Portland, Oregon straddles the Willamette River in northwestern Oregon, near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Once a campground and traditional hunting and fishing site of Native Chinook, Portland was first inhabited by settlers in 1829 and incorporated in 1851. It was an early terminus for Oregon Trail pioneers and the flow of gold rush immigrants. Today it has become an important west coast port and Oregon’s largest city with a population of approximately 584,000. Portland is the second largest exporter of grain in North America (Vancouver, B.C. is first), shipping one-third of all U.S. wheat. Other exports include lumber and aluminum, and Portland is one of the largest auto ports on the west coast due to being one and one-half days closer to Japan than San Francisco.
A city of many nicknames—today Portland is best known as the “City of Roses” (a nod to its popular Rose Festival held every June) and “City of Bridges” for its 14 unique auto bridges (some built by world-famous engineers and 8 listed on the National Historic Register.) Then there’s “Stumptown” (from the days when early builders left tree stumps in the middle of the city) and “Puddletown” (referring to an 1852 Oregonian editorial stating it was not appropriate for women to raise their skirts to avoid all the puddles and they should stay home when it rained!) Those days have certainly changed.
This clean and friendly riverside city is often awarded the “Greenest City in America” and ranks among the world’s top 10 greenest cities. Home to an array of artists and arts organizations, in 2006 it was named as the 10th best Big City Arts Destination in the U.S. There is much to enjoy with its wonderful blend of historic and eclectic sites. The Portland Saturday Market provides a bazaar-like environment reflecting the many cultures of the area and the Tom McCall Waterfront Park is popular for scenic riverside strolls or jogs. The city offers myriad attractions from visiting museums to perusing Powell’s Bookstore—at one city block long and three stories high, it’s the largest independent bookstore in the U.S. and requires a map to guide you through.