83 Fun Facts About Portland: The City of Roses

The city of Portland, Oregon, with Mount Hood in distance

Portland is known for its gardens, vegan and bicycle-friendliness, and hipster vibes. Find out what else the City of Roses is famous for with these fun and interesting Portland facts!

Also, read these fun facts about Oregon, the state where Portland is found.

General Portland Facts

1. Oregon is the largest city in the US state of Oregon. But it is NOT the capital (that would be Salem).

2. With 641,162 residents, Portland is the 26th largest city in the United States, putting it between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Detroit, Michigan in terms of population.

3. The Greater Portland Area, which includes Vancouver and Hillsboro, has a population of 2.5 million, similar in size to Brisbane, Australia.

4. Around 60% of all Oregonians live in the Greater Portland Area.

5. Oregon is located in the northwestern corner of the Beaver State, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver in Washington State (not to be confused with Vancouver, Canada). The Willamette River, a tributary of the Columbia, flows through the city.

6. The city sits at the same latitude as Milan, Italy.

7. The highest temperature ever recorded in Portland was 112°F (44.4°C) in 2021, while the lowest was −2°F (−19°C) in 1888.

Iconic sign that says "Portland Oregon Old Town"
Many movies and TV shows have been filmed in Portland.

8. Portland got its name in a unique way, by a coin toss. In 1845, Asa Lovejoy wanted to name the area Boston, while Francis Pettygrove wanted to name the area Portland. Francis Pettygrove won the coin toss two out of three times. His hometown was Portland, Maine.

9. The official abbreviation for Portland and the Portland International Airport code is PDX.

10. Some common nicknames for Portland are City of Roses (most common), Stumptown (because when the city was first growing, stumps of trees were left behind until they had time to deal with them), Rip City (after the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team), and Beervana (for its plentiful craft beer).

11. Slogans for Portland have included “The City that Works” and “Keep Portland Weird”.

12. People from Portland are called Portlanders.

The Portland flag
The flag of Portland city

13. Portland is often compared with Seattle. The two Pacific Northwest cities have a similar climate, but locals would argue they are very different. Seattle is larger and more densely populated, while Portland is more laid-back and hip.

14. The Portland flag shows a green field with an offset cross of light blue, edged by offset white-yellow-white L-shaped stripes. A white four-pointed star is formed from the meeting lines in the left center.

15. Portland has nine sister cities, including Guadalajara (Mexico), Sapporo (Japan), and Kaohsiung (Taiwan).

Interesting Facts about Portland Places

16. Portland has both a Japanese and a Chinese Garden. Portland Japanese Garden is in Washington Park and has a teahouse, zen rock garden, ponds, and more. Lan Su Chinese Garden is in Portland’s Chinatown and is based on the famous gardens of Suzhou, another of Portland’s sister cities.

17. There are also over 10,000 roses in Washington Park’s International Rose Test Garden, the oldest such garden in the US.

A Japanese building and tree with pink flowers in Portland's Japanese garden
Portland Japanese Garden

18. Forest Park on the city’s west side is one of the country’s largest urban parks, with over 5100 acres.

19. Powell’s City of Books in Portland is the world’s largest independent bookstore, with an inventory of over 4 million new and used books.

20. Pittock Mansion is one of the city’s most interesting historical landmarks. The 1914 mansion was constructed in a French Renaissance style and overlooks the city. It was built by the founder of the Oregonian newspaper. It has been featured in The Amazing Race, First Love, and Unhinged.

21. Portland Art Museum is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest. It was founded in 1892. The gallery space is more than 112,000 square feet, and there are over 50,000 items on display, including Native American artifacts, Asian art, Northwestern art, English silver, graphic arts, and photography.

22. The tallest building in Portland is Wells Fargo Center, which has 40 floors and stands 546 ft (166 m) tall.

Exterior of Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion

23. Other iconic buildings in Portland include the Hollywood Theatre, Pioneer Courthouse, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom and Portland City Hall.

24. Some of Portland’s most famous monuments and statues include the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, Animals in Pools, Japanese American Historical Plaza, and Portlandia (the second-largest copper repoussé statue in the US after the Statue of Liberty in NYC).

25. Willamette Valley, just south of Portland, has over 500 vineyards. The area is especially known for its Pinot Noir.

Portland Economy and Society Facts

26. The Greater Portland area has the 23rd largest economy in the United States, between Greater St. Louis and Greater Tampa.

27. Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, Greater Portland. It is the city and state’s only Fortune 500 company.

Close up of Nike shoes worn by someone
Nike is the most famous company based in the Portland area

28. The Old Spaghetti Factory, a famous restaurant chain, was founded in Portland.

29. Portland is the largest fresh-water port on the west coast of the country and the 3rd largest port overall by export volume.

30. There are 12 colleges and universities in Portland, with the largest being the University of Portland and Portland State University.

31. The Portland International Airport is the 30th busiest airport in the US. It served 14.8 million passengers in 2022.

32. Portlanders definitely enjoy their beer. The city has the highest number of breweries per capita in the US (13 breweries per 100,000 people) and the 3rd highest total number of breweries (85, only surpassed by Denver and San Diego).

A man riding a bicycle along the river in Portland with sun setting behind buildings across the river
Cycling in Portland

33. Unsurprisingly, given its hipster reputation, Portland is often described as the country’s most vegan-friendly and bike-friendly city.

34. Gardenburger, the famous veggie burger brand, was established in Portland in 1981.

35. In the early 1900s, Portland was one of the most dangerous port cities in the world. It has come a long way since then, and today, its crime rate is below the national average. However, homicides and drug deaths have been skyrocketing in recent years.

36. Portland is also said to have the most strip clubs per capita in the US.

37. Timothy Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, is the richest person and only billionaire in Portland, with a net worth of 2.2 billion USD.

38. 16.2% of people in Portland live below the poverty line.

A street scene in downtown Portland
Downtown Portland

39. Portland has the 14th highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the US, at 8.8% of the city’s population.

40. 79.21% of Multnomah residents (the county where Portland is located) voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

41. Overall, Portland is known for its liberal values and counterculture.

42. Portland is one of the country’s least religious cities, with nearly half of residents describing themselves as atheist.

43. The TV series Portlandia makes fun of the city’s reputation as a hipster center.

44. Movies filmed in Portland include Leave No Trace, The Hunted, Wild, Case 39, and I, Tonya.

45. One claim to the invention of the corn dog comes from Rockaway Beach, on the Oregon coast near Portland.

Portland Sports Facts

46. Portland has three major professional sports teams: Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Portland Timbers (MLS), and Portland Thorns (NWSL).

47. From 1977 through 1995, the Trail Blazers held the longest streak in NBA history for sold-out games, with 814 consecutive home games being sold out. The Boston Red Sox has since surpassed their streak.

48. The only NBA team that’s based in the Pacific Northwest (including the US and Canadian sides) is the Portland Trail Blazers. They play at Moda Center.

49. Six players from The Trail Blazers have made the Hall of Fame: Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Dražen Petrović, Lenny Wilkens, Arvydas Sabonis, and Clyde Drexler.

Logos of two professional sports teams from Portland
Portland’s two most famous pro sports teams

50. The Trail Blazers have reached the NBA Finals three times, their first time being in 1977, with their second and third time being in 1990 and 1992.

51. In 1975, Portland’s MLS team took the name “Timbers” because the state of Oregon is known for its forestry and logging industry. They were nearly called The Pioneers.

52. Portland also has teams in underwater hockey, electric hockey, Australian rules football, and paintball.

53. Galen Rupp is a popular Portland Olympic icon, winning silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio, respectively.

Famous Portland People

54. Actors Joel David Moore, Alex Frost, Michael Cassidy, and Brendan Robinson were born in Portland.

55. Actresses Kaitlin Olson, Michelle Clunie, Maria Thayer, and Jillian Clare, as well as model Sara Jean Underwood, were born in Portland.

56. Singers Esperanza Spalding, Elliott Smith, and Tommy Thayer (from Kiss) are also from Portland.

57. Famous Portland bands include The Dandy Warhols, The Decemberists, Everclear, She & Hum, Chromatics, and Modest Mouse (formed in Washington but based in Portland)

Two famous people from Portland
Famous Portlanders Matt Groening and Esperanza Spalding

58. Authors Peter Rock, Cheryl Strayed, Chuck Palahniuk, and Katherine Dunn are from Portland.

59. Futurama, Disenchanted, and The Simpsons exist thanks to Portland’s genius, Matt Groening.

60. James Beard of Portland is one of American cuisine’s greatest influences.

61. Inventor Henry F. Phillips of the Phillips-head screw hailed from Portland.

Portland History Facts

62. The original inhabitants of Portland were the Multnomah tribe of the Chinookan people.

63. Early traders and trappers knew the location of present-day Portland beside the Willamette River as “The Clearing”.

Willamette River
The Willamette River, as early settlers would have seen it

64. Portland was founded in 1845 by two real-estate men from New England.

65. The Oregonian newspaper began publication in 1850. Today it is the oldest still published newspaper on the West Coast.

66. In 1851, Portland was incorporated, and Hugh O’Bryant became the city’s first mayor.

67. The first horse-drawn trolleys began operation in 1872.

68. In 1887, the first bridge across the Willamette River, Morrison Bridge, was built.

69. Union Station, the city’s main train station, opened in 1896.

70. Portland’s population surpassed 100,000 around the year 1900.

View of the main building of Union Station in Portland
Union Station

71. The Portland-Seattle railroad was completed in 1909.

72. In 1917, the Interstate Bridge (Oregon-Washington Bridge) opened.

73. The city’s first airport, Swan Island Airport, opened in 1926, but services ceased in 1940.

74. Portland International Airport opened in 1936.

75. The last original streetcar lines ceased operations in 1950.

76. Rose City Transit was established in 1956, taking over the city’s mass transit service.

77. Portland’s population surpassed half a million in the early 1990s.

Two tram cars in the air on the Portland Aerial Tram
Portland Aerial Tram

78. In 1990, Nike moved its headquarters to Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, and opened its first retail stair, Niketown, in downtown Portland.

79. In 2001, the Portland Streetcar began operating, the first new one of its kind in the country since WWII.

80. The Portland Aerial Tram opened in 2006 to carry passengers from the waterfront to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). It is one of only two urban aerial trams in the country, along with Roosevelt Island Tramway in NYC.

81. In 2016, Portland introduced Biketown, its bike-sharing program, with locally-headquartered Nike as its main sponsor.

82. In 2021, a heat wave brought the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city.

83. In 2023, Portland hosted the Good Food Awards for the first time ever. The event had been held in San Francisco for 11 years before that.

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