Portland is known to attract a creative crowd,
and the thriving cultural scene reflects the
population’s interest in fine art, film, music,
dance, and more.
The Portland Art Museum lies at the center
of the city’s cultural district. It features strong
Native American and Northwest collec-
tions, complemented by major exhibitions
from internationally acclaimed artists. The
two buildings that make up the museum are
separated by a public sculpture garden.
An alternative museum experience can be
had at The Portland Art Museum on Fridays
after 5 with an entrance fee of just $5. These
evenings offer a more social adventure, with
interactive exhibits and refreshments.
Movie lovers will find plenty of places to
watch a flick in Portland, but the experience
begins before the movies starts at many
neighborhood theaters where food and drinks
are served in ornate and historical settings.
The Hollywood Theater is the perfect
example. The intricate facade was designed
after the Baths of Carcalla (the second largest
Roman public baths), and the space is now
owned by a nonprofit that aims to connect
the local community to the art of film, while
preserving this historical landmark.
There’s no sales tax: The price on the tag is the price you
pay in Portland, Oregon. Our neighbors in Washington
often hop the border to make use of Oregon’s tax free
You’re probably mispronouncing “Couch” and “
Willamette”: Couch rhymes with “pooch.” Portlanders will
immediately identify a newcomer if they want to meet
for drinks on “couch”, as in that piece of furniture in
your living room. Willamette is pronounced “will-AM-it”.
Willamette Valley Vineyards sells t-shirts that read, “It’s
Portland’s iconic drinking fountains are called “Benson
Bubblers”: These iconic drinking fountains can be found
around the downtown area, continuously pumping
clean drinking water out of their upturned copper bowls.
There are 52 of the fountains, and 74 of the one-bowl
varieties, mostly concentrated in the downtown area.
Domesticated elk once roamed the city streets of Portland: The elk that occupied the land before it became
the city of Portland weren’t giving up so easily when
people moved in.
Portland is home to the world’s largest independent
book store: Powell’s City of Books, located on Burnside in
downtown Portland, claims to be the largest independent
bookstore in the world, offering both used and new
options. The stacks of shelves occupy one city block —
that’s 68,000 square feet of books. Better get reading!
The city was almost called Boston: The flip of a coin
determined which New England town Portland would
take its name after. The two founders of Portland —
Francis Pettygrove from Portland, Maine and Asa Lovejoy
from Boston, Massachusetts — both wanted to name the
city after their hometowns. A copper, one cent piece,
now on display at the Oregon Historical Society Museum,
made the decision for them.
It’s illegal to pump your own gas: An attendant will
be right with you. Don’t touch that pump in Oregon.
Otherwise you could be subject to a $500 fine.
Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is from here: Ned
Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, and Mayor Quimby all got
their start in Portland. You’ll recognize many landmarks
in Portland share the same name as characters from
the long-running cartoon, The Simpsons. That’s because
Portland is the creator’s hometown.
There’s an extinct volcano within city limits: Mt. Tabor is
a volcanic cone, with a park on top, located at the far
Southeast part of town. It’s a popular place for hiking,
bike riding, and watching the sunset over the city.
The tiniest park in the world lies in Portland: A little bigger
than a large pizza, Mill Ends Park is 2 feet in diameter. It’s
not quite big enough to enjoy a picnic lunch, but it sure is
cute. It’s located in the median strip of SW Naito Park way,
and according to the Guinness Book of World Records,
it’s the tiniest park in the world.
Portland has become a trendy place to talk about in recent years. Even if you’ve never been, you probably have an impression of what you think Portland is like, thanks to popular TV shows like “Portlandia”
picking apart the city’s cultural quirks. And while many of the jokes about Portland are spot on, there’s a lot
to learn about Portland that you won’t discover until you get here and experience it for yourself.
You Likely Didn’t Know