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Portland is a city located in the Northwesternmarker United Statesmarker, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the state of Oregonmarker. As of July 2008, it has an estimated population of 557,706 making it the 29th most populous in the United States. It has been referred to as the most environmentally friendly or "green" city in the United States, and the 2nd most in the world. Portland is Oregon's most populous city, and the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest, after Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, and Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker. Approximately two million people live in the Portland metropolitan areamarker (MSA), the 23rd most populous in the United Statesmarker as of July 2006.

Portland was incorporated in 1851 and is the county seat of Multnomah Countymarker. The city extends slightly into Washington Countymarker to the west and Clackamas Countymarker 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 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" with many rose gardens—most prominently the International Rose Test Gardenmarker.


Portland in 1890

Portland started as a spot known as "the clearing," which was on the banks of the Willamette about halfway between Oregon Citymarker and Fort Vancouvermarker. 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, Massachusettsmarker: 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, Mainemarker. 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. 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, a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, the Weekly Oregonian. By 1879, the population had grown to 17,500. 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 Oceanmarker via the Willamette and the Columbia rivers and to the agricultural Tualatin Valleymarker 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. It remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattlemarker'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, and this became the city's official nickname in 2003. Other nicknames include Stumptown, Bridgetown, Rip City, Little Beirut, Beervana or Beertown, P-Town, and PDXmarker.



Portland lies at the northern end of Oregonmarker'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 Countymarker, small portions of the city lie within Clackamasmarker and Washingtonmarker 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 Washingtonmarker from the state of Oregonmarker) 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.

Portland lies on top of an extinct Plio-Pleistocene volcanic field known as the Boring Lava Fieldmarker. The Boring Lava Field includes at least 32 cinder cones such as Mount Tabormarker, and its center lies in Southeast Portland. The dormant but potentially active volcano Mount Hoodmarker to the east of Portland is easily visible from much of the city during clear weather. The active volcano Mount Saint Helensmarker to the north in Washingtonmarker 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.


Portland lies within the Marine west coast climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfb), although a drying trend in summer is a characteristic of the Mediterranean climate. Summers in Portland are warm, sunny and rather dry, with July averaging a high of 81 °F (27 °C) and a low of 58 °F (14 °C). 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 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 Gorgemarker. 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.


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 marker, 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 Greshammarker. Rural Multnomah County lies farther east.
In 1891 the cities of Portland, Albinamarker, and East Portlandmarker 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

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 of ecologically valuable natural areas had been purchased and permanently protected from development.

Portland is one of only three cities in the contiguous U.S. with extinct volcanoes within its boundaries (besides Jackson, Mississippimarker and Bend, Oregonmarker). Mount Tabor Parkmarker is known for its scenic views and historic reservoirs.

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

Tom McCall Waterfront Parkmarker runs along the west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 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 Areamarker 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 Sitemarker located in the West Hills and the Government Island State Recreation Areamarker located in the Columbia River near Portland International Airportmarker.

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 Parkmarker, just a few blocks from the real Klickitat Street of "Henry Huggins" fame.

Leach Botanical Gardenmarker is a botanical garden in the Southeast section of the city, featuring indigenous plants of the Pacific Northwest.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardenmarker is a garden in the southeastern city adjoining Reed Collegemarker, featuring more than 2,500 rhododendron, azalea, and companion plants.

Hoyt Arboretummarker is a popular Portland open space, covering 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 Portlandmarker, 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 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 and regular Church of Craft meetings, and is home to such stores as Knittn' Kitten, SCRAP, and many independently-owned stores such as Bolt, Yarn Garden, 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, 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

Like most large cities, Portland has a range of performing arts institutions which include the Oregon Ballet Theatremarker, Oregon Symphony, Portland Center Stage, 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 at the Hollywood Theatremarker.

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 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 Body of Evidence, 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 Pubmarker.

Recently the TNT show Leverage has moved to Portland, and many of Portlands local buildings and locations have been seen in the Second season episodes filmed here.


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 Museummarker 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 Industrymarker (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 marker submarine, used in the film The Hunt for Red October.

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

Portlandiamarker, a statue on the west side of the Portland Buildingmarker, 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 Booksmarker 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.

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. 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, and the Holiday Ale Festival in December.


Portland has many options for shopping. Some of the well known shopping areas are Downtown Portlandmarker, N.W. 23rd Avenue, Pearl Districtmarker, and the Lloyd Districtmarker. Major department stores include Nordstrommarker, Macy*smarker, Saks 5th Avenue, and Mario's. The major malls in the metropolitan area are Bridgeport Village, Washington Square, Clackamas Town Centermarker, Lloyd Centermarker, Vancouver Mallmarker, and Pioneer Placemarker. 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 Oregonmarker produced products and gifts.


Portland is well-known for its microbrewery beer. Oregon Public Broadcasting has documented Portland's role in the microbrew revolution in the United States, in a report called, "Beervana," a term that refers to a distinctly "Portland state of mind". 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. 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. 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, Germanymarker. The Portland Oregon Visitors Association is promoting "Beervana" and "Brewtopia" as nicknames for the city. In mid-January 2006, Mayor Tom Potter officially gave the city a new nickname—Beertown.


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

In addition to beer, Portland has become known as a premier coffee destination in the Pacific Northwest, second only to Seattlemarker in terms of the quality and abundance of its coffee houses. lists more than 20 coffee houses in Portland with 4.5-5 star ratings. The city is home to the original Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a well-known direct-trade roastery among coffee aficionados, with locations in Seattlemarker and New Yorkmarker in addition to dozens of other micro-roasteries and cafes.


Portland is home to the Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association. Beginning in 2011, the city will host a Major League Soccer franchise, which will be a continuation of the Portland Timbers. 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 Hoodmarker, including year-round Timberlinemarker.

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.

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 Velodromemarker and Portland International Racewaymarker 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.

Notable media

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

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. 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. 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. 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.

Real estate and construction

Oregon's 1973 "urban growth boundary" law limits the boundaries for large scale development in each metropolitan area in Oregon. This limits access to utilities such as sewage, water and telecommunications, as well as coverage by fire, police and schools. 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.

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. In October, 2009, the Forbes magazine rated Portland as the 3rd safest city in America.


Computer components manufacturer Intelmarker 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 Hillsboromarker. The metro area is home to more than 1,200 technology companies. 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 Sportswearmarker corporation, Yakima Products and Nike, Inc.marker. Beaverton, Oregonmarker's Nike, Inc. and Portland's Precision Castparts Corp.marker 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 Oregonmarker 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. 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.

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.


Portland is the largest shipper of wheat in the United States, and is the second largest port for wheat in the world.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. The Port of Portland is the third largest U.S. port on the west coast, though it is located about upriver.


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% 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 Beavertonmarker and Wilsonvillemarker. The Portland Streetcar operates from the south waterfront, through Portland State University and north to nearby homes and shopping districts. Within the Fareless Squaremarker, a designated geographic area centered in downtown, rides on TriMet's buses, MAX, and streetcar are free. Fifth and Sixth avenues within downtown comprise the Portland Transit Mallmarker, 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.

I-5 connects Portland with the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregonmarker, and Californiamarker to the south and with Washingtonmarker 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 Airportmarker. US 26 supports commuting within the metro area and continues to the Pacific Oceanmarker westward and Mount Hoodmarker and Central Oregonmarker eastward. US 30 has a main, bypass, and business route through the city extending to Astoria, Oregonmarker to the west; through Gresham, Oregonmarker, and the eastern exurbs, and connects to I-84, traveling towards Boise, Idahomarker.

Portland's main airport is Portland International Airportmarker, 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 Heliportmarker.Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Portland at Union Stationmarker 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, Oregonmarker, 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.It ranks highly among the most bicycle friendly cities in the world.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. Approximately 8% of commuters bike to work, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average. 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 Trammarker, which connects the South Waterfrontmarker district on the Willamette River to the Oregon Health & Science Universitymarker campus on Marquam Hill above.

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

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 Centermarker, Oregon Zoomarker, Portland Center for the Performing Artsmarker, and Portland Metropolitan Exposition Centermarker. The Multnomah Countymarker government also provides many services to the Portland area, along with that of Washingtonmarker and Clackamasmarker Counties to the west and south.

Since the 1950s, if not earlier, Portland has strongly favored the Democratic Party at all levels of government. 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. As such, 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 Countymarker, which contains Corvallismarker, home of Oregon State Universitymarker, was the only other county where the initiative failed.

Planning and development

Aerial view of central Portland

The city consulted with urban planners as far back as 1903. Development of Washington Parkmarker 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; 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, Texasmarker.

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). 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. The rapid growth of two major employers in Washington County, namely Nikemarker and Intelmarker, contributed to this pressure.

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.

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 Reykjavíkmarker, Icelandmarker.

Free speech

Because of strong free speech protections of the Oregon Constitution upheld by the Oregon Supreme Courtmarker Henry v. Oregon Constitution 1987 which specifically found that full nudity and lap dances in strip clubs are protected speech, Portland is widely considered to have more strip clubs per capita than Las Vegasmarker or San Franciscomarker.

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." The 2009 Naked Bike Ride occurred without significant incident. City police managed traffic intersections. There were an estimated 3000 to 5000 participants.

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.


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 (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.

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.

In 1940, Portland's African-American population was approximately 2,000 and largely consisted of railroad employees and their families. 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 Albinamarker district and Vanportmarker. The May, 1948 flood which destroyed Vanportmarker eliminated the only integrated neighborhood, and an influx of blacks into the NE quadrant of the city continued. 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. 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.


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 Collegemarker, Portland State Universitymarker, and Oregon Health & Science Universitymarker.

Sister cities

Portland has nine sister cities:

Portland also has a "Friendship City" relationship with:


File:Portland or 1897.png|1897 topographic map of Portland shows streets, railroads, and significant differences in the Columbia SloughImage:Taborpanojpeg.JPG|Reservoir 6 At Mount TaborImage:Portland rose.jpg|The rose has a significant role in Portland's history, inspiring one of its nicknames.Image:Portland Max Tunnel.jpg|MAX Light Rail and underground station at the Oregon ZoomarkerImage:pdxspread.jpg|A view of the Willamette River from the Roof of the KOIN Centermarker

See also


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.
  • 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
  • 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

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