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Portland, Oregon

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, a few dozen miles from the west (Pacific) coast of the United States. It is situated just south of where the Columbia River joins the Willamette River. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 529,121. 2,180,996 people live in the Portland area, making it the 22nd largest metro area in the United States.

Portland, Feb 2003

The city is nicknamed "The City of Roses", and hosts a Rose Festival each Spring. Informally, residents of Portland also call it "PDX", from the airport code of Portland International Airport. Other nicknames are "City of Bridges", "Rip City", "River City", and "Puddletown". One of the oldest nicknames attached to the city is from the early days 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. The stumps remained in some areas 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. Thus, Portland earned the nickname, "Stumptown".

Portland has a well-deserved reputation for its vibrant and livable downtown. Many credit Oregon's proactive land use policies, which introduced something called an urban growth boundary in 1974. The urban growth boundary preserved agricultural land and promoted density in development. This was atypical in an era when automobile use led many cities to reduce, not increase, density.

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It 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 25 cents needed to file a land claim. So, he struck a bargain with Lovejoy: In return for a quarter, 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. The city was named when Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy, held a coin toss. Pettygrove won, and named the new town after his hometown of Portland, Maine; had Lovejoy won, he intended to name it after his Boston, Massachusetts hometown.

Portland was the major port in the northwestern United States for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s when direct railroad access between the deep water harbor at Seattle and points east by way of Stampede Pass[?] had been built. Goods could then be transported from the northwest coast to inland cities without needing to navigate the Columbia Bar[?] at the mouth of the river.

Geography 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 7.60% water.

As a result of a great renumbering in the 1930s, Portland is divided into five sections. The Willamette River bisects the city into an eastern and western section, and Burnside Street bisects it into a northern and southern section. These sections are NW, SW, NE, and SE. The river curves to the NW north of Burnside, so the section of N Portland that is actually north of the river is the N section. The city is slightly asymmetrical, because the west side is cut off by the West Hills, while the east side stretches on for more than 150 blocks, until it meets Gresham. Locals refer to these areas by the abbreviated names "Northwest", "Southwest", "Northeast" and "Southeast"; however for "North Portland" the full name is always used.

  • Northwest is a mix of industry, old warehouses which are being converted into condos, a trendy shopping district, and art galleries.
  • Southwest contains downtown, the super-rich West Hills, and the Macadam Blvd. area, as well as Lewis and Clark College.
  • Northeast is largely working-class neighborhoods. Considered the multicultural center of Portland, it is recognized for its diversity. Northeast contains several shopping and tourist oriented districts, including Lloyd Center, Broadway, Hollywood and Alberta.
  • North Portland, another working-class area, contains the St. Johns neighborhood which has an old-fashioned and slightly run down feeling, right next to the beautiful St. John's Bridge[?]. Some areas of North Portland are going through a lot of changes, due to the new MAX line going in on Interstate Avenue, due to be completed in Fall of 2004.
  • Southeast is calm, very white, and stretches from the warehouses by the river, through the hippie Hawthorne district, to the white-trashy 82nd Ave and beyond. It is a haven for aging leftists, gardeners, anarchists, and Reed College.

The Portland metropolitan area also 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 itself is in Multnomah County.

Demographics As of the census of 2000, there are 529,121 people, 223,737 households, and 118,356 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,521.0/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 9.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 3.00.

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.


Forest Park (http://www.portlandparks.org/Parks/ForestPark.htm) 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 (http://www.portlandparks.org/Parks/MillEnds.htm), 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 the Willamette River for the length of downtown. The 37-acre park was built in 1974 by removing a freeway which previously ran alongside the river. Today it plays host to large events throughout the year, including several beer festivals, a series of blues concerts, and the Rose Festival carnival.

Public transportation

Portland is well-known for its comprehensive public transportation system.

5th and 6th Aves in downtown are designated for bus traffic only. The bus system is extremely organized, with almost all bus routes ending in downtown on the bus mall, where bus stops are grouped geographically by destination, so that if you miss your bus you can take another one that goes close by.

The light rail, or MAX goes from Hillsboro, a western suburb, to Gresham, an eastern suburb. It goes through downtown, past the Lloyd Center shopping mall, and the Hollywood district. Another MAX line goes from downtown to the airport, and a route along Interstate Blvd. is under construction, and scheduled to be completed in Fall of 2004.

In addition, the Portland Streetcar began operation in 2001, with a short route from Portland State University, through downtown, to the shopping district on NW 23rd.

A more controversial form of public transportation, an aerial tramway, is planned to connect the North Macadam neighborhood with Marquam Hill (also known as "Pill Hill": the location of Oregon Health and Science University[?]).

Sports teams

Colleges and universities

Notable current and former Portlanders

Cultural institutions

Related links

See also

Reed College, Personal Telco, PDX Wireless[?], Pacific Northwest College of Art[?], Nike, Inc.

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