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Quick Facts About Portland

Overview

  • Population: 593,820 (US Census Bureau, 2011); 2,260,000 in the Portland metropolitan area (U.S. Census, 2010)
  • Area: 145 square miles (375 square kilometers)
  • Elevation: Average height of 173 feet above sea level (52.5 meters)
  • Time zone: Pacific
  • Distance to ocean: 78 miles from downtown (125 kilometers)
  • Distance to a mountain glacier: 65 miles to the Palmer Glacier above Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood (104 kilometers)
  • Road conditions: Oregon Department of Transportation (www.tripcheck.com)
  • Average temperatures: January, 39.6 F (4.2 C); July, 76 F (24.4 C)
  • Average rainfall: 36.3 inches (92.2 centimeters) — less than Atlanta, Houston, Birmingham, Indianapolis or Seattle — and without that nasty humidity

Transit

Portland Newspapers

Portland Odds & Ends

  • Lots of Parks: 15% of Portland’s land area, nearly 13,000 acres, is park and open space. Forest Park, at over 5,100 acres, is the largest forested area within city limits in the United States. Mill Ends Park is the smallest park in the world at 452 square inches.
  • Number of hens a Portland household may keep without a permit: 3
  • Number of roosters: 0
  • Notable Bookstore: Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world.
  • Beer and Coffee: Portlanders drink more microbrewed beer and gourmet coffee than anyone in the United States.
  • Portland was a coin flip from becoming “Boston, Oregon!” Two early settlers, Asa Lovejoy from Boston, MA and Francis Pettygrove from Portland, ME, flipped a coin to name the town in 1845. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses. Both men now have streets named after them, and the “Portland Penny” is enshrined at the Oregon History Center.
  • Nicknames for Portland: Rose City, The City of Roses, Stumptown (for the stumps left years after clearing), PDX (the airport), River City, Rip City (Trailblazer fans), and for many of us…home.
  • Portland’s Two Rivers: The Willamette River (pronounced “will-AAH-met”) divides Portland into its east and west sections; About seven miles north of downtown, the mighty Columbia River divides the state of Oregon and the state of Washington.
  • No Sales Tax: Oregon is one of five states without a sales tax (the others are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire). We do have a fairly high-income tax (9%). The overall tax burden in Oregon, however, is slightly below the average of all fifty states.
  • You can’t pump your own gas: Oregon is one of only two states (the other is New Jersey) where drivers can’t pump their own gas – you must have an attendant do it.
  • Urban Growth Boundary: A few decades ago, in order to prevent sprawling development from eating up farmland around cities, Oregon enacted laws restricting development outside of certain urban areas and encouraging higher density new development close to urban centers. Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary has been effective in increasing the density of housing in Portland without sprawling suburbs far from the city. A half-hour drive from anywhere in Portland gets you to undeveloped farm and forest land.
  • Mail-In Voting: Oregon hasn’t had polling places for over a decade. All voting is done by a mail-in paper ballot. You can also drop your ballot off up to 8PM on election day at designated polling drop-off points, in case you are late. The system works: it’s convenient, cost-efficient, and Oregon’s voter turnout is one of the highest in the United States. It’s also easier to learn and decide about complicated ballot measures at home rather than in a polling booth.
  • Non-Smoking Restaurants: All restaurants and bars in Oregon are completely non-smoking. Washington State adopted such a law a few years earlier.