|Portland Oregon Overview
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Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon, and county seat of Multnomah County. It straddles the Willamette River immediately south of its confluence with the Columbia River. Portland is the third largest city in the Pacific Northwest after Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, with a population of 556,370 (July 1, 2005 estimate). Approximately 2 million live in the surrounding metropolitan area (MSA), the 24th-largest in the U.S.
Portland is known as "The City of Roses" or "Rose City" - its climate is ideal for their cultivation, and the city has many rose gardens, including the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. Other nicknames include "Stumptown" (due to early logging to clear land for development), "Bridgetown" (due to its numerous bridges), "Puddletown" (due to the rainy weather), "River City" (due to its proximity to the Willamette and Columbia), "PDX" (after the city's airport code), and "P-town".
Portland started as a spot known as "the clearing", which was on the banks of the Willamette about halfway between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. In 1843, William Overton saw great commercial potential for this land, but lacked the funds required to file a land claim. He struck a bargain with his partner Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts: for 25¢, Overton would share his claim to the 640-acre (2.6 km²) site. Overton later sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove and Lovejoy both wished to name the new city after their own home town; this was decided with a coin toss, which
At the time of its incorporation on February 8, 1851 Portland had over 800 inhabitants, a steam sawmill, a log cabin hotel, and a newspaper, the Weekly Oregonian.
Portland's location, with access both to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette and the Columbia rivers and to the agricultural Tualatin Valley via the "Great Plank Road" through a canyon in the West Hills (the route of current-day U.S. Highway 26), gave it an advantage over nearby ports, and it grew quickly. It remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattle's deepwater harbor was connected to the rest of the mainland by rail, affording an inland route without the treacherous navigation of the Columbia River.
The first known reference to Portland as "The City of Roses" was made by visitors to an 1888 Episcopal Church convention, the nickname growing in popularity after the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition where Mayor Harry Lane suggested that the city needed a "festival of roses" The first Portland Rose Festival was held two years later, and remains the city's major annual festival a century later.
Geography and climate
Portland lies at the northern end of Oregon's most populated region, the Willamette Valley. (As the metropolitan area is culturally and politically distinct from the rest of the valley, local use often excludes Portland from the valley proper.) Although almost all of Portland lies within Multnomah County, small portions of the city lie within Clackamas and Washington counties, with mid-2005 populations estimated at 785 and 1,455, respectively.
Portland lies on top of an extinct Plio-Pleistocene volcanic field. The Boring Lava Field includes at least 32 cinder cones and small shield volcanoes lying within a radius of 13 miles of Kelly Butte, which is approximately four miles east of downtown Portland.
Portland's climate is temperate and seasonal. The average rainfall ranges between approximately 40 to 45 inches per year depending on location. Portland averages 155 days with measureable precipitation a year. Although it lies in the Marine West Coast climate zone, Portland shows many characteristics of a Mediterranean climate. The city has mild wet winters, and warm, dry summers. The summer months (June through September) mark the driest period, averaging no more than one inch of rain per month, but it is not uncommon for summer months to receive little or no precipitation. November through April is the rainy season, with 80 percent of the total annual
rainfall occurring in those months. Winter low temperatures hover around 35 F (2 C), and summer highs average around 80 F (27 C), however summer heat waves with temperatures exceeding 100 F (38 C) do occur on occasion. But for the most part, the Portland summers are very pleasant with abundant sunshine. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Portland was ?3 F (?19 C), set on February 2, 1950. Portland recorded a record high temperature of 107 F (42 C) numerous times, and temperatures of 100 F (38 C) have been recorded in each of the months from May through September.
Parks and attractions
Portland is proud of its parks and its legacy of preserving open spaces. Parks and Greenspace planning dates back to John Charles Olmsted's 1903 Report to the Portland Park Board, inspiring generations of urban greenspace advocates. In 1995, voters in the Portland metropolitan region passed a regional bond measure to acquire valuable natural areas for fish, wildlife, and people. Ten years later, more than 8,100 acres of ecologically valuable natural areas had been purchased and permanently protected for the public.
Mt. Tabor Park is focused on an extinct volcano, making Portland one of two cities in the continental US with an extinct volcano within its city limits, the other being Bend, Oregon.
Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, with over 5,000 acres . Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park (a two-foot-diameter circle, the park's area is only about 0.3 square meters). Washington Park is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre park was built in 1974 after Harbor Drive was removed and now plays host to large events throughout the year. Portland's downtown also features two groups of contiguous city blocks dedicated for park space; they are referred to as the North and South Park Blocks.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI, is located on the east bank of the Willamette River across from downtown Portland, and contains a variety of hands-on exhibits covering the physical sciences, life science, earth science, technology, astronomy, and early childhood education. OMSI also has an OMNIMAX Theater and is home to the USS Blueback (SS-581) submarine.
Portland is also home to Portland Classical Chinese Garden, an authentic representation of a Suzhou-style walled garden. Local construction workers provided the site preparation and foundation, and dozens of workers from Suzhou, using material from China, constructed its walls and other structures, including a tea house.
The only state park in the area is Tryon Creek State Park; its creek still has a run of steelhead. Adjacent to the park is the Tryon Life Community Farm, an aspiring urban ecovillage and educational center.
Portlandia, a statue on the west side of the Portland Building, is the second-largest hammered-copper statue in the U.S.
The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, which immortalizes three of the award-winning author's best known characters with bronze sculptures, quote plaques, and a fountain, is located in Grant Park on N.E. 33 Avenue, between Knott Street and Broadway next to Grant High School. The garden is appropriately located in the Northeast section of the city where most of Cleary's characters lived, and is just a few blocks from the real Klickitat Street of Henry Huggins fame.
Leach Botanical Garden is a 15.6 acre botanical garden located at 6704 SE 122nd Ave. Its emphasis is on plants of the Pacific Northwest. It was donated to the city in 1973 by the Leach family.
Audubon Society of Portland (http://www.audubonportland.org/), founded 1903, is one of the largest local Audubon chapters in the country with over 10,000 members. The Chapter's book store, wildlife care center, and administrative offices are located on a 143 acre sanctuary nestled against Forest Park only 5 minutes from downtown Portland. The sanctuary trails are open to the public.