History of Portland
The area of present-day Portland was originally inhabited by two bands of Upper Chinook Indians - the Multnomah people and the Cascades Indians. European descendants first settled the part of the land in the area known as “the clearing,” on the banks of the Willamette River. This land was good in terms of topography and soil and it was located halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. In 1843, William Overton and Asa Lovejoy bought the land where the town would be erected. Overton then sold his share to Frances W. Pettygrove. When it was time to name the town, Lovejoy and Pettygrove both wanted to name it after their home towns, Boston and Portland, Maine, respectively. Pettygrove won the coin toss and the town was named Portland.
Portland was incorporated in 1851 and at the time it had some 800 inhabitants, a hotel, a steam sawmill and a newspaper. In the following 3 years the population grew to 17,500 and in 1891 Portland merged with East Portland and Albina. The population continued to grow, the city spread and finally in 1911 annexed another two towns, Linnton and St. Johns. The city’s location was exceptional as it was connected to the Pacific Ocean through its rivers and also to the fertile Tualatin Valley. Portland remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest until 1890s, when railroads arrived to the Seattle’s deepwater harbor, making it the largest and the busiest in the region.
Geography and Climate
The city is located in the northern section of the most populated region in Oregon, the Willamette Valley. The Willamette River runs through Portland and joins the Columbia River just north of the city. Portland has an area of 145.4 square miles. The highest elevation is 1,280 ft. at Penridge Road. The city is located in an extinct volcanic field but several active volcanoes, such as Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood are located in the area and visible from the city on most clear days.
The city has a climate that can be described as temperate oceanic climate with mild and wet winters and warm and dry summers. The climate can also be classified as cool-summer Mediterranean.
Portland can be divided into four quadrants: North, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Portland. There is a number of parks within the city limits, most notably the Forest Park, International Rose Test Garden, Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Portland Japanese Garden and Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park.
In 2010, Portland had a population of 583,776, of which 72.2% were non-Hispanic Whites, 9.4% were Hispanics or Latinos, 7.1% were Asian, 6.3% Black or African American, 1% Native American, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 5% some other race and 4.7% two or more races.
The city has one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the USA and the seventh-largest LGBT population in the nation. The population in the city has been and still is predominantly white. In the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan was influential in the city and in the state and in the 1980s and 1990s the city has problems with radical and often violent skinhead groups. A number of rallies and campaigns were organized in response to these racial tensions and the city slowly transformed into what it is today - a peaceful and tolerant place for everyone. In 2009, Forbes magazine deemed Portland the third safest city in the USA.
Economy of Portland
Historically, the economy of Portland was based on shipping and distribution, as well as on lumber industry and manufacturing. Today, it is a major regional distribution center and also home to a number of hi-tech companies. The largest employer is Intel and other major companies include Willamette Industries, Louisiana-Pacific, U.S. Bank, Evraz North American, as well as the U.S. headquarters for Vestas Wind Systems, Adidas, Keen and Li-Nong Co.
Culture and Arts
Portland is home to the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Opera and Portland Youth Philharmonic. The city has a number of theatre stages in the Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway style. Portland also hosts the world’s only HP Lovecraft Film Festival.
The city is known for its independent and DIY spirit in various spheres, from business (small, family-operated cafes, breweries, pubs, restaurants and galleries) to music, theatre and visual arts. Portland is home to bands such as The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Pink Martini, Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, The Dandy Warholes, The Shins and Elliott Smith.
The creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, was born in Portland and the city is also the birthplace of celebrated authors Chuck Palahniuk and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Top institutions of higher education in Portland include Portland State University, Oregon Health and Science University, Lewis and Clark College, Reed College, Concordia University, University of Portland, Warner Pacific College and Oregon College of Art and Craft.