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Posted on Nov 19, 2013 | 22 comments

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

At this time, we are currently living in Portland, Oregon. Drew has lived in Portland his entire life, while I moved here in 2002. For the past, almost 7 years, we have made a home together for ourselves in Portland.

This city has a wild and crazy history that makes for some rather interesting facts about Portland, Oregon. Some of these facts are why we’ve loved living here. Other things are why it’s time for us to leave. Well, those things and that Drew doesn’t want to only live in one place his whole life.

1. Portland was named by the flip of a coin. If it had landed on the other side, Portland would be known as Boston, Oregon.

2. Portland is home to many famous bands/musicians such as The Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders, The Dandy Warhols, Everclear, Pink Martini, Sleater-Kinney, The Shins, Blitzen Trapper, The Decemberists, and the late Elliott Smith.

3. Portland is the only major US city to have a dormant volcano within city limits. Dormant means the volcano is sleeping and there is the potential that it could wake up at some point.

4. In November of 2008, a judge dismissed charges against nude bicyclist on the grounds that Portland’s annual World Naked Bike Ride “was a well-established tradition in Portland.” In 2010, an estimated 13,000 attended Portland’s annual World Naked Bike Ride making it the world’s largest.

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

People come to Portland just to visit the food carts.

5. With over 700 food carts throughout the city, Portland has been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications.

6. Portland has the most literate people than any other city in the country. In other words, even the baristas have Masters Degrees.

7. The largest wilderness park within city limits is Portland’s own Forest Park with over 5,000 square acres.

8. At 2.5 feet in diameter, Portland has the smallest park within city limits in this country- Mill End Park.

9. Portland has more strip clubs, per capita, than any other city in the US.

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

Portland has some of the best public transportation in the nation, such as their light rail system.

10. The city is noted for its superior land-use planning and investment in their light rail system. With its public transportation networks and efficient land-use planning, Portland has been referred to as one of the most environmentally friendly, or “green”, cities in the world.

11. Being home to more than 60 breweries, Portland has more microbreweries than any other city in the world. No wonder Portland has been named the best city for happy hour in the United States.

12. Portland is one of the few destinations outside of France where you can take your dog into pubs.

13. During the dot-com boom of the mid-to-late 1990s, Portland saw an influx of people in their 20s and 30s, drawn to the promise of a city with abundant nature, urban growth boundaries, cheaper rent, and opportunities to work within the graphic design and Internet industries, as well as for companies such as Doc Martens, Nike, Adidas, and Wieden+Kennedy. Sound familiar?

14. The comedy series Portlandia, shoots on location in Portland, satirizing the city as a hub of liberal politics, organic food, alternative lifestyles, and anti-establishment attitudes. It’s all about living the “dream of the 90s” and its all pretty much true.

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

Chuck Palahniuk is known to attend Portland’s SantaCon as talked about in his book, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon.

15. Fiction novelist Chuck Palahniuk, makes his home in Portland. He shares about his time here in his book, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon

16. The famous White Stag sign in downtown Portland now reads Portland Oregon. At one time, it used to say Made in Oregon– a bone of contention among many Portlanders. The day after Thanksgiving a red bulb is lit on the stag’s nose to welcome the holiday season.

17. Over 100 years ago, Portland was considered the most dangerous city in the states, to go out for a drink. Not because you might end up dead, but instead shanghaied on a boat to another country.

18. Portland’s “Shanghai Tunnels”, lesser known as “Portland Underground”, connected the basements of many downtown hotels and pubs to the Willamette River’s waterfront. Originally built to move goods from docked ships, these tunnels quickly created a unique network of passages and thoroughfares that were used by unscrupulous individuals called “shanghaiiers” or “crimps”, to move drugged and kidnapped individuals unto ships and into slavery and prostitution.

19. Powell’s City of Books can be found in downtown Portland, the world’s largest independently owned bookstore.

Interesting Facts about Portland Oregon

With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why Portland is voted in the Top 5 of so many great categories!

20. Portland has been voted in the Top 5 for Greenest Cities, Cleanest Cities, Best City to Have a Baby, Largest Bicycle Commuter City, and Top Food and Bar Scene in the United States.

How many of these interesting facts about Portland, Oregon did you know?

All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.

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About Kimmy Hayes

Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.


  1. Having lived most of my life on the east coast, I have never visited Portland but I would love to. It seems so cool (I did know if it was named Portland because of a flip of a coin). The WNBR in Portland does seem so awesome. Have you ever done it?
    Rashaad recently posted…The Abbey DashMy Profile

  2. Just wondering, what’s your favorite place in Portland?
    Rashaad recently posted…The Abbey DashMy Profile

    • That’s a hard one. There’s so much to pick from. I really love the food scene here and all of the food carts. Both Washington Park and Forest Park are pretty great to spend time in.
      Kimmy Hayes recently posted…Kayak Kauai: Stand Up PaddleboardMy Profile

  3. Thanks for your post, Kimmy. I haven’t been to Portland, OR in some time, despite its relative proximity to Vancouver, BC. Nevertheless, given the entirety of the region, I view Portland as a “regional capital of Cascadia.” ;-)
    Henry | @fotoeins recently posted…Vancouver Honours: Chinese-Canadian CommunityMy Profile

  4. It seems to me that riding a bicycle in the nude would be SO uncomfortable – why would anyone want to?!

    Don’t forget VooDoo doughnuts!
    Patti recently posted…My 15-Minute Claim to Fame ~My Profile

  5. I love Portland, Oregon for all of its microbreweries, available vegetarian/vegan options, and of course Powell’s Bookstore! I just spent some time out west last Spring, and I found Portland to be one of my all time favorite American cities!
    Alex Morton recently posted…Travel Bloggers and Travel Twitter ChatsMy Profile

  6. I absolutely love this! As an Oregon native who now lives in Colorado (but speaks highly of home!), I have a few comments of my own to add to these numbers:

    6. Totally true. I have many friends working as bartenders or baristas who are well over-educated. I’m now working on my M.A. degree in English, and worried I’ll have to use it at Starbucks, ha.

    11. Craft beer is one of the things I miss most when traveling. Spoiled much?

    12. You can add Fort Collins to that list. I recently learned New Belgium allows dogs!

    18. Have you ever done the tour of the tunnels? I haven’t, but would love to!

    19. Powell’s is amazing.

    20. I’d also add that Portland’s self-given (and I heard, copyrighted) slogan is, “Keep Portland Weird.”
    Jessica J. Hill recently posted…7 Differences Between American Graduate and Undergraduate SchoolMy Profile

    • I have not fully been in the tunnels. I have been in the entrances of them. However, Drew has been in them. He even did some work cleaning them up.

      Keep Portland Weird was actually stolen from Austin, Tx. They came up with it first, so I didn’t include it.
      Kimmy Hayes recently posted…Travel Tips: Traveling with TechnologyMy Profile

  7. Hey there,

    A fellow Portland transplant here, now traveling the world since June 2013 after quitting the job, selling (almost) all possessions, etc. Your rundown of Portland’s quirks makes me miss the place a little here with my toes in the sand of Koh Samui, Thailand.

    All the best in pursuing your dream! You’re doing the right thing writing about your journey long before departure. I can’t wait to read about your adventures on the road.

    Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…Christmas in ThailandMy Profile

    • Thanks, Peter. I know we will miss things about Portland, but we know we will be back for a visit at some point to see friends and family. Hang in there with all of that horrible toes in the sand stuff. ;)
      Kimmy Hayes recently posted…Travel Goals for 2014My Profile

  8. Wow! Thanks for giving me so many more reasons to visit Portland! Do you know if the Portland Underground is accessible or if there are tours of it? Can’t wait to see the bookstore, oh and everything else!
    Stephanie Mayo recently posted…A Sleepless Night in ParisMy Profile


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