The Willamette River runs through the center of Portland, dividing the east side of the city from the west. Downtown Portland straddles the river, with the east side occupying mostly the high ground to the east of the river, and the west side descending to the river level. A series of bridges, including the Steel and Broadway bridges, connect the east and west sides of downtown.
The Portland metropolitan area includes Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, and Yamhill counties and had an estimated population of 2,453,168 in 2019, making it the 26th-largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Founded in 1845, Oregon City was the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains. Portland developed rapidly beginning in the 1860s, following the completion of thebeit short-lived
Oregon and California Railroad line to the city in 1887. Portland’s first streetcar line opened the same year, and the city’s industry began to diversify from its early base in lumber and fishing.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Oregon Country in November 1805, and by the end of the month they had reached the Willamette River near its confluence with the Columbia. By late December they had paddled upriver to near present-day Portland and reached a point a few miles south of the modern city.
Portland, Oregon, was incorporated as a city on February 8, 1851. The first city election was held on July 8 of that year, in which James B. Stephens was elected mayor. The city continued to grow during the 1850s, and by 1860 it had a population of nearly 3,000.
The Oregon Territorial Legislature enacted a charter for the City of Portland on January 31, 1866. The charter provided for a mayor–council form of government, with a six-member city council. The first mayor under the new charter was Edward D. Couch, who was elected on June 5, 1866.
In 1867, the city began construction of the first of eightmississippi class battleships, the USS Portland.
The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1883 and the completion of the transcontinental Union Pacific Railroad in 1884 brought an influx of new residents and increased Portland’s prominence as a major shipping center.
In November 1885, the city held a mayoral election in which Harrison Luelling was elected as the city’s firstPopulist mayor.
In 1889, a group of Portland businessmen toured the East Coast to raise money for the construction of a new City Hall. The structure, completed in 1895, is one of the finest Beaux-Arts buildings in the Northwest.
On June 6, 1903, the Portland Rose Festival was founded. The festival, which is still held annually, is the oldest continuous festival of its kind in North America.
In the early years of the 20th century, Portland became known as the “City of Roses” because of the large number of rose bushes planted throughout the city.
In 1916, the city adopted a new charter that created a commission form of government. The charter also annexed large areas of land on the outskirts of the city, including the suburbs of St. Johns and Albina.
In the 1920s, Portland’s population surpassed 200,000, making it the largest city in the Northwest. The city continued to grow during the decade, with the construction of a new Civic Auditorium, the opening of a new city hall, and the completion of the Broadway Bridge.
The Great Depression caused a decrease in Portland’s population, as people left the city in search of work. However, the city’s economy recovered in the late 1930s, and by 1940 the population had reached its pre-Depression level.
World War II brought new growth to Portland, as the city became a center for shipbuilding and airplane manufacturing. After the war, the city experienced a housing boom, as returning soldiers and their families moved to Portland in search of a better life.
In the 1950s, Portland’s African-American community began to grow, with the arrival of migrants from the South. The city’s African-American population peaked in 1970 at 12.5%.
In the 1960s, Portland’s Japanese-American community also began to grow, with the arrival of migrants from Hawaii. The city’s Japanese-American population peaked in 1980 at 4%.
In the 1970s, Portland’s Latino community began to grow, with the arrival of migrants from Mexico and Central America. The city’s Latino population peaked in 1990 at 9%.
In the 1980s, Portland’s Asian-American community began to grow, with the arrival of migrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The city’s Asian-American population peaked in 2000 at 6%.
In the 1990s, Portland’s Native American community began to grow, with the arrival of migrants from reservations in the West. The city’s Native American population peaked in 2010 at 2%.
Today, Portland is a diverse city, with a population that is evenly divided between whites, blacks, Asians, and Latinos. The city is also home to a large number of Native Americans, as well as people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2019, Portland had an estimated population of 654,743, making it the 26th most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest after Seattle. Approximately 2,424,955 people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3,228,314.
Portland developed rapidly near the end of the 19th century, serving as a gateway for western expansion. The city’s economy relies mostly on the service sector; in 2019 the industry employs 82.28% of the Portland workforce. According to the 2010 Census, Portland had the highest percentage of workers who commute by bicycle of any major U.S. city, and it has been rated the most “bike-friendly” city in the country.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–06) landed at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, making Portland the first U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains. Fort Vancouver, established in 1824 by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) as the fur trading post of Fort George, was the first permanent European settlement in what is now Oregon. In 1845, the HBC sold the fort to the United States. Over the next few decades,settlers arrived and land was claimed around the Willamette River, including present-day downtown Portland. On June 2, 1851, the first boat load of settlers departed from Missouri on the Oregon Trail.
Oregon was admitted to the Union as the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. After the American Civil War, Portland grew rapidly, serving as a terminal for the export of wheat from the Willamette Valley; by the 1880s it was the world’s leading wheat port. It also became a major lumber center, including shipbuilding. On June 8, 1907, a delegation from Portland led by mayor Harry Lane went to Salem and successfully lobbied the Oregon State Legislature to make Portland the permanent state capital.
In the early years of the 20th century, Portland became notorious as a haven for criminals on the run from the law in other states, particularly California. This reputation came to an end with the construction of the Oregon Coast Highway in the 1930s, which made Portland accessible by car to California.
During World War II, the six Oregon shipyards built one-fifth of the merchant marine fleet and one-third of the Navy’s auxiliary vessels. Portland’s location at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers allowed ready access to both the Pacific Ocean and the interior of the country, making it an ideal location for shipyards and other war-related industries.
After the war, Portland’s economy declined for several decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, the city faced several urban and economic challenges, as it reoriented itself from defense industries to consumer products and services. The famous Oregon Trail, which began in Missouri and ended in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, helped settlers travel west in the mid-19th century. Along the way, the trail passes through historical landmarks such as Chimney Rock, Independence Rock, and Fort Laramie.
In the early 1980s, the city’s economy began to rebound as the Portland Timbers soccer team brought national attention to the city, and the high-tech industry began to expand in the suburbs. The 1990s saw a resurgence in downtown Portland, with the completion of several new office towers, the opening of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the regeneration of the Pearl District.
Today, Portland is a thriving metropolis with a diverse economy, and is known for its green spaces, its pro-environmental policies, and its support for the arts. The city is home to a number of historical landmarks, including the Oregon Trail, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Fort Vancouver.
Famous People of Portland
As the largest city in Oregon, Portland is home to a number of famous people. Here are just a few of the most famous people of Portland.
1. Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian actor and producer. He is best known for his roles in movies such as Deadpool, Green Lantern, and The Proposal. Reynolds was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, but he moved to Portland when he was two years old. He attended kitsilano Secondary School before moving back to Vancouver to pursue his acting career.
2. Matt Groening
Matt Groening is an American cartoonist, writer, and producer. He is best known for creating the animated television show The Simpsons. Groening was born in Portland and attended Lincoln High School. He later attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
3. Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant is an American film director, screenwriter, and painter. He is best known for directing movies such as Drugstore Cowboy, Good Will Hunting, and Milk. Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but he moved to Portland when he was five years old. He attended Washington High School and then the University of Oregon.
4. Courtney Love
Courtney Love is an American musician, actress, and visual artist. She is best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Hole. Love was born in San Francisco, California, but she moved to Portland when she was two years old. She attended high school in Eugene, Oregon, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her music career.
5. Ken Kesey
Ken Kesey was an American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure. He is best known for his novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion. Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, but he moved to Portland when he was three years old. He attended the University of Oregon, where he became a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.