Portland is the largest city in Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is located where the Willamette and Columbia rivers meet.
Portland is the 28th most populous U.S. city. The majority of Oregon’s 4 million people reside in the Portland metropolitan area.
Before European settlement, the Portland Basin of the lower Columbia and Willamette river valleys was the most densely populated Native American region on the Pacific Coast, home to indigenous Chinook, Multnomah and Clackamas tribes. They were skilled hunters and fishermen and had all the elk and salmon they needed.
Significant numbers of pioneer settlers began arriving in the 1830s via the Oregon Trail. Because of the many trees being cut down to allow for its growth, Portland was initially referred to as “Stumptown” and “The Clearing.” Its water access provided convenient transportation of goods, and the timber industry was a major force in the city’s early economy.
In 1843 William Overton partnered with Asa Lovejoy of Boston to purchase 640 acres. Overton sold his half to Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, a city named after an isle on the English Channel. A coin toss decided the name Portland, Oregon, over Boston.
Portland experienced an economic and industrial surge during World War II when shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser won contracts to construct liberty ships and aircraft carrier escorts.
During the 1960s, an influx of hippie subculture took root, and social activism sprouted. As a result, today’s Portland is one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world with high walkability, a large community of bicyclists, farm-to-table dining, an expansive public transportation network and more than 10,000 acres of public parks.
Portland is surrounded by natural wonders and accessible hiking trails to sites like the 620-foot Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. Mount Hood commands the skyline, as does Mount St. Helens in neighboring Washington State.
Its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and chilly, rainy winters, which is ideal for growing roses. Hence, Portland has been officially nicknamed the “City of Roses” for more than a century.
Portland museums offer a variety of educational programs. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) includes many hands-on activities for adults and children. OMSI has many unique attractions, such as Ingalls’ first submarine, USS Blueback (SS 581), which served from 1959 to 1990 and was also used in the film “The Hunt for Red October.”
In the 1990s, the technology industry began to emerge in the “Silicon Forest” of Portland, specifically with the establishment of companies like Intel, which brought more than $10 billion in investments in 1995. More than 1,200 technology companies exist within the metro area. Manufacturing is also a boon with shoemaker Adidas and a thriving steel industry.
Many musicians had their first jam session in Portland, such as Curtis Salgado, whose encounter with John Belushi in Eugene helped inspire The Blues Brothers. The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Quarterflash and Everclear hail from the City of Roses; and it still boasts an active nightlife.