Portland is one of the coolest, most interesting and unique cities in the USA, where the people are friendly, the views are progressive and the vibe is chilled. If you want to find out more about this fascinating Oregon gem, here are 18 fun facts about amazing Portland…
Portland lies on top of a dormant volcanic field known as the Boring Lava Field
The area is named after the town of Boring, which lies 12 miles southeast of downtown Portland. As expected there isn’t a huge amount going on in Boring, but plenty of adventures to be had in Mount Tabor Park; on the edge of which it sits.
Grist magazine listed it in 2007 as the second greenest city in the world
The huge boom in Portland’s population in the following decade has chipped away significantly at their good work, but the intention is there! Although traffic on the I-5 is heavy and there is a plant nearby burning highly toxic fossil fuels, people fight it.
Many Portlanders choose to bike or walk to work, the city has excellent cycle paths, keeps track of tree canopies and has large swathes of green space within its boundaries. Initiatives such as neighbourhood composting, sustainable energy and extensive recycling keep it on the green track along with many active residents and a drive towards locally sourced food and produce. To quote a famous frog ‘it’s not easy being green’.
Portland is home to 139 breweries/microbreweries
The city remains at the forefront of the brewing revolution. As of December 2019 it had the 8th most breweries per capita in the nation, coming in behind its East Coast namesake and smaller cities like Asheville NC, Bend ORE and Boulder COLO.
Portland has been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications and news outlets
With over 600 licensed food trucks in pods across the city, some run by top chefs, Portland has one of the most robust and delicious street food scenes in North America.
Portland is also known as a leader in speciality coffee
We all know about the once independent roaster turned evil world-dominating coffee chain from Seattle but Portland could give its rival a run for its money in the caffeine stakes! In 2022 a staggering 80 homegrown roasters are recorded in the city and you can try Stumptown, Coava, Heart, Never Lab, Proud Mary and others at cafes citywide and beyond.
Portland has the highest number of strip clubs per capita in a city in the United States
There are no less than 54 strip joints across the city and it’s known for treating the dancers as progressively as it treats its eco policies. A friendly neighbourhood strip joint is just the thing in the city of Roses.
It’s home to the world’s smallest park
Mills End Park, located in the central reservation of downtown SW Naito Parkway is two feet across with an area of 452 sq inches and it consists of just a singular tree. The park was established in 1948 thanks to war veteran and journalist Dick Fagan, who recorded events in the park until his death in 1969.
It was declared a city park on St Patrick’s Day 1976 where it was the location of Paddy’s day celebrations. Over the years things have been added to the little park; a swimming pool for butterflies, statues, a miniature Ferris wheel and even a flying saucer or two! The park was moved six inches west of its original location to make way for improvements to the Parkway, the new park includes a cloverleaf border to protect the family of leprechauns believed to reside there.
Ranked the best city in America for vegans
Portland is hands down America’s most Vegan-Friendly city, with innovative vegan eats being served from a plethora of food carts, restaurants and gelaterias city-wide. Also, look out for vegan cosmetics and clothing brands too, this city makes veganism look easy!
It’s illegal to walk down the street with your shoes untied
Oregon became the 33rd state in 1859 and brought with it some unusual laws pertaining to car doors, baby’s on dashboards and shoelaces… to this day it is illegal to stroll the Portland streets with hazardous laces a-flapping! Best duck into a storefront and remedy the problem before the cops get ya
Oaks Amusement Park is one of the longest-running amusement parks in the US
The park, located in the Sellwood district of Southeast Portland, is the city’s only amusement park and has operated since 1905. Upon its opening, it was known as the “Coney Island of the Northwest” The iconic vintage roller rink located at the park has been used in several movies and TV shows.
As recently as 2012, Portland has been cited as the least religious city in the United States
Yep, if you have trouble keeping the faith you’ll be in excellent company here as over 42% of residents identified themselves as religiously “unaffiliated”.
In 2018 Portland was reported as having the second-highest LGBT population in the country
Portland has a long history in Gay Rights activism leading to the election of Sam Adams in 2008. As the first openly gay mayor in any major US city, Adams steered the helm until 2011. In 2014 Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned and in 2015 Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual governor when she was appointed Secretary of State.
In 2018 5.4% of residents in the Portland Metro area identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, making it the second-largest LGBTQ+ population in the whole of the US.
The City was named after Portland, Maine
The city was laid out in 1845 and its name was decided by two early residents on the flip of a coin! If it had gone the other way it would have been called Boston, after Boston Massachusetts.
At the turn of the 20th century, the city had a reputation as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world
The city was filthy and occupied by a ragged assortment of waifs, exiles and miners coming from the California gold rush along with sailors passing through the port.
This rum selection of residents made it a hub for organized crime and racketeering. Even after an economic surge post WW2, the city remained notorious through the 40’s and 50’s, for being a hive of government corruption and criminal activity such as gambling rackets and illegal nightclubs. This reputation turned around in the 60’s with the influx of hippie culture that shaped the progressive city we see today.
Portland is home to the largest independently owned bookstore in the world
Powell’s City of Books on Burnside occupies an entire city block and comprises 10 colour coded rooms that house over a million books, including a one of a kind rare book room. There’s also a cafe, of course, all that reading is thirsty work!
Portland is the most bike-friendly city in America
It has achieved platinum bike-friendly community status and was voted #1 in Bicycling Magazine for many years. There are 385 miles of bikeways on the ground in Portland and 95 more in progress. 6.3% of Portlanders chose to bike to work in 2017 against a national average of 0.5%!
Portland has some peculiar laws
Including one that prohibits being towed by a motor vehicle when on roller skates, scooters, or other human-powered devices. Sounds pretty reasonable to me!
Portland is clever
Perhaps thanks to Powell’s, Portland has a higher percentage of literate people on record than any other major city in America, making it a great place to form a quiz team!