Portland, United States of America

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Known as the ‘City of Roses’, Portland is in northwestern Oregon and is the largest city in the state. The city is renowned for its setting in the Willamette Valley on the Willamette River with the Coast Range Mountains located to the west and the Cascade Range to the east. The seat of Multnomah County, Portland is an economic and business centre for the Pacific Northwest. It is also a major port.


Originally settled by Chinook Indians who fished and hunted around the Colombia and Willamette rivers, Portland was designed and constructed in 1845 by Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove. The duo tossed a coin to decide who got to name the new city and Pettygrove won, deciding on Portland, after his hometown of the same name in Maine.

In the nineteenth century, as a growing port and centre for the lumber trade, the city had a reputation for gambling, prostitution and opium dealing. Portland became more gentrified in the early part of the twentieth century after the arrival of a new railroad and the growth of the salmon fishing industry in the nearby Pacific. In 1905 the city hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, attracting more investment to the area. The advent of hydro-electric power from the Grand Coulee and Bonneville Dams in the 1930s and 40s helped create a boom for the developing aluminium smelting and shipbuilding industries.

After the war, competition from up-and-coming ports such as Seattle caused a slump until urban redevelopment projects were introduced in the 1970s to regenerate the downtown area. Portland’s economy then successfully diversified into new, hi-tech industries while its reputation for positive environmental practices attracted residents to the city.

Modern City

The city is served by Portland International Airport, while the city’s port has five marine terminals and a ship repair yard. Two interstate highways also serve Portland and there is a Greyhound bus terminal and an Amtrak railway station. The MAX light railway connects the city centre to the suburbs and the Tri-Met bus system provides transportation throughout the city.

Portland has a diverse economy with manufacturing and regional government among the city’s largest employers. Nike is based there. Portland is also an important centre for the electronics industry with major corporations including Tektronix. Hi-tech computer and medical industries are also prominent.

Institutes of higher education include Portland State University, Reed College, Lewis and Clark College, the University of Portland, Concordia University (Oregon) and the Oregon Health Science University.

Places of Interest

The post-modern Portland Building, built in 1982, is a famous landmark. Cultural institutions include the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Oregon History Centre. The Portland Center for the Performing Arts has a symphony orchestra and opera and ballet companies.

Large parks include Forest Park while Washington Park has the Metro Washington Park Zoo, a forestry centre and the International Rose Test Gardens. The Rose Garden arena hosts the basketball games of the Portland Trail Blazers.

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