's land-use planning and other activities. A neighborhood association's role is governed by state and city law. As of February 2005, there are 20 recognized neighborhood associations: Blue Heron ¤, Bryant ¤, Country Club-North Shore ¤, Evergreen ¤, First Addition, Forest Highlands, Glenmorrie, Hallinan, Holly Orchard, Lake Forest, Lake Grove, Lakewood ¤, McVey-South Shore ¤, Oak Creek, Old Town, Palisades ¤, Rosewood, Uplands, Waluga, and Westridge. (Associations including lakefront property are marked with a ¤ symbol.)

The Mountain Park neighborhood, located between Oak Creek and Holly Orchard on its west side and Forest Highlands and Uplands on its east, has a homeowners' association serving the role of neighborhood association for its residents.

The following statistics summarize other aspects of civic involvement:
  • Registered voters: 23,061
  • Citizen advisory boards: 10
  • Community volunteers: 500 plus
  • Citizens trained for community emergency response teams: 487

Public schools

Lake Oswego High School
Lakeridge High School
Lake Oswego School District is coterminous with the city boundaries and serves the city's approximately 7,000 students, with a ratio of 23 students per instructor. The two high schools in the district are Lake Oswego High Schoolmarker and Lakeridge High Schoolmarker. There are nine elementary schools and two junior high schools for students in grade 7 and 8.

Cultural and recreational facilities

The city maintains 573 acres (2.3 km²) of parks and open spaces. This includes 24 developed parks, one amphitheater, one swim park, one water sports center on the Willamette River, an adult community (senior) center, a public golf course (self-financed), an indoor tennis center, seven outdoor tennis courts, and five picnic shelters. An additional swim park is open to those who live in the boundaries of the old Lake Grove School District. The private Oswego Lake Country Club and neighboring equestrian riding club add to the recreational amenities of the city.

Lake Oswego has one public library, part of the Library Information Network of Clackamas County. For the past six years, the library has been rated among the top 10 libraries serving similar population sizes in the United States.

Notable residents

This is a partial list of notable residents, past and present, of Lake Oswego:
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (1985– ), NBA player for the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Jon Arnett, NFL player and member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • J. J. Birden, NFL wide receiver
  • Walter F. Brown (1926-), Navy Commander JAGC, Judge, State Senator, banned CFCs, Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party USA in 2004
  • Terry Dischinger (1940– ), basketball gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics and NBA player from 1962–1973 and orthodontist
  • Chris Dudley (1965– ), NBA player from 1987–2003
  • Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (1980-), NBA player for the Indiana Pacers
  • Mike Erickson (1963– ), businessman and candidate for U.S. Congress in 2006 and 2008
  • Rudy Fernández (1985– ), NBA player for the Portland Trail Blazers (2008-)
  • Stu Inman (1926–2007), co-founder of the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Neil Lomax (1959– ), NFL quarterback 1981–1988
  • Kevin Love (1988– ), NBA player for Minnesota Timberwolves and former UCLA Bruin
  • Stan Love (1949– ), NBA player 1971–1975
  • Merrill A. McPeak (1936– ), former U.S.A.F. chief of staff
  • Bart Miadich (1976- ), Major League Baseball pitcher 2001–2006
  • Julianne Phillips (1960– ), model, actress, co-star of 1990s TV series Sisters
  • Mike Richardson, co-founder/publisher of Dark Horse Comics
  • Don Schollander (1946– ) Olympic swimming gold medalist in 1964 and 1968
  • William Stafford (1914–1993), American poet and U.S. poet laureate 1970–1971
  • Nathan Farragut Twining (1897–1982), Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1957–1960

Sister cities

Lake Oswego has one sister city:


External links

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