“We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don’t tell any of your neighbors where you are going.” -Former Governor Tom McCall, 1971 interview
Our dedicated website to all things Portland Oregon could not be complete without some Portland Trivia. Portland is an amazing city– so amazing, in fact, that many a Portlander has been caught, well, lying, hmmm…ok, concealing how great this place really is. You know you’re a real Portlander when you catch yourself telling visitors and non-Oregonians how awful the place is– how it never quits raining, how you never see the sun, how your house sinks in the mud every year, how the river stinks to high heaven and no one can even handle going downtown because of it, and the FOOD– arrgh!! — you get the point.
All of that aside– Portland does have some interesting trivia that we wanted to share. We’ve located this stuff from all over and find some of it mighty interesting. If you don’t see some Portland trivia we just have to have, please let us know!
Note – If you were searching for the Portland Trivia Night page, you can find it here.
545,140; ~2 million in the Portland metropolitan area
145 square miles
Average of 173 feet above sea level
Miles from Portland to the ocean
Miles from Portland to a glacier
65 to the Palmer Glacier on Mount Hood. At 11,239 feet Mount Hood is the tallest peak in Oregon. Mount Hood is a dormant volcano
Average Portland Temperatures
Winter, ~40 °F, Summer, 80 °F (and we do get our fair share of scorchers 90-100 °F days)
40 to 45 inches per year inches (believe it or not– less than cities like Atlanta, Houston and Seattle).
Portland averages 155 days with measurable precipitation.
If it snows, the city pretty much shuts down! I think we have about 3 snow plows!
And don’t believe anyone who tells you that Portland summers “aren’t that hot”! We get our fair share of scorchers!
Tourism, high-tech (hence the nickname Silicon Forest), health care and manufacturing.
Biggest area employers are Intel and Nike
Portland International Airport- airport code PDX.
A taxi from the airport to downtown is around $30. Hop on the light rail (the MAX) for less than 3 bucks.
The lovely Blue Heron (but we see way more seagulls around these parts…)
503 and 971– must use all ten digits when dialing
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations. Yep, you are not allowed to pump it yourself! Don’t even try!!
How does Portland compare to…?
Portland is the largest city between San Francisco and Seattle. 24th largest in the US.
City Planning and random trivia
In most cases, east-west streets are named while north-south avenues are numbered. (North Portland is an exception)
Portland got its name in a coin toss! We could have been “Boston, Oregon”!
Teeny weeny park
Portland is home to Mill Ends Park, the smallest park in the world. Only two feet across– its a real must see! Located downtown in the middle of a crosswalk on Front Avenue at Taylor Street.
On the flipside, Forest Park, is nearly 5000 acres. It is the largest urban park in the US.
Home of the Portland Trailblazers
No sales tax!!
Home to the Saturday Market, SW 1st Av. (under the Burnside Bridge) The largest open-air crafts market in continuous operation in the US. Open on Sundays, too– despite the name.
“Portland Saturday Market The Portland Saturday Market is an absolute “must-do”! Come meet up with the locals and join the throngs of folks milling about and enjoying locally made crafts and amazing local food, most with an ethnic flair. Despite the name, Saturday Market is open on Sunday’s too! Located in Old Town/Chinatown.”
We’re crazy for wireless!
Free wireless- yeah! Over 100 spots where one can hookup to the Internet for free. Surf in Pioneer Square, PGE Park and many local parks and neighborhoods. A big thanks to the The Personal Telco Project.
Birth of pan-Asian?
Our number of bento carts (Japanese box lunch) will give New York hot dog stands a run for their money! Sold on street corners all over downtown
Portland State University is Oregon’s largest university. Main campus located at the southern edge of downtown.
The Portland Public Schools district consists of about 100 schools and about 53,000 students
Biggest book store EVER
Powell’s City of Books The largest used and new bookstore in the world, Powell’s City of Books has been wowing locals and visitors alike since 1971…The store spans an entire city block. It will take you hours to traverse the nooks and crannies and color coded sections but you will love every minute of it!
Last count finds 28 breweries within the city– the largest concentration of breweries of any city in the US. We bet that number changes (+) every week…
BridgePort Brewing Co., was Oregons first craft brewery
American Style magazine recognized Portland as the 10th best Big City Arts Destination in the United States in 2006.
Home to Portlandia”, is the second largest copper statue in the United States–only the Statue of Liberty is larger. You’ll find her at the Public Services Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue
On the First Thursday of every month, art galleries in the Pearl district are free, serving wine and snacks for the ‘gallery hoppers’.
On the Last Thursday (of course we have an alternative to First Thursday) gallery hoppers gather between Alberta St. between Martin Luther King and 30th, enjoying wine tasting, galleries,street vendors and sidewalk art.
Drop by our Arts page and wow yourself with a listing of Portland’s art galleries and events!
The International Rose Test Garden features more than 500 varieties of roses cultivated since 1917.
Another local favorite is the Peninsula Rose Garden planted in 1900. Over 8,000 plantings in a sunken, dream like turn of the century park located in the Piedmont neighborhood.
Portland reportedly has more strip clubs per capita than both Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, is originally from Portland
Director Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, Elephant is also from Portland. Most of his movies have a hidden Portland theme- parts filmed in PDX, featuring musicians from PDX and more….
The Hood to Coast Relay is reportedly the world’s largest running relay race, with nearly 20K racers per year running from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean at Seaside. That’s something like 130 miles– ouch!
The Portland Marathon has been going strong since 1971.
Home to the very first professional hockey team in the US, the Portland Rosebuds. Portland no longer has professional hockey but we do have junior hockey– go Winterhawks!
The Columbia river separates Oregon from Washington (Vancouver, WA is located just over the bridge– about 6 miles from downtown Portland). Portlander’s call Vancouver “The Couve”…
Lloyd Center Mall was once the largest shopping center in the US
Best pizza award continually goes to Flying Pie Pizzeria — and they deserve that award for sure! We really think that Eddie’s Pizza in Humboldt neighborhood is hot on their heels, however! 😉
2006, SustainLane ranks Portland number 1 of 50 U.S. cities on quality of life and economic factors that affect personal sustainability
Pioneer Courthouse Square has been dubbed “Portland’s living room”)
In 1905 the largest log cabin in the world was built in Portland to honor the Lewis and Clark expedition
The Willamette River was discovered in 1792
The worlds tallest barber shop pole stands in Forest Grove, Oregon.The famous Nike “swoosh” logo was designed by University of Oregon student, Carolyn Davidson in 1964. This was just four years after business undergrad Phil Knight and track coach Bill Bowerman founded the company they originally called Blue Ribbon Sports. Rumor has it Ms. Davidson was paid $35 dollars for her design
Sellwood once was a rival of Portland. It was later annexed and is now a thriving little neighborhood of its own along with West Moreland
Portlanders supposedly eat more ice cream than any other city per capita….hmmmmm
Portland’s Sister Cities
- Ashkelon, Israel
- Bologna, Italy
- Corinto, Nicaragua
- Guadalajara, Mexico
- Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Khabarovsk, Russia
- Mutare, Zimbabwe
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- Sapporo, Japan
- Suzhou, China
- Ulsan, South Korea
Portland nicknames and their origin
City of Roses, or The Rose City – Our climate is favorable to roses. We are home to the amazing International Rose Test Garden, and the Peninsula Park Rose Garden, among others.
Bridgetown – we have lots of bridges spanning the Willamette river downtown. From the North, they are the St. John’s, Fremont, Broadway, Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne, Marquam, Ross Island, and Sellwood bridges.
Puddletown – well…this is fairly obvious. 36+ inches of rain a year makes a whole lot o’puddles.
PDX – our airline code, and commonly used nickname.
Stumptown – Back in the day, we used to be a big logging town, and there were many fir stumps left as a result.
P-Town – just another shortened nickname for Portland.
Portland Geography Slang
No’ Po’ – refers to North Portland.
The Sunset – Refers to Highway 26, which runs East-West and explains the blinding angle of the sun’s rays shining
into your eyes as you attempt your commute West back home to Beaverton or Hillsboro.
Lake O’ – Lake Oswego, a well-to-do city located Southwest of Portland.
Tigard – is a city located South of Portland, is not pronounced like the name “TIGGER” (a popular tiger character from Winnie the Pooh), but TI’gerd.
Aloha- Beaverton’s sister city…and nope, its not pronounced how you might think– locals call it A-Lo-AH
The Beav…- Doesn’t refer to Wally’s brother on that popular vintage TV show, “Leave it to Beaver”, but refers to the City of Beaverton, located West of Portland.
The Coov – refers to Vancouver, the city North in Washington. Vancouver is another popular residence for people who commute into the city to work each day.
“The Mountain is Out” – this means it is a clear day and you can see Mount Hood in the distance, a favorite Portland postcard image. Or maybe you’ll see Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens all at once, if you are lucky enough to have that vantage point!
The Gorge – refers to the Columbia Gorge, a stunning and very popular natural area and favorite weekend getaway for Portland locals.
The Falls – refers to our famous Multnomah Falls located in the Columbia Gorge east of the city.
The Coast – refers to the Oregon coastline West of Portland, of course.
Timberline – is Oregon’s wonderful historic ski lodge up on Mt. Hood.
Willamette – Our downtown river is pronounced with the accent in the middle-“wil LAM’ ette”, and not “WILL’-am-ette.
Couch and Glisan – Two commonly mispronounced streets downtown are “Couch” and “Glisan”. Newcomers may wonder why we named a street after a piece of living room furniture. The street names are actually pronounced KOOCH, and GLEE’sen.
Portland Retail Slang
Freddies – refers to the ever-popular Fred Meyer chain of stores.
Nordies – Refers to Nordstrom, another local shopping fave.
Les Schwab-is only called Les Schwab-but everyone here knows that is where you buy tires to get one of the few remaining “best service” experiences you’ll ever have, anywhere. (They will fix your flat tire for free-even if you never bought your tires there!)
Other Common Portland Terms
The MAX – refers to Tri Met’s light rail train (Metropolitan Area Express).
Fareless Square – Ride the MAX for free in this geographical area. All MAX trips that begin and end within Fareless Square are free-all day, every day. Fareless Square includes most of downtown Portland (within the boundaries of the Willamette River, NW Irving Street, and the I-405 freeway), as well as MAX stations from the Rose Quarter to Lloyd Center and bus stops along NE Multnomah to 13th Avenue.
The Schnitz – refers to the historic Paramount theater, now known as “The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall”, a grand theatre downtown. (The Schnitzers are a prominent local family.)
OMSI (pronounced AHM’zee), is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Pill Hill – Oregon Health Sciences University is located on “the hill” South of Downtown Portland. The entire area is often referred to as “Pill Hill”.
Spendy – refers to the price of something, considered too expensive for the value. 23rd Ave over in Nob Hill neighborhood is a popular upscale shopping district has been called “Spendy-Third” on more than a few occasions.