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15 Facts about Portland, Oregon

Updated on April 12, 2014
Portland with Mt. Hood to the east
Portland with Mt. Hood to the east | Source

Portland is a city in northwestern Oregon and seat of Multnomah county. It is located on the Willamette River, near its confluence with the Columbia River. The city is 636 miles (1,017 km) north-northeast of San Francisco and 959 miles (1,534 km) north-northeast of Los Angeles. It is some 110 miles (176 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean, and about 50 miles (80 km) west of the Cascade Mountains. Portland is also the western portal of the Columbia Gorge, the only water-level passage through the Cascade range.

1. Together with its metropolitan area -which includes Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark county in Washington- Portland is a major industrial, commercial, and educational center of the northwest.

2. Portland is also an important port and a major tourist spot. The surrounding area is famous for its farms, orchards, dairies, and timberlands.

3. Portland is divided into five districts -north, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest. Although most of the terrain is level, elevations vary from a few feet above sea level to 1,073 feet (328 meters) atop Council Crest.

4. Temperatures in Portland average 65.3° F (18.3° C) during the summer months and 42.8° F (6° C) in the winter. The annual rainfall averages 41 inches (1,041 mm).

Weird Sign in Portland
Weird Sign in Portland | Source

5. The city's soil and climate are particularly suitable for the rose, and Portland is known as the Rose City.

6. Although the city possesses an increasingly diversified economy, resulting from Portland's growing importance as a transportation and distribution center, it is dependent primarily on manufacturing for its economic livelihood. Metalworking; food and related products; lumber, furniture, and timber products; and chemicals and chemical products play a major economic role in Portland. The city also has expanding electronics and sportswear industries.

7. Some 17 hospitals in Portland employ more than 10,000 persons. Portland's climate and scenery make it a particularly attractive locale for the elderly, and there are many retirement communities.


8. The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District manages the city's mass-transit system, and an international airport is 8 miles (13 km) northeast of the city center. As additional aids to urban commerce, four transcontinental railroad companies and a large group of highways, including the interstate network, serve Portland.

9. The Oregonian became Portland's only major daily newspaper when the Oregon Journal ceased publication in September 1982.

10. The Portland School District administers the school system. There is also a wide selection of private and parochial schools as well as a group of trade and business educational institutions.

11. Among the universities and colleges in Portland are the University of Portland, a private institution founded in 1901; the Oregon Health and Science University, chartered in 1974 as a reorganization of the schools of dentistry, medicine, and nursing; Reed College, a liberal arts institution founded in 1909; Warner Pacific College, founded by the Church of God in 1937; Portland State University, a branch of Oregon State University that had been founded as a college in 1955; and Lewis & Clark College, founded as Albany College in 1867. Other colleges in Portland are Portland Community College, established in 1961, and Concordia University, established by the Lutheran Church in 1905.

12. The Portland area has over 750 churches, with all major denominations represented. The Old Church, the city's oldest, is a fine example of Gothic architecture, and the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, an open-air grotto, is a landmark.

13. Portland has a symphony and a junior symphony orchestra, an opera association, a pops symphony, and a civic theater. Other cultural institutions are the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society Museum, and the Public Library with several branches. The Portland Civic Auditorium underwent a major renovation in the late 1960s.

14. The area offers excellent skiing, fishing, and hunting as well as beautiful natural settings for hiking and camping. There are some 140 parks in the city. The 103-acre (41-hectare) Washington Park includes the International Rose Test Gardens, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Zoological Gardens, the Western Forestry Center, and the Japanese Gardens. Mount Tabor Park on the city's east side is the site of an extinct volcano and contains three pure-water reservoirs. Portland is also the headquarters of Mt. Hood National Forest.

15. Although several persons are said to have settled during the early 19th century on the land now occupied by the city, it was not until 1844 that Asa L. Lovejoy and William Overton located the townsite and established their claim to it. Overton sold his interest to Francis W. Pettygrove, and in 1845, Pettygrove and Lovejoy had their claim surveyed, and a portion of it platted as a townsite. By the toss of a coin, it was decided that the town would be named Portland in honor of Pettygrove's hometown in Maine. It was incorporated in 1851.

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