Portland is the biggest and most populated city in the state of Oregon. It is also the seat of Multnomah County. Portland is themain port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. This city is recognized as one of the world’s most environmentally conscious cities due to its high walkability, more than 10,000 acres of public parks, farm-to-table dining, a large community of bicyclists, and an extensive network of public transportation options.
These are the reasons why Portland ranks highly in quality of life in the United States. Aside from that, its climate is also marked by warm, dry summers and cold, rainy winters which is ideal for growing roses. In fact, Portland has been referred to as the “City of Roses” for more than a century. More than those things, there are lots of other things to discover in Portland, Oregon. Let us know about its history, as well as the current main attractions you can visit here.
History of Portland, Oregon
In the 1800s, before American pioneers began arriving, two bands of indigenous Chinook people inhabited the land which are the Multnomah and Clackamas. These people were first documented occupying the land back in 1805 by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. The Portland Basin of the lower Columbian River and Willamette River Valleys used to be one of the most heavily populated regions on the Pacific Coast before its European settlement.
In the 1830s, there were large numbers of pioneer settlers that began arriving in the Willamette Valley via the Oregon Trail. Then, a new settlement emerged ten miles from the mouth of the Willamette River in the early 1940s, which was roughly halfway between Fort Vancouver and Oregon City. The community was referred to as “Stumptown” and “The Clearing” because there were many trees that were cut down for its growth.
William Overton,in 1843, saw potential in the new settlement.However, he lacked the funds to file an official land claim. What he did instead was he shared half of the 640-acre site with Asa Lovejoy from Boston for 25 cents. Then, in 1845, William Overton sold his half of the land to Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine when he grew bored with clearing trees and developing infrastructure for the new settlement.
Both Francis and Asa wanted to rename “The Clearing” after their respective hometowns. Asa wanted it to be Boston,while Francis wanted it to be Portland. They settled the controversy through a coin toss where Francis won in a series of two out of three tosses, thus providing Portland with its namesake. The coin they used for this settlement is put on display in the headquarters of the Oregon Historical Society, and it was referred to as the Portland Penny.
Settling the Land
In 1850, with the help of the Oregon Donation Land Claim, pioneers and speculators began to settle in Oregon. In that same year, the population of Portland grew to 800. The place contained a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and the Weekly Oregonian newspaper.
In 1851, Portland was incorporated, measuring 2.1 square miles, and it became a major port. Portland was known as the “Unheavenly City” from 1850 to 1941 because of the frequent acts of shanghaiing. Many innocent bystanders were whisked away through trap doors that lead to an extensive tunnel under the streets, where the captives were later sold as slaves.
In 1857, Portland gained gas supply, and then Washington Park was created in 1871. However, in 1873, Portland suffered from a severe fire where many buildings were destroyed. Luckily, the town was able to recover and continued to grow after that. By 1900, Portland was a bustling city with 90,000 in population. The amenities of the city improved as well.
20th Century Portland
The population of Portland tripled from nearly 100,000 to 300,000 between 1900 and 1930. It housed an assembly center during World War II where more than 3,000 people of Japanese descent were sent out to confinement camps in the heartland. During the same time, Portland became an infamous hub for underground criminal activity, organizing crime between the 1940s and 1950s.
In spite of Portland’s trace of criminal activity, the city enjoyed an economic and industrial rush during World War II. During this time, Henry J. Kaiser, a shipbuilder, has been awarded contracts to build Liberty ships and aircraft carrier escorts. He chose sites in Portland, Vancouver, and Washington for work yards. That’s why at that time, the population of the city rose to more than 150,000, and the majority are recruited laborers.
The arrival of the hippie subculture began to take root in Portland during the 1960s, in the wake of San Francisco’s growing countercultural scene. By the 1970s, the city had well established itself as a progressive city. It experienced an economic boom for the majority of the decade.
Portland in the 1990s to Present
The technology industry began to develop in Portland in the 1990s. One of the companies established was Intel, which in 1995, brought over $10 billion investments alone. Portland experienced significant growth after the year 2000, with a population increase of more than 90,000 from 2000 to 2014. Due to Portland’s increased presence within the cultural lexicon, it became a popular city for young people, being second to Louisville, Kentucky, as one of the cities to draw and maintain the maximum number of college-educated people in the United States.
Throughout Portland’s history, it has acquired different nicknames. Most often, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it is referred to as “Rose City” or “The City of Roses”. Aside from those, another widely used nickname of Portland is “PDX” which is also the airport code for Portland International Airport. Other nicknames of the city are Bridgetown, Rip City, Portlandia, Soccer City, and Little Beirut.
Popular Attractions and Dining in Portland, Oregon
If you will be visiting Portland, Oregon soon, here are some of the wonderful places that you should miss to see and experience.
This is a public urban park in Portland. It covers over 410 acres or 166 hectares on mostly steep, wooded hillsides ranging from 200 feet to 870 feet. Washington Park includes a zoo, soccer field, picnic areas, playgrounds, rose garden, children’s museum, tennis courts, playgrounds, arboretum, public art, forestry museum, and many lands of wild forest with miles of trails.
The Washington Park covers 159.7 acres of city parkland that has been officially designated as “Washington Park” by the city of Portland, together with the adjacent Oregon Zoo and the Hoyt Arboretum, which all in all make up the area described as “Washington Park” on maps.
Portland Japanese Garden
This is a traditional Japanese garden in Portland which occupies 12 acres of land. It is located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland. This garden is operated as a private, non-profit organization. Sapporo, Japan became a sister city of Portland in 1958, which inspired business leaders and public officials in Portland to create a Japanese garden.
This garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tono from the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and it opened to the public in 1967.Portland Japanese Garden is composed of eight spaces and a cultural village. Some of the spots you can visit here are the Strong Pond Garden, the Sand and Stone Garden, the Natural Garden, the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace, the Flat Garden, the Tea Garden, the Entry Garden, and the Tsubo-Niwa.
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden is the former Portland Classical Chinese Garden. It opened in the year 2000 to shed light on Chinese culture and history. It was after Portland developed a relationship with its sister city of Suzhou, China. This Chinese garden has a tranquil environment. It blends plants, trees, rocks, gardens, and a lake on a 40,000 square feet of land in central Portland. There’s also a lovely tea house in this garden.
If you’re planning to visit, they offer guided and self-guided tours. There are also special events here, such as tea tastings, tai chi, and mahjong.
If you’re looking for a place to shop and dine in Portland, then you can visit Pearl District. This place is filled with great restaurants, unique boutiques, and art galleries as well. It is also home to the original Powell’s City Books, which is the largest independent bookseller. Therefore, bookworms will surely enjoy here as well. It is a trendy place where you can stroll and relax with the whole family.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
If you’re into museum and science, then the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is the best place you can visit in Portland. You can find here lots of exhibits and hands-on activities about natural sciences, technology, and industry. If you are visiting the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, then you might as well visit this museum because they are just adjacent to each other.
There are many wonderful restaurants to eat at in Portland. One great option is Noodle World. It is popular for its diverse menu and authentic dishes from all over Asia. Noodle World is a fast-casual restaurant where you order at the counter and help yourself to a drink while your food is being prepared. Some of the foods you can try in Noodle World are Tom Yum Noodles, Pad Thai, Wonton Noodle Soup, Pad See You, Yakisoba, and some rice dishes as well. They also have great Boba teaoptions.
It is truly a delight to visit Portland, Oregon. This place has everything a tourist could possibly want, such as great sights to see, delicious foods, and a pleasant shopping experience as well. You also have great access to both the coast and mountains.