Portland, Oregon

Portland (/ˈpɔːrtlənd/; PORT-lənd) is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2018, Portland had an estimated population of 653,115,[7] making it the 25th most populated city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest after Seattle.[9] Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous in the United States. Its combined statistical area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.[lower-alpha 1]

Portland, Oregon
"Rose City"; "Stumptown"; "PDX"; see Nicknames of Portland, Oregon for a complete list.
Interactive map outlining Portland
Location within Oregon
Location within the United States
Location within North America
Coordinates: 45°31′12″N 122°40′55″W
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedFebruary 8, 1851
Named forPortland, Maine[1]
  MayorTed Wheeler[2] (D)
  AuditorMary Hull Caballero
  City145 sq mi (376 km2)
  Land133 sq mi (346 km2)
  Water12 sq mi (30 km2)
50 ft (15.2 m)
Highest elevation1,188 ft (362 m)
Lowest elevation0.62 ft (0.19 m)
  RankUS: 25th
  Density4,504.2/sq mi (1,737/km2)
1,849,898 (US: 24th)
2,478,810 (US: 25th)
3,239,335 (US: 19th)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
Area codes503 and 971
FIPS code41-59000
GNIS feature ID1136645[8]

Named after Portland, Maine,[10] the Oregon settlement began to be populated in the 1830s near the end of the Oregon Trail. Its water access provided convenient transportation of goods, and the timber industry was a major force in the city's early economy. At the turn of the 20th century, the city had a reputation as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world, a hub for organized crime and racketeering. After the city's economy experienced an industrial boom during World War II, its hard-edged reputation began to dissipate. Beginning in the 1960s,[11] Portland became noted for its growing progressive political values, earning it a reputation as a bastion of counterculture.[12]

The city operates with a commission-based government guided by a mayor and four commissioners as well as Metro, the only directly elected metropolitan planning organization in the United States.[13] The city government is notable for its land-use planning and investment in public transportation.[14] Portland is frequently recognized as one of the world's most environmentally conscious cities because of its high walkability, large community of bicyclists, farm-to-table dining, expansive network of public transportation options, and over 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of public parks. As a result, Portland consistently ranks highly in quality of life in the United States.[15] Its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. This climate is ideal for growing roses, and Portland has been called the "City of Roses" for over a century.[16]


Pre-history and natives

During the prehistoric period, the land that would become Portland was flooded after the collapse of glacial dams from Lake Missoula, in what would later become Montana. These massive floods occurred during the last ice age and filled the Willamette Valley with 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) of water.[17]

Before American pioneers began arriving in the 1800s, the land was inhabited for many centuries by two bands of indigenous Chinook people—the Multnomah and the Clackamas.[18] The Chinook people occupying the land were first documented in 1805 by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.[19] Before its European settlement, the Portland Basin of the lower Columbia River and Willamette River valleys had been one of the most densely populated regions on the Pacific Coast.[19]


Large numbers of pioneer settlers began arriving in the Willamette Valley in the 1830s via the Oregon Trail, though life was originally centered in nearby Oregon City. In the early 1840s a new settlement emerged ten miles from the mouth of the Willamette River,[20] roughly halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. This community was initially referred to as "Stumptown" and "The Clearing" because of the many trees cut down to allow for its growth.[21] In 1843 William Overton saw potential in the new settlement but lacked the funds to file an official land claim. For 25 cents, Overton agreed to share half of the 640-acre (2.6 km2) site with Asa Lovejoy of Boston.[22]

In 1845 Overton sold his remaining half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. Both Pettygrove and Lovejoy wished to rename "The Clearing" after their respective hometowns (Lovejoy's being Boston, and Pettygrove's, Portland). This controversy was settled with a coin toss that Pettygrove won in a series of two out of three tosses, thereby providing Portland with its namesake.[1] 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,[23] a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, the Weekly Oregonian. A major fire swept through downtown in August 1873, destroying twenty blocks on the west side of the Willamette along Yamhill and Morrison Streets, and causing $1.3 million in damage,[24] roughly equivalent to $27.2 million today.[25] By 1879, the population had grown to 17,500 and by 1890 it had grown to 46,385.[26] In 1888, the city built the first steel bridge built on the West Coast.[27]

Portland's access to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette and Columbia rivers, as well as its easy access to the agricultural Tualatin Valley via the "Great Plank Road" (the route of current-day U.S. Route 26), provided the pioneer city with an advantage over other nearby ports, and it grew very quickly.[28] Portland remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattle'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 city had its own Japantown,[29] for one, and the lumber industry also became a prominent economic presence, due to the area's large population of Douglas fir, western hemlock, red cedar, and big leaf maple trees.[19]

Portland developed a reputation early in its history as a hard-edged and gritty port town.[31] Some historians have described the city's early establishment as being a "scion of New England; an ends-of-the-earth home for the exiled spawn of the eastern established elite."[32] In 1889, The Oregonian called Portland "the most filthy city in the Northern States", due to the unsanitary sewers and gutters,[33] and, at the turn of the 20th century, it was considered one of the most dangerous port cities in the world.[34] The city housed a large number of saloons, bordellos, gambling dens, and boardinghouses which were populated with miners after the California Gold Rush, as well as the multitude of sailors passing through the port.[31] By the early 20th century, the city had lost its reputation as a "sober frontier city" and garnered a reputation for being violent and dangerous.[31][35]

20th-century development

Between 1900 and 1930, the city's population tripled from nearly 100,000 to 301,815.[36] During World War II, it housed an "assembly center" from which up to 3,676 people of Japanese descent were dispatched to internment camps in the heartland. It was the first American city to have residents report thus,[37] and the Pacific International Livestock Exposition operated from May through September 10, 1942 processing people from the city, northern Oregon, and central Washington.[38] General John DeWitt called the city the first "Jap free city on the West Coast."[37]

At the same time, Portland became a notorious hub for underground criminal activity and organized crime between the 1940s and 1950s.[39] In 1957, Life magazine published an article detailing the city's history of government corruption and crime, specifically its gambling rackets and illegal nightclubs.[39] The article, which focused on crime boss Jim Elkins, became the basis of a fictionalized film titled Portland Exposé (1957). In spite of the city's seedier undercurrent of criminal activity, Portland enjoyed an economic and industrial surge during World War II. Ship builder Henry J. Kaiser had been awarded contracts to build Liberty ships and aircraft carrier escorts, and chose sites in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, for work yards.[40] During this time, Portland's population rose by over 150,000, largely attributed to recruited laborers.[40]

During the 1960s, an influx of hippie subculture began to take root in the city in the wake of San Francisco's burgeoning countercultural scene.[11] The city's Crystal Ballroom became a hub for the city's psychedelic culture, while food cooperatives and listener-funded media and radio stations were established.[41] A large social activist presence evolved during this time as well, specifically concerning Native American rights, environmentalist causes, and gay rights.[41] By the 1970s, Portland had well established itself as a progressive city, and experienced an economic boom for the majority of the decade; however, the slowing of the housing market in 1979 caused demand for the city and state timber industries to drop significantly.[42]

1990s to present

In the 1990s, the technology industry began to emerge in Portland, specifically with the establishment of companies like Intel, which brought more than $10 billion in investments in 1995 alone.[43] After the year 2000, Portland experienced significant growth, with a population rise of over 90,000 between the years 2000 and 2014.[44] The city's increased presence within the cultural lexicon has established it as a popular city for young people, and it was second only to Louisville, Kentucky as one of the cities to attract and retain the highest number of college-educated people in the United States.[45] Between 2001 and 2012, Portland's gross domestic product per person grew fifty percent, more than any other city in the country.[45]

The city has acquired a diverse range of nicknames throughout its history, though it is most often called "Rose City" or "The City of Roses",[46] the latter of which has been its unofficial nickname since 1888 and its official nickname since 2003.[47] Another widely used nickname by local residents in everyday speech is "PDX", which is also the airport code for Portland International Airport. Other nicknames include Bridgetown,[48] Stumptown,[49] Rip City,[50] Soccer City,[51][52][53] P-Town,[47][54] Portlandia, and the more antiquated Little Beirut.[55]



Portland lies on top of an extinct volcanic field known as the Boring Lava Field, named after the nearby bedroom community of Boring.[56] The Boring Lava Field has at least 32 cinder cones such as Mount Tabor,[57] and its center lies in southeast Portland. Mount St. Helens, a highly active volcano 50 miles (80 km) northeast of the city in Washington state, is easily visible on clear days and is close enough to have dusted the city with volcanic ash after its eruption on May 18, 1980.[58] The rocks of the Portland area range in age from late Eocene to more recent eras.[59]

Multiple shallow, active fault lines traverse the Portland metropolitan area.[60] Among them are the Portland Hills Fault on the city's west side,[61] and the East Bank Fault on the east side.[62] According to a 2017 survey, several of these faults were characterized as "probably more of a hazard" than the Cascadia subduction zone due to their proximities to population centers, with the potential of producing magnitude 7 earthquakes.[60] Notable earthquakes that have impacted the Portland area in recent history include the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake in 2001, and a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that struck on March 25, 1993.[63][64]

Per a 2014 report, over 7,000 locations within the Portland area are at high-risk for landslides and soil liquefaction in the event of a major earthquake, including much of the city's west side (such as Washington Park) and sections of Clackamas County.[65]


Portland is 60 miles (97 km) east of the Pacific Ocean at the northern end of Oregon's most populated region, the Willamette Valley. Downtown Portland straddles the banks of the Willamette River, which flows north through the city center and separates the city's east and west neighborhoods. Less than 10 miles (16 km) from downtown, the Willamette River flows into the Columbia River, the fourth-largest river in the United States, which divides Oregon from Washington state. Portland is approximately 100 miles (160 km) upriver from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia.

Though much of downtown Portland is relatively flat, the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains, more commonly referred to locally as the "West Hills", pierce through the northwest and southwest reaches of the city. Council Crest Park, commonly thought of as the highest point within city limits, is in the West Hills and rises to an elevation of 1,073 feet (327 m) The city's actual high point is a little-known and infrequently accessed point of 1,180 feet (360 m) near Forest Park.[66] The highest point east of the river is Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcanic cinder cone, which rises to 636 feet (194 m). Nearby Powell Butte and Rocky Butte rise to 614 feet (187 m) and 612 feet (187 m), respectively. To the west of the Tualatin Mountains lies the Oregon Coast Range, and to the east lies the actively volcanic Cascade Range. On clear days, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens dominate the horizon, while Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier can also be seen in the distance.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 145.09 square miles (375.78 km2), of which 133.43 square miles (345.58 km2) is land and 11.66 square miles (30.20 km2) is water.[3] Although almost all of Portland is within Multnomah County, small portions of the city are within Clackamas and Washington Counties, with populations estimated at 785 and 1,455, respectively.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Portland has a temperate oceanic climate with cool and cloudy winters, and warm and dry summers. [67] This climate is characterized by having overcast, wet, and changing weather conditions in fall, winter, and spring, as Portland lies in the direct path of the stormy westerly flow, and mild and dry summers when the Pacific High reaches in northernmost point in mid summer.[68] Of the three most populated cities within the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland) Portland has the warmest average temperature, the highest number of sunshine hours, and the fewest inches of rainfall and snowfall, although the city still is frequently overcast compared to other US cities at the same latitude.[69] According to the Köppen climate classification, Portland falls within the dry-summer temperate zone (Csb).[68][70] with a USDA Plant Hardiness Zones between 8b and 9a.[71] Other climate systems, such as the Trewartha climate classification, places it within the oceanic zone (Do), like much of the Pacific Northwest and Western Europe.[72]

Winters are cool, cloudy, and rainy. The coldest month is December with an average daily high of 45.6 °F (7.6 °C), although overnight lows usually remain above freezing by a few degrees. Evening temperatures fall to or below freezing 33 nights per year on average, but very rarely to or below 18 °F (−8 °C). There are only 2.1 days per year where the daytime high temperature fails to rise above freezing. The lowest overnight temperature ever recorded was −3 °F (−19 °C),[73] on February 2, 1950,[74] while the coldest daytime high temperature ever recorded was 14 °F (−10 °C) on December 30, 1968.[74] The average window for freezing temperatures to potentially occur is between November 15 and March 19, allowing a growing season of 240 days.[74]

Annual snowfall in Portland is 4.3 inches (10.9 cm), which usually falls during the December to March time frame. .[75] The city of Portland avoids snow more frequently than its suburbs, due in part to its low elevation and urban heat island effect. Neighborhoods outside of the downtown core, especially in slightly higher elevations near the West Hills and Mount Tabor, can experience a dusting of snow while downtown receives no accumulation at all. The city has experienced a few major snow and ice storms in its past with extreme totals having reached 44.5 in (113 cm) at the airport in 1949–50 and 60.9 in (155 cm) at downtown in 1892–93.[76][77]

Summers in Portland are warm, dry, and sunny, though the sunny warm weather is short lived from mid June through early September.[78] The months of June, July, August and September account for a combined 4.49 inches (114 mm) of total rainfall  only 12% of the 36.03 in (915 mm) of the precipitation that falls throughout the year. The warmest month is August, with an average high temperature of 81.1 °F (27.3 °C). Because of its inland location 70 miles (110 km) from the coast, as well as the protective nature of the Oregon Coast Range to its west, Portland summers are less susceptible to the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Consequently, Portland experiences heat waves on rare occasion, with temperatures rising into the 90 °F (32 °C) for a few days. However, on average, temperatures reach or exceed 80 °F (27 °C) on only 56 days per year, of which 12 days will reach 90 °F (32 °C) and only 1.4 days will reach 100 °F (38 °C). The most 90-degree days ever recorded in one year is 31, which happened recently in 2018.[79] The highest temperature ever recorded was 107 °F (42 °C),[73] on July 30, 1965, as well as August 8 and 10, 1981.[74] The warmest recorded overnight low was 74 °F (23 °C) on July 28, 2009.[74] A temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) has been recorded in all five months from May through September.

Spring and fall can bring variable weather including warm fronts that send temperatures surging above 80 °F (27 °C) and cold snaps that plunge daytime temperatures into the 40s °F (4–9 °C). However, lengthy stretches of overcast days beginning in mid fall and continuing into mid spring are most common. Rain often falls as a light drizzle for several consecutive days at a time, contributing to 155 days on average with measurable (≥0.01 in or 0.25 mm) precipitation annually. Temperatures have reached 90 °F (32 °C) as early as May 3 and as late as October 5, while 80 °F (27 °C) has been reached as early as April 1 and as late as October 21. Severe weather, such as thunder and lightning, is uncommon and tornadoes are exceptionally rare.[80][81]

Climate data for Portland, Oregon (PDX), 1981–2010 normals,[lower-alpha 2] extremes 1940–present[lower-alpha 3]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Mean maximum °F (°C) 58.4
Average high °F (°C) 47.0
Average low °F (°C) 35.8
Mean minimum °F (°C) 24.6
Record low °F (°C) −2
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.88
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 18.0 14.9 17.6 16.4 13.6 9.2 4.1 3.9 6.7 12.5 19.0 18.6 154.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.7 1.5 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 1.5 4.4
Average relative humidity (%) 80.9 78.0 74.6 71.6 68.7 65.8 62.8 64.8 69.4 77.9 81.5 82.7 73.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 85.6 116.4 191.1 221.1 276.1 290.2 331.9 298.1 235.7 151.7 79.3 63.7 2,340.9
Percent possible sunshine 30 40 52 54 60 62 70 68 63 45 28 23 52
Average ultraviolet index 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 7 5 3 2 1 4
Source #1: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[74][83][84]
Source #2: Weather Atlas [85] (UV index)


Portland's cityscape derives much of its character from the many bridges that span the Willamette River downtown, several of which are historic landmarks, and Portland has been nicknamed "Bridgetown" for many decades as a result.[48] Three of downtown's most heavily used bridges are more than 100 years old and are designated historic landmarks: Hawthorne Bridge (1910), Steel Bridge (1912), and Broadway Bridge (1913). Portland's newest bridge in the downtown area, Tilikum Crossing, opened in 2015 and is the first new bridge to span the Willamette in Portland since the 1973 opening of the double-decker Fremont Bridge.

Other bridges that span the Willamette river in the downtown area include the Burnside Bridge, the Ross Island Bridge (both built 1926), and the double-decker Marquam Bridge (built 1966). Other bridges outside the downtown area include the Sellwood Bridge (built 2016) to the south; and the St. Johns Bridge, a Gothic revival suspension bridge built in 1931, to the north. The Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge and the Interstate Bridge provide access from Portland across the Columbia River into Washington state.

Panorama of downtown Portland in the day. Hawthorne Bridge viewed from a dock on the Willamette River near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Panorama of downtown Portland at night. View from SE Portland across the Willamette River.
The Willamette River runs through the center of the city, while Mount Tabor (center) rises on the city's east side. Mount St. Helens (left) and Mount Hood (right center) are visible from many places in the city.


The Willamette River, which flows north through downtown, serves as the natural boundary between east and west Portland. The denser and earlier-developed west side extends into the lap of the West Hills, while the flatter east side fans out for roughly 180 blocks until it meets the suburb of Gresham. In 1891 the cities of Portland, Albina, and East Portland were consolidated, creating inconsistent patterns of street names and addresses. The "great renumbering" on September 2, 1931 standardized street naming patterns, divided Portland into five official quadrants, and changed house numbers from 20 per block to 100 per block.[86]

The five current addressing sections of Portland, which are known as quadrants despite there being five,[87][88] have developed distinctive identities, with mild cultural differences and friendly rivalries between their residents, especially between those who live east of the Willamette River versus west of the river.[89] Portland's addressing sections are North, Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest (which includes downtown Portland). The Willamette River divides the city into east and west while Burnside Street, which traverses the entire city lengthwise, divides the north and south. North Portland consists of the peninsula formed by the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, with N Williams Ave serving as its eastern boundary. All addresses and streets within the city are prefixed by N, NW, NE, SW or SE with the exception of Burnside Street, which is prefixed with W or E. Starting in May 2020, South Portland neighborhood addresses with house numbers leading with zero will drop the zero and the street prefix will convert to South from Southwest. For example, the current address 0246 SW California St. will become 246 S. California St. effective May 2020.

A new South Portland section, officially approved by the Portland City Council on June 6, 2018,[90] is bounded by SW Naito Parkway and SW View Point Terrace to the west, SW Clay Street to the north and the Clackamas County line to the south. In 2018, the city's Bureau of Transportation finalized a plan to transition this part of Portland into South Portland, beginning in May 2020 and to be completed by May 2025, to reduce confusions by 9-1-1 dispatchers and delivery services.[91]

The Pearl District in Northwest Portland, which was largely occupied by warehouses, light industry and railroad classification yards in the early to mid-20th century, now houses upscale art galleries, restaurants, and retail stores, and is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.[92] Areas further west of the Pearl District include neighborhoods known as Uptown and Nob Hill, as well as the Alphabet District and NW 23rd Ave., a major shopping street lined with clothing boutiques and other upscale retail, mixed with cafes and restaurants.[93]

Northeast Portland is home to the Lloyd District, Alberta Arts District, and the Hollywood District.

North Portland is largely residential and industrial. It contains Kelley Point Park, the northernmost point of the city. It also contains the St. Johns neighborhood, which is historically one of the most ethnically diverse and poorest neighborhoods in the city.[94]

Old Town Chinatown is next to the Pearl District in Northwest Portland. In 2017, the crime rate was several times above the city average. This neighborhood has been called Portland's skid row.[95] Southwest Portland is largely residential. Downtown district, made up of commercial businesses, museums, skyscrapers, and public landmarks represents a small area within the southwest address section. Portland's South Waterfront area has been developing into a dense neighborhood of shops, condominiums, and apartments starting in the mid-2000s. Development in this area is ongoing.[96] The area is served by the Portland Streetcar, the MAX Orange Line and four TriMet bus lines. This former industrial area sat as a brownfield prior to development in the mid-2000s.[97]

Southeast Portland is largely residential, and consists of the Hawthorne District, Belmont, Brooklyn, and Mount Tabor.


Historical population
Est. 2018653,115[7]11.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[98]
Demographic profile2010[99]1990[100]1970[100]1940[100]
 Non-Hispanic whites72.2%82.9%90.7%[101]
Black or African American6.3%7.7%5.6%0.6%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)9.4%3.2%1.7%[101]

The 2010 census reported the city as 76.1% White (444,254 people), 7.1% Asian (41,448), 6.3% Black or African American (36,778), 1.0% Native American (5,838), 0.5% Pacific Islander (2,919), 4.7% belonging to two or more racial groups (24,437) and 5.0% from other races (28,987).[99] 9.4% were Hispanic or Latino, of any race (54,840). Whites not of Hispanic origin made up 72.2% of the total population.[99]

In 1940, Portland's African-American population was approximately 2,000 and largely consisted of railroad employees and their families.[102] 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 Albina district and Vanport. The May 1948 flood which destroyed Vanport eliminated the only integrated neighborhood, and an influx of blacks into the northeast quadrant of the city continued.[102] Portland's longshoremen racial mix was described as being "lily-white" in the 1960s, when the local International Longshore and Warehouse Union declined to represent grain handlers since some were black.[103]

At 6.3%, Portland's African American population is three times the state average. Over two thirds of Oregon's African-American residents live in Portland.[102] 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 87% 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 31% at Roosevelt.[104]

Portland residents identifying solely as Asian Americans account for 7.1% of the population; an additional 1.8% is partially of Asian heritage. Vietnamese Americans make up 2.2% of Portland's population, and make up the largest Asian ethnic group in the city, followed by Chinese (1.7%), Filipinos (0.6%), Japanese (0.5%), Koreans (0.4%), Laotians (0.4%), Hmong (0.2%), and Cambodians (0.1%).[106] A small population of Yao people live in Portland. Portland has two Chinatowns, with New Chinatown along SE 82nd Avenue with Chinese supermarkets, Hong Kong style noodle houses, dim sum, and Vietnamese phở restaurants.[107]

With about 12,000 Vietnamese residing in the city proper, Portland has one of the largest Vietnamese populations in America per capita.[108] According to statistics there are 21,000 Pacific Islanders in Portland, making up 4% of the population.[109]

Portland's population has been and remains predominantly white. In 1940, whites were over 98% of the city's population.[110] In 2009, Portland had the fifth-highest percentage of white residents among the 40 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. A 2007 survey of the 40 largest cities in the U.S. concluded Portland's urban core has the highest percentage of white residents.[111] Some scholars have noted the Pacific Northwest as a whole is "one of the last Caucasian bastions of the United States".[112] While Portland's diversity was historically comparable to metro Seattle and Salt Lake City, those areas grew more diverse in the late 1990s and 2000s. Portland not only remains white, but migration to Portland is disproportionately white.[111][113]

The Oregon Territory banned African American settlement in 1849. In the 19th century, certain laws allowed the immigration of Chinese laborers but prohibited them from owning property or bringing their families.[111][114][115] The early 1920s saw the rapid growth of the Ku Klux Klan, which became very influential in Oregon politics, culminating in the election of Walter M. Pierce as governor.[114][115][116]

The largest influxes of minority populations occurred during World War II, as the African American population grew by a factor of 10 for wartime work.[111] After World War II, the Vanport flood in 1948 displaced many African Americans. As they resettled, redlining directed the displaced workers from the wartime settlement to neighboring Albina.[112][115][117] There and elsewhere in Portland, they experienced police hostility, lack of employment, and mortgage discrimination, leading to half the black population leaving after the war.[111]

In the 1980s and 1990s, radical skinhead groups flourished in Portland.[115] In 1988, Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant, was killed by three skinheads. The response to his murder involved a community-driven series of rallies, campaigns, nonprofits and events designed to address Portland's racial history, leading to a city considered significantly more tolerant than in 1988 at Seraw's death.[118]


As of the 2010 census, there are 583,776 people residing in the city, organized into 235,508 households. The population density is 4,375.2 people per square mile. There are 265,439 housing units at an average density of 1989.4 per square mile (1,236.3/km²). Population growth in Portland increased 10.3% between 2000 and 2010.[119] Population growth in the Portland metropolitan area has outpaced the national average during the last decade, and this is expected to continue over the next 50 years.[120]

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. According to the Modern Language Association, in 2010 80.92% (539,885) percent of Multnomah County residents ages 5 and over spoke English as their primary language at home.[121] 8.10% of the population spoke Spanish (54,036), with Vietnamese speakers making up 1.94%, and Russian 1.46%.[121]


The Portland metropolitan area has historically had a significant LGBT population throughout the late 20th and 21st century.[123][124] In 2015, the city metro had the second highest percentage of LGBT residents in the United States with 5.4% of residents identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, second only to San Francisco.[125] In 2006, it was reported to have the seventh highest LGBT population in the country, with 8.8% of residents identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and the metro ranking fourth in the nation at 6.1%.[126] The city held its first pride festival in 1975 on the Portland State University campus.[127]

Portland has been cited as the least religious city in the United States,[128] with over 42% of residents identifying as religiously "unaffiliated",[129] according to the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute's American Values Atlas.[130] Of the 35.89% of the city's residents who do identify as religious, Roman Catholics make up the largest group, at 15.8%.[122] The second highest religious group in the city are Evangelical Christians at 6.04%, with Baptists following behind at 2.5%. Latter Day Saints make up 2.3% of the city's religiously affiliated population, with Lutheran and Pentecostal following behind.[122] 1.48% of religiously affiliated persons identified themselves as following Eastern religions, while 0.86% of the religiously affiliated population identified as Jewish, and 0.29% as Muslim.[122]


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.[131] The U.S. 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.[132] In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS MoneyWatch.[133][134]

The city's marine terminals alone handle over 13 million tons of cargo per year, and the port is home to one of the largest commercial dry docks in the country.[135][136] The Port of Portland is the third-largest export tonnage port on the west coast of the U.S., and being about 80 miles (130 km) upriver, it is the largest fresh-water port.[131] The city of Portland is the largest shipper of wheat in the United States,[137][138] and is the second-largest port for wheat in the world.[139]

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. Other heavy industry companies include ESCO Corporation and Oregon Steel Mills.[140][141]

Technology is a major component of the city's economy, with more than 1,200 technology companies existing within the metro.[131] This high density of technology companies has led to the nickname Silicon Forest being used to describe the Portland area, a reference to the abundance of trees in the region and to the Silicon Valley region in Northern California.[142] The area also hosts facilities for software companies and online startup companies, some supported by local seed funding organizations and business incubators.[143] Computer components manufacturer Intel is the Portland area's largest employer, providing jobs for more than 15,000 people, with several campuses to the west of central Portland in the city of Hillsboro.[131]

The Portland metro area has become a business cluster for athletic/outdoor gear and footwear manufacturers.[144] The area is home to the global, North American or U.S. headquarters of Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, LaCrosse Footwear, Dr. Martens, Li-Ning,[145] Keen,[146], and Hi-Tec Sports.[147] While headquartered elsewhere, Merrell, Amer Sports and Under Armour have design studios and local offices in the Portland area. Portland-based Precision Castparts is one of two Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Oregon, the other being Nike. Other notable Portland-based companies include film animation studio Laika; commercial vehicle manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America; advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy; bankers Umpqua Holdings; and retailers Fred Meyer, New Seasons Market and Storables.

Breweries are another major industry in Portland, which is home to 139 breweries/microbreweries, the 7th most in the nation, as of December 2018.[148] Additionally, the city boasts a robust coffee culture that now rivals Seattle and hosts over 20 coffee roasters.[149]


In 2016, home prices in Portland grew faster than in any other city in the United States.[150] Apartment rental costs in the Portland metro area are now equal to those in other major cities such as San Diego, Boston, Miami, Seattle, and Los Angeles with the average one bedroom costing between $1,300 and $1,950 per month.[151] New sky rise apartment building and condo complexes have changed the skyline of the city, adding over 16,000 new units since 2010.


Music, film, and performing arts

Portland is home to a range of classical performing arts institutions, including the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony, and the Portland Youth Philharmonic; the latter, established in 1924, was the first youth orchestra established in the United States.[152] The city is also home to several theaters and performing arts institutions, including the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Northwest Children's Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Miracle Theatre, and Tears of Joy Theatre.

In 2013, the Guardian named the city's music scene as one of the "most vibrant" in the United States.[153] Portland is home to famous bands such as the Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders, both famous for their association with the song "Louie Louie" (1963).[154] Other widely known musical groups include the Dandy Warhols, Quarterflash, Everclear, Pink Martini, The Hugs, Sleater-Kinney, the Shins, Blitzen Trapper, the Decemberists, and the late Elliott Smith. In the 1980s, the city was home to a burgeoning punk scene, which included bands such as the Wipers and Dead Moon.[155] The city's now-demolished Satyricon nightclub was a punk venue notorious for being the place where Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain first encountered future wife and Hole frontwoman Courtney Love in 1990.[156] Love was then a resident of Portland and started several bands there with Kat Bjelland, later of Babes in Toyland.[157][158] Multi-Grammy award-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding is from Portland and performed with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at a young age.[159]

A wide range of films have been shot in Portland, from various independent features to major big-budget productions (see List of films shot in Oregon for a complete list). Director Gus Van Sant has notably set and shot many of his films in the city.[160] The city has also been featured in various television programs, notably the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia. The series, which ran for eight seasons from 2011 to 2018,[161] was shot on location in Portland, and satirized the city as a hub of liberal politics, organic food, alternative lifestyles, and anti-establishment attitudes.[162] MTV's long-time running reality show The Real World was also shot in Portland for the show's 29th season: The Real World: Portland premiered on MTV in 2013.[163] Other television series shot in the city include Leverage, The Librarians,[164] Under Suspicion, Grimm, and Nowhere Man.[165]

An unusual feature of Portland entertainment is the large number of movie theaters serving beer, often with second-run or revival films.[166] Notable examples of these "brew and view" theaters include the Bagdad Theater and Pub, a former vaudeville theater built in 1927 by Universal Studios;[167] Cinema 21; and the Laurelhurst Theater, in operation since 1923. Portland hosts the world's longest-running H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival[168] at the Hollywood Theatre.[169]

The Art Deco-styled Laurelhurst Theater in the Kerns neighborhood was opened in 1923.
Avalon Theatre in the Belmont neighborhood plays second-run films.
The Moreland Theater in the Westmoreland neighborhood
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest premiered at the Bagdad Theater in 1975.

Museums and recreation

Portland is home to numerous museums and educational institutions, ranging from art museums to institutions devoted to science and wildlife. Among the science-oriented institutions are the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), which consists of five main halls and other ticketed attractions, such as the USS Blueback submarine,[170] the ultra-large-screen Empirical Theater (which replaced an OMNIMAX theater in 2013),[171] and the Kendall Planetarium.[172] The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, located in the city's Washington Park area, offers educational exhibits on forests and forest-related subjects. Also located in Washington Park are the Hoyt Arboretum, the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Oregon Zoo.[173]

The Portland Art Museum 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' 25 largest museums. Other museums include the Portland Children's Museum, a museum specifically geared for early childhood development; and the Oregon Historical Society Museum, founded in 1898, which has a variety of books, film, pictures, artifacts, and maps dating back throughout Oregon's history. It houses permanent and temporary exhibits about Oregon history, and hosts traveling exhibits about the history of the United States.[174]

Oaks Amusement Park, in the Sellwood district of Southeast Portland, is the city's only amusement park and is also one of the country's longest-running amusement parks. It has operated since 1905 and was known as the "Coney Island of the Northwest" upon its opening.[175]

Cuisine and breweries

Portland has been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications and news outlets, including the U.S. News & World Report and CNN.[176][177] Food carts are extremely popular within the city, with over 600 licensed carts, making Portland one of the most robust street food scenes in North America.[178][179] In 2014, the Washington Post called Portland the fourth best city for food in the United States.[180] Travel + Leisure ranked Portland's food and bar scene No. 5 in the nation in 2012.[181][182] Portland is also known as a leader in specialty coffee.[183][184][185] The city is home to Stumptown Coffee Roasters as well as dozens of other micro-roasteries and cafes.[186]

It is frequently claimed that Portland has the most breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world,[187][188][189][190][191] with 58 active breweries within city limits[192] and 70+ within the surrounding metro area.[192] However, data compiled by the Brewers Association ranks Portland seventh in the United States as of 2018.[193] The city receives frequent acclaim as the best beer city in the United States and is consistently ranked as one of the top-five beer destinations in the world.[194] Portland has played a prominent role in the microbrewery revolution in the U.S. and is nicknamed "Beertown" and "Beervana" as a result.[195][196][197] The McMenamin brothers alone have over thirty brewpubs, distilleries, and wineries scattered throughout the metropolitan area, several in renovated cinemas and other historically significant buildings otherwise destined for demolition. Other notable Portland brewers include Widmer Brothers, BridgePort, Portland Brewing, Hair of the Dog, and Hopworks Urban Brewery.

Portland hosts a number of festivals throughout the year that celebrate beer and brewing, including the Oregon Brewers Festival, held in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. 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.[198] 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,[199] and the Holiday Ale Festival in December.


Portland is often awarded "Greenest City in America" and similar designations. Popular Science awarded Portland the title of the Greenest City in America in 2008,[200] and Grist magazine listed it in 2007 as the second greenest city in the world.[201] The city became a pioneer of state-directed metropolitan planning, a program which was instituted statewide in 1969 to compact the urban growth boundaries of the city.[202]


Portland is home to three major league sports franchises: the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA, the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, and the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League. In 2015, the Timbers won the MLS Cup, which was the first male professional sports championship for a team from Portland since the Trail Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977.[203] Despite being the 19th most populated metro area in the United States, Portland contains only one franchise from the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB, making it America's most populated metro area with that distinction. The city has been often rumored to receive an additional franchise, although efforts to acquire a team have failed due to stadium funding issues.[204] An organization known as the Portland Diamond Project (PDP)[205] has worked with the MLB and local government, and there are plans to have an MLB stadium constructed in the industrial district of Portland.[206] The PDP has not yet received the funding for this project.

Portland sports fans are characterized by their passionate support. The Trail Blazers sold out every home game between 1977 and 1995, a span of 814 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in American sports history.[207] The Timbers joined MLS in 2011 and have sold out every home match since joining the league, a streak that has now reached 70+ matches.[208] The Timbers season ticket waiting list has reached 10,000+, the longest waiting list in MLS.[209] In 2015, they became the first team in the Northwest to win the MLS Cup. Player Diego Valeri marked a new record for fastest goal in MLS Cup history at 27 seconds into the game.[210]

Two rival universities exist within Portland city limits: the University of Portland Pilots and the Portland State University Vikings, both of whom field teams in popular spectator sports including soccer, baseball, and basketball. Portland State also has a football team. Additionally, the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers both receive substantial attention and support from many Portland residents, despite their campuses being 110 and 84 miles from the city, respectively.[211]

Running is a popular activity in Portland, and every year the city hosts the Portland Marathon as well as parts of the Hood to Coast Relay, the world's largest long-distance relay race (by number of participants). Portland serves as the center to an elite running group, the Nike Oregon Project, and is the residence of several elite runners including British 2012 Olympic 10,000m and 5,000m champion Mo Farah, American record holder at 10,000m Galen Rupp, and 2008 American Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000m Shalane Flanagan.

Historic Erv Lind Stadium is located in Normandale Park.[212] It has been home to professional and college softball.

Portland also hosts numerous cycling events and has become an elite bicycle racing destination. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association supports hundreds of official bicycling events every year. Weekly events at Alpenrose Velodrome and Portland International Raceway allow for racing nearly every night of the week from March through September. Cyclocross races, such as the Cross Crusade, can attract over 1,000 riders and spectators.

Portland area sports teams
Club Sport League Championships Venue Founded Attendance
Portland Thorns FC Women's soccer National Women's Soccer League 2 (2013, 2017) Providence Park 2012 16,945
Portland Timbers Soccer Major League Soccer 1 (2015) Providence Park 2009 21,144
Portland Timbers 2 Soccer USL 0 Merlo Field 2014 1,740
Portland Timbers U23s Soccer Premier Development League 1 (2010) Providence Park 2008
Portland Trail Blazers Basketball National Basketball Association 1 (1976–77) Moda Center 1970 19,317
Portland Winterhawks Ice hockey Western Hockey League 2 (1982–83, 1997–98) Moda Center 1976 6,080

Parks and gardens

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.[213] Ten years later, more than 8,100 acres (33 km2) of ecologically valuable natural areas had been purchased and permanently protected from development.[214]

Portland is one of only four cities in the U.S. with extinct volcanoes within its boundaries (along with Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon, Jackson Volcano in Jackson, Mississippi, and Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii). Mount Tabor Park is known for its scenic views and historic reservoirs.[215]

Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, covering more than 5,000 acres (2,023 ha).[216] Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park (a two-foot-diameter circle, the park's area is only about 0.3 m2). Washington Park is just west of downtown and is home to the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. Portland is also home to Lan Su Chinese Garden (formerly the Portland Classical Chinese Garden), an authentic representation of a Suzhou-style walled garden. Portland's east side has several formal public gardens: the historic Peninsula Park Rose Garden, the rose gardens of Ladd's Addition, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, the Leach Botanical Garden, and The Grotto.

Portland's downtown features two groups of contiguous city blocks dedicated for park space: the North and South Park Blocks.[217][218] The 37-acre (15 ha) Tom McCall Waterfront Park was built in 1974 along the length of the downtown waterfront after Harbor Drive was removed; it now hosts large events throughout the year.[219] The nearby historically significant Burnside Skatepark and five indoor skateparks give Portland a reputation as possibly "the most skateboard-friendly town in America."[220]

Tryon Creek State Natural Area 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 Site, in the West Hills, and the Government Island State Recreation Area in the Columbia River near Portland International Airport.

Portland's city park system has been proclaimed one of the best in America. In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, the Trust for Public Land reported Portland had the seventh best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.[221] ParkScore ranks city park systems by a formula that analyzes the city's median park size, park acres as percent of city area, the percent of city residents within a half-mile of a park, spending of park services per resident, and the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents. The survey revealed that 80% of Portlanders live within a half-mile of a park, and over 16% of Portland's city area is parkland.

Holly Farm Park is a relatively new park in Portland. After it was acquired in 2003 by Portland Parks & Recreation the land was developed into a park by 2007.
Located in Downtown Portland, Keller Fountain Park is named for Portland Development Commission chairwoman Ira Keller.
The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden that opened in 1967.
Cathedral Park, under the St. Johns Bridge, hosts an annual jazz music festival.
Named in honor of Oregon's governor Tom McCall in 1984, the park opened in 1978. It hosts several annual events, including the Waterfront Blues Festival and the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Originally built as the private residence of The Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock, the grounds of Pittock Mansion are a public park.

Law and government

The city of Portland is governed by the Portland City Council, which includes the Mayor, 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. Portland is the only large city left in the United States with the commission form of government.[222]

The city's Community & Civic Life (formerly Office of Neighborhood Involvement)[224] serves as a conduit between city government and Portland's 95 officially recognized neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is represented by a volunteer-based neighborhood association which serves as a liaison between residents of the neighborhood and the city government. The city provides funding to neighborhood associations through seven district coalitions, each of which is a geographical grouping of several neighborhood associations. Most (but not all) neighborhood associations belong to one of these district coalitions.

Portland and its surrounding metropolitan area are served by Metro, the United States' only directly elected metropolitan planning organization. Metro's charter gives it responsibility for land use and transportation planning, solid waste management, and map development. Metro also owns and operates the Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Zoo, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, and Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center.

The Multnomah County government provides many services to the Portland area, as do Washington and Clackamas counties to the west and south.

Law enforcement is provided by the Portland Police Bureau. Fire and emergency services are provided by Portland Fire & Rescue.


Portland is a territorial charter city, and strongly favors the Democratic Party. All city offices are non-partisan.[225]

Portland's delegation to the Oregon Legislative Assembly is entirely Democratic. In the current 76th Oregon Legislative Assembly, which first convened in 2011, four state Senators represent Portland in the state Senate: Diane Rosenbaum (District 21), Chip Shields (District 22), Jackie Dingfelder (District 23), and Rod Monroe (District 24). Portland sends six Representatives to the state House of Representatives: Jules Bailey (District 42), Lew Frederick (District 43), Tina Kotek (District 44), Michael Dembrow (District 45), Alissa Keny-Guyer (District 46), and Jefferson Smith (District 47).

Portland is split among three U.S. 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 Suzanne Bonamici. A small portion of southwestern Portland is in the 5th District, represented by Kurt Schrader. All three are Democrats; a Republican has not represented a significant portion of Portland in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1975. Both of Oregon's senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are from Portland and are also both Democrats.

In the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidate Barack Obama easily carried Portland, winning 245,464 votes from city residents to 50,614 for his Republican rival, John McCain. In the 2012 presidential election, Democratic candidate Barack Obama again easily carried Portland, winning 256,925 votes from Multnomah county residents to 70,958 for his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.[226]

Sam Adams, the former mayor of Portland, became the city's first openly gay mayor in 2009.[227] In 2004, 59.7 percent of Multnomah County voters cast ballots against Oregon Ballot Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages. The measure passed with 56.6% of the statewide vote. Multnomah County is one of two counties where a majority voted against the initiative; the other is Benton County, which includes Corvallis, home of Oregon State University.[228] On April 28, 2005, Portland became the only city in the nation to withdraw from a Joint Terrorism Task Force.[229][230] As of February 19, 2015, the Portland city council approved permanently staffing the JTTF with two of its city's police officers.[231]

Voter registration and party enrollment As of December 2015[232]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 197,133 54.03%
Republican 40,374 11.07%
Unaffiliated 95,561 26.19%
Libertarian 2,752 0.75%
Other 31,804 8.72%
Total 364,872 100%

Planning and development

The city consulted with urban planners as far back as 1904, resulting in the development of Washington Park and the 40-Mile Loop greenway, which interconnects many of the city's parks.[233] Portland is often cited as an example of a city with strong land use planning controls.[14] 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.[234][235][236][237][238]

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).[239] 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. 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.[240]

Oregon's 1973 "urban growth boundary" law limits the boundaries for large-scale development in each metropolitan area in Oregon.[241] This limits access to utilities such as sewage, water and telecommunications, as well as coverage by fire, police and schools.[241] Originally this law mandated the city must maintain enough land within the boundary to provide an estimated 20 years of growth; however, in 2007 the legislature changed 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.[120] The growth boundary, along with efforts of the Portland Development Commission 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, and an overall increase in housing and business density.[242]

Prosper Portland (formerly Portland Development Commission) is a semi-public agency that plays a major role in downtown development; city voters created it 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 Portland Development Commission led the razing of a large Italian-Jewish neighborhood downtown, bounded roughly by I-405, the Willamette River, 4th Avenue and Market street.[243] Mayor Neil Goldschmidt took office in 1972 as a proponent of bringing housing and the associated vitality back to the downtown area, which was seen as emptying out after 5 pm. The effort has had dramatic effects in the 30 years since, with many thousands of new housing units clustered in three areas: north of Portland State University (between I-405, 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.).

Historically, environmental consciousness has weighed significantly in the city's planning and development efforts.[246] Portland was one of the first cities in the United States to promote and integrate alternative forms of transportation, such as the MAX Light Rail and extensive bike paths.[246] 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.[247] In October 2009, the Portland City Council unanimously adopted a climate action plan that will cut the city's greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.[248] The city's longstanding efforts were recognized in a 2010 Reuters report, which named Portland the second-most environmentally conscious or "green" city in the world after Reykjavik, Iceland.[246]

As of 2012, Portland was the largest city in the United States that did not add fluoride to its public water supply,[249] and fluoridation has historically been a subject of controversy in the city.[250] Portland voters have four times voted against fluoridation, in 1956, 1962, 1980 (repealing a 1978 vote in favor), and 2013.[251] In 2012 the city council, responding to advocacy from public health organizations and others, voted unanimously to begin fluoridation by 2014. Fluoridation opponents forced a public vote on the issue,[252] and on May 21, 2013, city voters again rejected fluoridation.[253]

Free speech

Strong free speech protections of the Oregon Constitution upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court in State v. Henry,[254] specifically found that full nudity and lap dances in strip clubs are protected speech.[255] Portland has the highest number of strip clubs per-capita in a city in the United States, and Oregon ranks as the highest state for per-capita strip clubs.[256] In addition to its strip clubs and erotic massage parlors, the city also has a high rate of child sex trafficking.[257][258]

In November 2008, a Multnomah County judge dismissed charges against a nude bicyclist arrested on June 26, 2008. The judge stated that the city's annual World Naked Bike Rideheld each year in June since 2004has created a "well-established tradition" in Portland where cyclists may ride naked as a form of protest against cars and fossil fuel dependence.[259] The defendant was not riding in the official World Naked Bike Ride at the time of his arrest as it had occurred 12 days earlier that year, on June 14.[260]

A state law prohibiting publicly insulting a person in a way 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.[261]


According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report in 2009, Portland ranked 53rd in violent crime out of the top 75 U.S. cities with a population greater than 250,000.[262] The murder rate in Portland in 2013 averaged 2.3 murders per 100,000 people per year, which was lower than the national average. In October 2009, Forbes magazine rated Portland as the third safest city in America.[263][264] In 2011, 72% of arrested male subjects tested positive for illegal drugs and was dubbed the "deadliest drug market in the Pacific Northwest"[265]

In the Portland Metropolitan statistical area which includes Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties, OR and Clark and Skamania Counties, WA for 2017, murder rate was 2.6, violent crime was 283.2 per 100,000 people per year. In 2017, the population within the city of Portland was 649,408 and there were 24 murders and 3,349 violent crimes.[266]

Below is a sortable table containing violent crime data from each Portland neighborhood during the calendar year of 2014.


Primary and secondary education

Nine public school districts and many private schools serve Portland. Portland Public Schools is the largest school district, operating 85 public schools.[268] David Douglas High School, in the Powellhurst neighborhood, has the largest enrollment of any public high school in the city.[269] Other high schools include Benson, Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson, Madison, Parkrose, Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, and several suburban high schools which serve the city's outer areas. Established in 1869, Lincoln High School (formerly Portland High School) is the city's oldest public education institution, and is one of two of the oldest high schools west of the Mississippi River (after San Francisco's Lowell High School).[270]

Former public schools in the city included Washington High School, which operated from 1906 until 1981, as well as Adams and Jackson, which also closed the same year.

The area's private schools include The Northwest Academy, Portland Jewish Academy, Rosemary Anderson High School, Portland Adventist Academy, Portland Lutheran School, Trinity Academy, Catlin Gabel School, and Oregon Episcopal School.

The city and surrounding metropolitan area is also home to a large number of Roman Catholic-affiliated private schools, including St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls school; De La Salle North Catholic High School; the co-educational Jesuit High School; La Salle High School; and Central Catholic High School, the only archdiocesan high school in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland.

Higher education

Portland State University has the second-largest enrollment rate of any university in the state (after Oregon State University), with a student body of nearly 30,000.[271] It has been named among the top fifteen percentile of American universities by The Princeton Review for undergraduate education,[272] and has been internationally recognized for its degrees in Masters of Business Administration and urban planning.[273] The city is also home to the Oregon Health & Science University, as well as Portland Community College.

Notable private universities include the University of Portland, a Roman Catholic university affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross; Reed College, a liberal arts college, and Lewis & Clark College.

Other institutions of higher learning within the city are:


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

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 Tuesdays and Thursdays), Willamette Week (general-interest alternative weekly published on Wednesdays), The Portland Mercury (another alt-weekly, targeted at younger urban readers published every other Thursdays), The Asian Reporter (a weekly covering Asian news, both international and local) and The Skanner (a weekly African-American newspaper covering both local and national news).

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 until the end of 2011, was 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 105 years old, is another neighborhood newspaper serving the inner southeast neighborhoods.



Legacy Health, a non-profit healthcare system in Portland, operates multiple facilities in the city and surrounding suburbs.[274] These include Legacy Emanuel, founded in 1912, in Northeast Portland; and Legacy Good Samaritan, founded in 1875, and in Northwest Portland.[274] Randall's Children's Hospital operates at the Legacy Emanuel Campus. Good Samaritan has centers for breast health, cancer, and stroke, and is home to the Legacy Devers Eye Institute, the Legacy Obesity and Diabetes Institute, the Legacy Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, the Legacy Rehabilitation Clinic of Oregon, and the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing.[275]

The Catholic-affiliated Providence Health & Services operates Providence Portland Medical Center in the North Tabor neighborhood of the city. Oregon Health & Science University is a university hospital formed in 1974. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center operates next to the Oregon Health & Science University main campus. Adventist Medical Center also serves the city. Shriners Hospital for Children is a small children's hospital established in 1923.


MAX Light Rail is the centerpiece of the city's public transportation system.
Portland Streetcar is a three-line system serving downtown and nearby areas.

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 commuters have multiple well-developed options. In 2014, Travel + Leisure magazine rated Portland as the No. 1 most pedestrian and transit-friendly city in the United States.[276] A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Portland 12th most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.[277]

In 2008, 12.6% of all commutes in Portland were on public transit.[278] 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. The 1986-opened MAX system has expanded to five lines, with the latest being the Orange Line to Milwaukie, in service as of September 2015.[279] WES Commuter Rail opened in February 2009 in Portland's western suburbs, linking Beaverton and Wilsonville.

The city-owned Portland Streetcar serves two routes in the Central City – downtown and adjacent districts. The first line, which opened in 2001 and was extended in 2005–2007, operates from the South Waterfront District through Portland State University and north through the West End of downtown, to shopping areas and dense residential districts north and northwest of downtown. The second line that opened in 2012 added 3.3 miles (5.3 km) of tracks on the east side of the Willamette River and across the Broadway Bridge to a connection with the original line.[280] The east-side line completed a loop to the tracks on the west side of the river upon completion of the new Tilikum Crossing in 2015,[281] and, in anticipation of that, had been named the Central Loop line in 2012. However, it was renamed the Loop Service, with an A Loop (clockwise) and B Loop (counterclockwise), when it became a complete loop with the opening of the Tilikum Crossing bridge.

Fifth and Sixth avenues within downtown comprise the Portland Transit Mall, two streets devoted primarily to bus and light rail traffic with limited automobile access. Opened in 1977 for buses, the transit mall was renovated and rebuilt in 2007–09, with light rail added. Starting in 1975 and lasting nearly four decades, all transit service within downtown Portland was free, the area being known by TriMet as Fareless Square, but a need for minor budget cuts and funding needed for expansion prompted the agency to limit free rides to rail service only in 2010,[282] and subsequently to discontinue the fare-free zone entirely in 2012.[283]

TriMet provides real-time tracking of buses and trains with its TransitTracker, and makes the data available to software developers so they can create customized tools of their own.[284][285]

I-5 connects Portland with the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, and California to the south and with Washington 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 Airport. U.S. 26 supports commuting within the metro area and continues to the Pacific Ocean westward and Mount Hood and Central Oregon eastward. U.S. 30 has a main, bypass, and business route through the city extending to Astoria to the west; through Gresham, Oregon, and the eastern exurbs, and connects to I-84, traveling towards Boise, Idaho. Portland ranked 13th in traffic congestion of all American cities. By 2018, it ranked 10th[286][287]

Portland's main airport is Portland International Airport, about 20 minutes by car (40 minutes by MAX) northeast of downtown. Portland's airport has been named the best US airport for seven consecutive years (2013–2019).[288] Portland is also home to Oregon's only public use heliport, the Portland Downtown Heliport. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Portland at Union Station on three routes. Long-haul train routes include the Coast Starlight (with service from Los Angeles to Seattle) and the Empire Builder (with service to Chicago). The Amtrak Cascades state-supported trains operate between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Oregon, and serve Portland several times daily. The city is also served by Greyhound Lines intercity bus service, which also operates BoltBus, an express bus service. The bus depot is about one block from the Portland Union Station. The city's first airport was the Swan Island Municipal Airport, which was closed in the 1940s.

Portland is the only city in the United States that owns operating mainline steam locomotives, donated to the city in 1958 by the railroads that ran them.[289] Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700 and the world-famous Southern Pacific 4449 can be seen several times a year pulling a special excursion train, either locally or on an extended trip. The "Holiday Express", pulled over the tracks of the Oregon Pacific Railroad on weekends in December, has become a Portland tradition over its several years running.[290] These trains and others are operated by volunteers of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, an amalgamation of rail preservation groups which collaborated on the finance and construction of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, a permanent and publicly accessible home for the locomotives, which opened in 2012 adjacent to OMSI.[291]

In Portland, cycling is a significant mode of transportation. As the city has been particularly supportive of urban bicycling it now ranks highly among the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world.[292] Bicycles accounted for 6.3% of commuting in 2017.[293] For its achievements in promoting cycling as an everyday means of transportation, Portland has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists and other cycling organizations for its network of on-street bicycling facilities and other bicycle-friendly services, being one of only three U.S. cities to have earned a Platinum-level rating.[294] A new bicycle-sharing system, Biketown, launched on July 19, 2016,[295] with 100 stations in the city's central and eastside neighborhoods.[296] The bikes were provided by Social Bicycles, and the system is operated by Motivate.

Car sharing through Zipcar, Getaround, and Uhaul Car Share is available to residents of the city and some inner suburbs. Portland has a commuter aerial cableway, the Portland Aerial Tram, which connects the South Waterfront district on the Willamette River to the Oregon Health & Science University campus on Marquam Hill above.

Notable people

See List of people from Portland, Oregon

Sister cities

Portland has ten sister cities;[297][298] each city is required to maintain long-term involvement and participation:[299][300]

Sister Cities of Portland
City Image Country Date References
Sapporo  Japan November 17, 1959 [301]
 Guadalajara  Mexico September 23, 1983 [302][303]
 Ashkelon  Israel October 13, 1987 [304]
Ulsan  South Korea November 20, 1987 [305]
 Suzhou  China June 7, 1988 [306]
 Khabarovsk  Russia June 10, 1988 [307]
 Kaohsiung  Taiwan October 11, 1988 [308]
 Mutare  Zimbabwe December 18, 1991 [309]
 Bologna  Italy June 5, 2003 [310]
Kota Kinabalu  Malaysia September 29, 2014 [298]

See also


  1. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon's population as of 2018 was 4,190,713; with the MSA being 2,478,810, this leaves 65% of Oregon's population residing within the metro.
  2. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  3. Official records for Portland have been kept at PDX since 13 October 1940.[82] In January 1996, snow measurements for PDX were moved to the NWS Portland office 4 mi (6.4 km) to the east at 5241 NE 122nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97230-1089.[76]


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  • Allen, John Elliott; Burns, Marjorie; Sargent, Sam C. (2009). Cataclysms on the Columbia. Ooligan Press. ISBN 978-1-93201-031-2.
  • Anderson, Heather Arndt (2014). Portland: A Food Biography. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-44222-738-5.
  • Barth, Jack (1991). Roadside Hollywood:The Movie Lover's State-By-State Guide to Film Locations, Celebrity Hangouts, Celluloid Tourist Attractions, and More. Contemporary Books.
  • Chandler, J.D. (2013). Hidden History of Portland, Oregon. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62619-198-3.
  • Falsetto, Mario (2015). Conversations with Gus Van Sant. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-44224-766-6.
  • Freilich, Robert H; Sitkowski, Robert J.; Mennilo, Seth D. (2010). From Sprawl to Sustainability: Smart Growth, New Urbanism, Green Development. Amer-Bar-Asso.
  • Human Rights Campaign (July 11, 2013). Healthcare Equality Index 2013. HRC. ISBN 978-1-934765-27-2.
  • John, Finn (2012). Wicked Portland: The Wild and Lusty Underworld of a Frontier Seaport Town. History Press. ISBN 978-1-60949-578-7.
  • Marschner, Janice (July 15, 2008). Oregon 1859: A Snapshot in Time. Timber Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-88192-873-0.
  • Mass, Clifford (2008). The Weather of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-29598-847-4.
  • Palahniuk, Chuck (2003). Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon. Crown. ISBN 978-1-40004-783-3.
  • Platt, Rutherford (2006). The Humane Metropolis: People and Nature in the 21st-Century City. University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 978-1-55849-554-8.
  • Scott, H.W. (1890). History of Portland Oregon with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. D. Mason & Co.
  • Wilson III, Ernest J.; Wilson, Ernest J. (2004). Diversity and US Foreign Policy: A Reader. New York: Routledge. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-415-92884-7.

Further reading

  • Abbott, Carl (2001). Greater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-1779-7.
  • Abbott, Carl (2011). Portland in Three Centuries: The Place and the People. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87071-613-3.; scholarly history
  • Gaston, Joseph (1911). Portland, Oregon, Its History and Builders: In Connection with the Antecedent Explorations, Discoveries, and Movements of the Pioneers that Selected the Site for the Great City of the Pacific. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. OCLC 1183569. In Three Volumes. Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3
  • Hodges, Adam J. World War I and Urban Order: The Local Class Politics of National Mobilization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
  • Holbrook, Stewart (1986) [Reprint of 1952 edition]. Far Corner: A Personal View of the Pacific Northwest. Sausalito, California: Comstock Editions. ISBN 978-0-89174-043-8.
  • Lansing, Jewel (2003). Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 1851–2001. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87071-559-4.
  • MacColl, E. Kimbark (1976). The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1885 to 1915. Portland, Oregon: Georgian Press. OCLC 2645815.
  • MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915 to 1950. Portland, Oregon: Georgian Press. ISBN 978-0-9603408-1-1.
  • MacGibbon, Elma (1904). Leaves of knowledge. Spokane: Shaw & Borden Co. OCLC 3877939. Retrieved June 22, 2013. Contents: "Elma MacGibbon 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 (July 9, 2007). "Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn't Work" (PDF). Policy Analysis. 596. OCLC 164599623. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  • Ozawa, Connie P., ed. (2004). The Portland Edge: Challenges and Successes in Growing Communities. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-695-7.
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