Portland is the largest city in Oregon, and county seat of Multnomah County. It is a major Pacific seaport located about sixty miles from the west coast of the United States, situated on both sides of the Willamette River, just south of its confluence with the Columbia River. According the US Census estimates, as of July 2003, the city's population was estimated to be 538,544, a growth of 1.7% over the April 2000 census figure of 529,121.
The Portland metropolitan area spans Multnomah and Washington counties and parts of Clackamas, Columbia, and Yamhill counties in Oregon, and Clark County in Washington, with a population of 2,016,357 as of July 2003, 5.2% more than the 2000 census figure for the area. The metropolitan 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).
The city and the region
Portland is often cited as an example of a well-planned city. The credit for this starts with Oregon's proactive land use policies, particularly the establishment of an urban growth boundary (UGB) 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.
Portland's success in urban planning continues with the Metropolitan Service District (Metro for short), a regional government directly elected by voters. Metro's charter includes land use and transportation planning, solid waste management, and map development. Metro manages the UGB by coordinating with the cities and counties in the area to ensure a 20-year-supply of developable land with the infrastructure that land needs.
Metro's master plan for the Portland region includes Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), centered around light rail lines. This includes mixed-use and high-density development around stops and transit centers, and investing the metropolitan area's share of federal tax dollars into multiple modes of transportation. Metro's master plan also includes multiple town centers, smaller versions of the city center, scattered throughout the metropolitan area.
TOD is part of the national trend sometimes referred to as new urbanism, a trend that Portland developers and city planners are helping to pioneer.
In 1995 Metro introduced the 2040 plan as a way to define long term growth planning. The 2040 Growth Concept is designed to accommodate 780,000 additional people and 350,000 jobs by the year 2040. This plan has created some criticism from environmentalists, but few consider it a threat to Portland's legacy of urban growth management.
An April 2004 study in the Journal of the American Planning Association tried to quantify the effects of Metro's plans on Portland's urban form. While the report cautioned against finding a direct link between any single one policy and any improvements in Portland's urban form, it showed strong correlation between Metro's 2040 plan and various west-side changes in Portland. Changes cited include increased density and mixed-use development as well as improved pedestrian/non-automobile accessibility.
Portland has many nicknames. The City of Roses and Rose City originated during the 1905 Lewis and Clark centennial. The climate is ideal for growing roses and the city is home to the annual Rose Festival, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Rose Garden Arena.
One of the oldest nicknames, "Stumptown", comes from the period of phenomenal growth after 1847. The city was growing 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.
Other nicknames include:
Portland started as a spot known as "The Clearing" which was on the Willamette about half-way between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. In 1843, William Overton saw great commercial potential for this land; his only problem was that he lacked the quarter needed to file a land claim. So, he struck a bargain with his partner Asa Lovejoy: for 25¢, Overton would share his claim to the 640 acre (2.6 km²) site.
Bored with clearing trees and building roads, Overton sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove. When it came time to name their new town, Pettygrove and Lovejoy each wanted to name it after his home town. They settled the argument with a coin toss. Pettygrove won, and named it after Portland, Maine; had Lovejoy won, he intended to name it after Boston, Massachusetts.
In its early years, Portland existed in the shadow of Oregon City, the territorial capital twelve miles upstream on the falls of the Willamette. However, Portland was located at the Willamette's head of navigation, the furthest point inland one could reliably reach by ship. This gave it a key advantage over its older peer. It also triumphed over early rivals like Milwaukie. By 1850 Portland had approximately 800 inhabitants, a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, called the Weekly Oregonian.
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.
In 2003, Vera Katz, mayor since 1992, announced that she would not seek a fourth term. In the May 18, 2004 primary election, none of the 10 candidates running received a majority of votes, so the two with the most votes -- former police chief Tom Potter and City Commissioner Jim Francesconi -- will face each other in the November general election.
Downtown Portland has compact city blocks and narrow streets. Each block is 200 ft (60 m) square; by comparison, Seattle's city blocks are 240 by 320 feet (70 by 100 m), and Manhattan's east-west streets are divided into blocks that are from 600 to 800 feet (180 to 240 m) long. In addition, most streets are 60 feet (20 m) wide, so the combination of compact blocks and narrow streets make the downtown more pedestrian-friendly.
As a result of a "great renumbering" on September 2, 1931, Portland is divided into five sections  (http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?&a=bbadi&c=cheai). 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 typically used, although it is infrequently abbreviated as "NoPo". 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, I Will Buy You A New Life.), the campuses of Portland State University, OHSU, and Lewis and Clark College, and the south riverfront along Macadam Boulevard and the Willamette, over 100 acres (0.4 km²) of former industrial land. The city of Portland is hoping to redevelop this area into a mixed-use, high-density neighborhood, with 2700 residential units and provide 5,000 high-tech jobs after build-out. It is estimated that it would cost the city about 2 billion dollars to build altogether but the estimate could change in the future due to change in plan or scaling-down of the operation.
North Portland, another working-class area, contains the St. Johns neighborhood adjacent to the St. Johns Bridge. St. Johns has been described as having an old-fashioned and slightly run-down feeling; North Portland overall has been accredited with a cozy "small town" charm by some inhabitants.
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. It grew to be the second largest city in Oregon, but was wiped out by a disastrous flood in 1948. The old Housing Authority of Portland's Columbia Villa in the Portsmouth Neighborhood is being rebuilt; the new, $150 million community will be known as New Columbia and will offer public housing, rental housing, and single family home ownership units.
The area includes a new light-rail line (opened in 2004) along Interstate Avenue, which parallels Interstate 5. It is also home to the University of Portland. North Portland also has other various public transportation routes with several frequent service lines.
Northeast contains a diverse collection of neighborhoods, both sociologically and ethnically. While Irvington and the Alameda Ridge boast some of the most expensive homes in Portland, nearby Albina (for example) is a more working-class neighborhood. Northeast is more diverse racially than Portland as a whole. Inner Northeast includes several shopping districts such as the Lloyd and Hollywood Districts. The city plan targets Lloyd District as another mixed-use area, with high-rise residential development. Developers are waiting for the success of a seed project before intensive development occurs.
Rose Quarter is another district within the area. It is named after the Rose Garden, which is the home of the Portland Trail Blazers, and includes the Blazers' former home, the Memorial Coliseum. During the team's home games, the area is quite active, with spectators for the game mixing with local restaurant and bar patrons. The city hopes to expand this area beyond game-time entertainment, by promoting a major increase in residential units in the quarter, using zoning and tax incentives.
Southeast stretches from the warehouses by the river, through the expensive Ladd's Addition, to hippie/Generation X Hawthorne and Belmont districts, over Mt. Tabor and on to poorer neighborhoods beyond 82nd Avenue.
Farther south, the Brooklyn, Sellwood, Woodstock, and Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods 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.
Highways and bridges
The metropolitan area is served by the following highways:
along with several state highways.
And two spanning the Columbia River:
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 (known as the Portland Transit Mall) dominates 5th and 6th Avenues downtown. Almost all TriMet buses route through the mall, with bus stops grouped geographically by 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.
At the heart of the downtown area is "Fareless Square" where mass transit systems are free within the square. The original Fareless Square was bounded by the Willamette to the east, Irving Street to the north, and I-405 to the west and south; a spur into the Lloyd District was later included, rendering the fareless area a square in name only.
Proposed extensions to MAX include:
In addition, the Portland Streetcar began operation in 2001, with a five-mile loop from downtown's Portland State University (PSU), past Powell's City of Books, through the Pearl District, to the NW 23rd neighborhood. For 2004, a 0.6-mile extension to the streetcar line is being constructed; this connects PSU with RiverPlace, and is a step towards continuing into the South Waterfront/North Macadam area and utilizing the right-of-way preserved by the Willamette Shore Trolley to reach Lake Oswego.
A more unusual form of public transportation, the Portland Aerial Tram, is an aerial tramway planned to connect the South Waterfront with Oregon Health and Science University and the surrounding Marquam Hill area. This plan encountered significant opposition from the citizens living underneath its planned route, though resulting changes in design have addressed their 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. Other bicycle-friendly projects include the blue bike lanes project, and the Esplanade Riverfront Park. A more-recent project will bring covered bicycle parking to the popular southeast Hawthorne Boulevard shopping district.
Portland is proud of its parks and its legacy of preserving open spaces. In fact, it has one of the highest parks-per-capita ratios among cities in the United States.
Forest Park is one of the world's largest parks contained within a city (and definitely the United State's largest park contained within a city), at about 5000 acres (20 km²). Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park (web site) (http://www.portlandparks.org/Parks/MillEnds.htm), the world's smallest park (being a two-foot diameter circle, its area is only about 0.3 square meters). Washington Park (web site) (http://www.portlandparks.org/Parks/Washington.htm) is west of downtown, home to the Oregon Zoo, a Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden, all accessible from a MAX stop which is the deepest subway station in the country.
The Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre (150,000 m²) 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.
In addition, within Portland's downtown, two groups of contiguous city blocks are dedicated for park space; they are referred to as the North and South Park Blocks.
Portland is also home to Portland Classical Chinese Garden, an authentic representation of a Suzhou-style walled garden. Local construction workers provided the site preparation and foundation and dozens of workers from Suzhou, using material from China, constructed its walls and other structures, including a tea house.
The only state park in the area is Tryon Creek State Park; its creek still has a run of steelhead.
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.
Portland is served by a number of local resorts located on nearby Mount Hood: Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl, Cooper Spur, and Ski Bunny. Timberline allows skiers to reach the Mt. Hood Glacier area and allows skiing year round. In the summer months there are many ski and snowboard camps. Timberline remains one of only two resorts in North America to have year-round skiing, Whistler in British Columbia being the other.
Colleges and universities
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.
Of these 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.
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:
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, the Portland Linux/Unix Group and the Portland Surrealist Group
Portland AskFactMaster.Com communities