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Multnomah County ( ) is one of 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregonmarker. Though smallest in area, it is the most populous as its county seat, Portlandmarker, is the state's largest city. In 2006, the county's population was 681,454.The county was likely named after Native American people first recorded in the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Mulknomans, who lived in a village on the east side of present-day Sauvie Islandmarker. (An alternative theory holds that Multnomah is a corruption of nematlnomaq, meaning down river.)


Multnomah County (the thirteenth in Oregon Territorymarker) was created on December 22, 1854, formed out of the eastern part of Washingtonmarker and the northern part of Clackamasmarker counties. Its creation was a result of a petition earlier that year by businessmen in Portland complaining of the inconvenient location of the Washington County seat in Hillsboromarker and of the share of Portland tax revenues leaving the city to support Washington County farmers. County commissioners met for the first time on January 17, 1855.

According to an Oregonian article, the entire county council was recalled in 1924.

At various times in the 20th century, an initiative has been placed on the county ballot to merge Portland with the county government. None of these proposals have been approved.

Since 2000

In the 2000 presidential election, Multnomah played a decisive role in determining the winner of the state's electoral votes. Al Gore carried the county by more than 104,000 votes, enough to offset the nearly 100,000-vote advantage that George W. Bush had earned among Oregon's 35 other counties. The Democratic tilt was repeated in 2004, when John Kerry won by 181,000 votes, and in 2008 when Barack Obama won by 204,000 votes.

In February 2001, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners unanimously accepted the recommendation of the Library Advisory Boardmarker and authorized the library to enter into a lawsuit to stop the Children's Internet Protection Act. The US Supreme Courtmarker ultimately decided in 2003 that the law was constitutional in US v. ALA. However, the library chose to turn down $104,000 per year of federal funding under CIPA to be able to continue to offer unfiltered Internet access.

Couples waiting for same-sex marriage licenses in Multnomah County
with decreasing government revenues due to a recession in the local economy, voters approved a three-year local income tax (Measure 26-48) on May 20, 2003 to prevent further cuts in schools, police protection, and social services. Multnomah County was one of the few local governments in Oregon to approve such a tax increase.

On March 2, 2004, Multnomah County Chair Linn announced the county would begin granting licenses for same-sex marriages, pursuant to a legal opinion issued by its attorney deeming such marriages lawful under Oregon law. Her announcement was supported by three other commissioners (Serena Cruz, Lisa Naito & Maria Rojo de Steffey), but criticized by Lonnie Roberts, who represents the eastern part of Multnomah county and was left out of the decision. Within a few days, several groups joined to file a lawsuit to halt the county's action; see Same-sex unions in Oregon.

Law and government

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 20.6% 75,171 76.7% 279,696
2004 27.1% 98,439 71.6% 259,585
2000 28.2% 83,677 63.5% 188,441
1996 26.3% 71,094 59.2% 159,878
1992 24.2% 95,561 55.3% 165,081
1988 36.5% 95,561 61.6% 161,361
1984 45.2% 119,932 54.3% 144,179
1980 39.2% 101,606 46.5% 120,487
Elected Officials
  • County Commission (one chair, four commissioners; nonpartisan)
    • Chair: Ted Wheeler
    • Commissioner, District 1: Deborah Kafoury
    • Commissioner, District 2: Jeff Cogen
    • Commissioner, District 3: Judy Shiprack
    • Commissioner, District 4: Diane McKeel
  • District Attorney: Michael Schrunk
  • Sheriffmarker: Robert Skipper
  • Auditor: Steve March
  • Circuit Court district 4

Appointed Officials
  • Elections: Tim Scott
  • Finance: Mindy Harris
  • Surveyor: Robert Hovden

Map of Multnomah County legislative districts


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 466 square miles (1,206 km²), of which, 435 square miles (1,127 km²) of it is land and 79 km² (30 sq mi or 6.53%) of it is water.

The county includes a number of extinct volcanoes in the Boring Lava Fieldmarker. The Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorgemarker forms the eastern portion of the county's northern border.

Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected area


The principal industries of Multnomah County are manufacturing, transportation, wholesale and retail trade, and tourism. Since Oregon does not have a sales tax, it attracts shoppers from southwest Washingtonmarker.

The Port of Portland, established in 1891 and combined with the City of Portland's Commission of Public Docks in 1971, ranks third in total waterborne commerce on the West Coast. Portland is one of the five largest auto import ports in the nation and is the West Coast's leading exporter of grain and lumber. The Port of Portland is also responsible for Portland International Airportmarker in the Northeast section of Portland, the Troutdale Airportmarker a few miles east of PDX in Multnomah County, the Hillsboro Airportmarker to the west in Washington County, and Mulino Airportmarker to the south in Clackamas County.

The Multnomah County Librarymarker has a small impact on the county budget: the county library, which supplies Internet service to area libraries, turns down $104,000 per year in federal funding starting in 2004, to obviate the need to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act so as to maintain unfiltered Internet access.


The county is home to a number of Portland-area attractions and venues, including Oregon Museum of Science and Industrymarker, Portland Art Museummarker, Memorial Coliseummarker, Oregon Convention Centermarker, Rose Gardenmarker, Washington Parkmarker, Oregon Zoomarker, International Rose Test Gardenmarker, Portland Classical Chinese Gardenmarker, Portland Japanese Gardenmarker, and Pittock Mansionmarker.

It is also home to the Historic Columbia River Highway, Multnomah Fallsmarker, and Oxbow Regional Parkmarker.


As of the 2000 census, there are 660,486 people in the county, organized into 272,098 households and 152,102 families. The population density is 1,518 people per square mile (586/km²). There are 288,561 housing units at an average density of 663 per square mile (256/km²). The racial makeup of the county is 79.16% White, 5.70% Asian, 5.67% Black or African American, 1.03% Native American, 0.35% Pacific Islander, 4.03% from other races, and 4.07% from two or more races. 7.51% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.0% were of German, 9.0% English, 8.8% Irish and 5.1% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000. 83.5% spoke English, 6.3% Spanish, 1.7% Vietnamese and 1.3% Russian as their first language.

There are 272,098 households out of which 26.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% are married couples living together, 10.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.1% are non-families. 32.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.37 and the average family size is 3.03.

In the county, the population is spread out with 22.30% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 33.80% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.10% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 98.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $41,278, and the median income for a family is $51,118. Males have a median income of $36,036 versus $29,337 for females. The per capita income for the county is $22,606. 12.70% of the population and 8.20% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.40% of those under the age of 18 and 9.80% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.



Unincorporated communities

See also


External links

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