You Must go to the Bathroom in Portland!

It Took us 2 Hours to See all the Bathroom Art

Bottles encased and backlit inside the wall of one favorite women's bathroom at the Oregon Convention Center.
Bottles encased and backlit inside the wall of one favorite women's bathroom at the Oregon Convention Center. | Source
Each urinal has something to look at while one stands there.
Each urinal has something to look at while one stands there. | Source
So much variety for a bathroom design. Seascapes seem to be a timeless genre of decor for restrooms.
So much variety for a bathroom design. Seascapes seem to be a timeless genre of decor for restrooms. | Source
Full length mirrors are framed with ceramic tiles.
Full length mirrors are framed with ceramic tiles. | Source
Some of the work is whimsical.
Some of the work is whimsical. | Source
There are several Oregon lighthouses, as they are depicted on this bathroom wall.
There are several Oregon lighthouses, as they are depicted on this bathroom wall. | Source
Even the doorways are decorative.
Even the doorways are decorative. | Source
Fun depictions grace the bathroom walls in the Oregon Convention Center.
Fun depictions grace the bathroom walls in the Oregon Convention Center. | Source
Every style and kind of bathroom art at the Oregon Convention Center.
Every style and kind of bathroom art at the Oregon Convention Center. | Source
Each bathroom has a different theme with different artwork. This room displays hand-painted tile art.
Each bathroom has a different theme with different artwork. This room displays hand-painted tile art. | Source
Shapes embedded in the walls and at night they light the wall and it looks even cooler.
Shapes embedded in the walls and at night they light the wall and it looks even cooler. | Source

Portland, Oregon is known for it’s diverse population. Literally, every kind of person lives there and is encouraged to be themselves with the city’s motto: Keep Portland Weird.


In a city of half a million or more people, you get a lot of diversity just because of the sheer numbers alone. There are several museums, including the Museum of Crafts, which is a very interesting place with displays using every medium known to man.


For the art lovers of any style or genre there is one place that even the taxi cab drivers recommend to people; the bathrooms in the Portland Convention Center! The Center has over two million dollars in artwork hanging around the place.


It’s everywhere. These works range from brass carvings to paintings, ceramics, sculptures and even a replica of a huge Dragon Boat that hangs from the ceiling.


You Have to See the Bathrooms


But, the bathroom art is where the pay dirt is on the art collection. Every single public bathroom in the Center is done with different artworks from various local artists, and tons of people cruise through just to see the famous bathroom art.


It can take a couple of hours to see them all, and the smart ones come in pairs of male and female so one can make sure a bathroom is empty before the other sex can enter and check out the art.


One bathroom has beautiful colored bottles encased inside a wall; another bathroom has been done in ceramic tiles that depict doorways or hold in mirrors. Each one has a theme and was commissioned to be done by a local artist, and no two restrooms are alike.


Ask the Docents for Bathroom Art Information


At the Convention Center’s huge information desk a visitor can find a pamphlet on the modern wall art in the bathrooms, telling visitors where each bathroom is, what’s being displayed in it, and who made it. It’s worth stopping to pick it up, it’s very informational.


Seeing Portland’s weirdness first-hand is recommended; simply reading about it or looking at photos doesn’t really do the place - or the artworks - justice. It’s worth writing home about and taking pictures of.


What else is there to do besides Portland, Oregon art galleries? Lots! This city is really set up for every imaginable activity and preference one can have. Whatever one wants to do, it’s available somewhere in the City of Roses; one of Portland’s many monikers.


Alias names the city goes by:

  • Rose City
  • City of Roses
  • Stumptown
  • P-town
  • Bike City
  • Po
  • Rip City
  • Bridge City
  • Bridge town
  • Razorblade City
  • Beervana
  • PDX
  • Little Beirut


Portland by Any Other Name is Still Portland


These names were all given because of different aspects of Portland’s livelihood. There are seven bridges over the Willamette River within the city’s limits and it’s been voted the second-most bike friendly city in the USA. Even the Portland International Airport has a bike repair station for those who ride their bikes and then fly, and the other way around.


Each year they hold “Bike-a-Palooza” where every bicyclist in town rides across the bridges and hold races and parades all over town. Even some of the area’s best hotels have bike parking lots, and one of them is even under a roof. Portland even has a self proclaimed “bicycle chiropractor” that will make sure your bike is set up to fit the rider’s body correctly.


Rip City came about from basketball’s Trail Blazers and City of Roses is an old name given in 1888 for a mayor’s love of the flower, suggesting the city hold an annual festival. It’s called the Rose Festival and is celebrated every June, when the roses are in full bloom. There are many parks filled with roses, and even a super huge rose garden resides downtown.


Rose Festival and Garden Competitions


Each year there are contests held to showcase the city’s most prolific rose growers, and citizens compete for the title of most beautiful rose garden. Any cab driver worth their salt can take visitors to one or all of the famous rose gardens in city limits.


Portland also has a “living room” in the city center, and it’s called Pioneer Courthouse Square - directly across from the Pioneer Courthouse, which was later turned into a post office, and then later turned into a city building. The Square is made of bricks and most of them have the names of city residents stamped into them.


There’s plenty of room for staged events, concerts, and in summer, walk-in movies. Just look around and ask for what you want. Somebody, somewhere will know and direct you, as the people in Portland are very neighborly and friendly.

More by this Author


What Would You Like to See in Portland? 12 comments

SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 4 years ago Author

Thank you, Magdelene, and yes, you should come see our famous bathrooms. It was a cab driver who told me about them, and it was a good two hour adventure.


Magdelene profile image

Magdelene 4 years ago from Okotoks

Nice, now if I'm ever in Portland I have to see this! I generally dislike public washrooms and try to avoid them, but this is definitely an exception and a must see. Imagine that, making a detour on a trip to go and see an awesome washroom. Great Hub!


SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 4 years ago Author

Hey, I'd love to see your blog and your book, too! Thanks for the info.


PDX Girl 4 years ago

What a fun article! Portland has a plethora of unique bathrooms and ironically enough I have a coffee table book coming out this holiday season highlighting over 50 funky & fabulous bathrooms in P-town! You can follow my blog at www.girlonthegopdx.com or facebook page Girl On The Go PDX for updates and to pre-order the book.


SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 4 years ago Author

It's like each bathroom is an artist's gallery. It's really cool, and when you go looking at them you'll see others doing the same thing.


peace13 4 years ago

Are these bathrooms or art galleries? Whatever, but they are worth visiting.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Very interesting. I have never been there. You took me on a trip there with your hub. Thanks for sharing.


penlady profile image

penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

This is a side of Portland I've never known. Very interesting bathrooms. Thanks for enlightening us about Portland. Voted up and interesting.


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 4 years ago from Texas

Never knew that about Portland, thanks for sharing!


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece

If I ever end up in Portland I'll make sure we pay a visit to the Portland Convention Centre. Sadly it's highly unlikely though!! I love the full length mirror with the mosaic effect framing it, I'd probably end up walking into it thinking it's a door!!

A fun hub showing what Portland has to offer.

Thank you for sharing....


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego

Those are beautiful! ^-^' In particular, 1, 7 and 11 are my favorite! :)


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Oh, ho! That's some bathroom deco--thanks for highlighting Portland's art. :)

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