Portland Public Transit: Trains, Buses, Streetcars
Living in Portland Without A Car
Finding an Apartment or Rental in Portland
Where in Portland should I live?
Random Facts and Portland Trivia
Portland Frequently Asked Questions
Portland Grocery Stores
Top 5 Things To Do Before Renting a Place in Portland
Goose Hollow and King's Hill
The Pearl District
Beaverton - West Suburbs
Lake Oswego - South of Portland
Orenco Station - Hillsboro
Tanasbourne - Hillsboro/Beaverton
Tualatin Town Center - Southwest of Portland
Portland was almost "Boston, Oregon"! Portland was named by the flip of a coin by its two original settlers, Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove. Lovejoy wanted to name the new settlement after his hometown of Boston; Pettygrove wanted to name it after his hometown of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove won the coin toss, best two out of three.
Portland's Two Rivers: The Willamette River (pronounced "will-AAAAAH-met") divides Portland into its east and west sections; "Downtown" is technically only the part on the west side of the river. 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 those rare states that has no sales tax (except on hotels and car rentals). We do make up for it by having a fairly high income tax (9%). However, when you weigh the overall tax burden of Oregon, we usually come out about average of all the 50 states.
Can't pump your own gas. Oregon is one of only two states (New Jersey is the other) where ordinary people can't pump their own gas - you must have an attendant do it. I'm not kidding!!! Native Oregonians seem to love this tradition and every attempt to get rid of this rule has been defeated. It is kind of nice in the winter time when it's cold and you don't want to stand in the rain and pump your gas or just don't want to get your hands dirty.
White city: Portland is the whitest big city in the US, according to recent census data (over 70% white). Today Portland is considered liberal and tolerant - although it's easier to be "tolerant" when most people are of the same race. But, Portland has a racist past that consigned blacks to a few neighborhoods in NE Portland. For better or worse, today those black neighborhoods are becoming more and more white ("gentrified") as housing prices skyrocket in Portland's urban neighborhoods, enticing poor and middle class homeowners in these neighborhoods to sell out.
Portland Gathering Places: Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown (on the MAX line, between Yamhill/Morrison and Broadway/6th Ave) is the city's semi-official Meeting Place - a red brick square where little events are staged, bands sometimes play, etc. Workers downtown can sit on the steps on a nice day and eat their lunch - a great place for people watching, also (just watch out for the mostly harmless homeless people inhabiting corners of the square). In the summer, there are fair-type events almost every other weekend at Waterfront Park (west bank of the Willamette) downtown. First week of June is the biggest part of the Rose Festival, complete with carnival rides, music, etc. July 4th Weekend there's the Waterfront Blues Festival (enough blues music to satisfy everyone - but very cheap to get in). There's also an Oregon Brewer's Festival (beer "tasting"), the Bite of Portland (food "tasting"), and a few other events.
The Portland Rose Festival : each year for about a month (mostly in the first week of June), the city celebrates its annual Rose Festival, including two big parades (Starlight Parade Saturday night, Grand Floral Parade following Saturday morning), the crowning of the Rose Festival Queen, festivities at Waterfront Village (at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, carnival ride-type stuff), dragon boat races on the Willamette River, etc. Several big ships, largely from the US Coast Guard and Navy, come into port and tie up at Waterfront Park, where tours are usually available.
Portland Bus Mall and Fareless Square: SW 5th and 6th Avenues (one-way streets) downtown are reserved for city buses, most of which converge on these two streets - known collectively as the "Bus Mall" - where people can make connections.
All city buses and trains are FREE to ride on the Bus Mall and for some blocks around it in what is known as Fareless Square. On the east side of the Willamette River, Fareless Square extends along the MAX line past the Oregon Convention Center to Lloyd Center. When you get on a bus, just tell the driver "Fareless, please!" - no fare or ticket is required in this zone. In June of 2009, TriMet proposed ending Fareless Square for buses and limiting the fareless rides to MAX and the Streetcar only.
Urban Growth Boundary: A few decades ago, in order to prevent sprawling development from eating up farm land around cities, the State of Oregon enacted a law preventing development outside of certain urban areas and enforcing density of new development close to the center. Portland's Urban Growth Boundary has been effective in increasing the density of housing in Portland without a wild sprawl of suburbs too far outside the city. It's striking that you can drive 20 miles west of Portland and be out in almost undeveloped farm land and wilderness.
But Oregon's land protection laws have lately come under attack. In 2004, voters approved a ballot measure called "Measure 37" that is supposed to require the government to compensate landowners for a loss in value of their land due to government regulation. Say for example someone outside the Urban Growth Boundary decides they want to build a housing development on their farm land but can't due to the UGB. Then Oregon would have to compensate the landowner. This has all been very controversial, because it would in effect destroy these land use laws - there's no way the state could afford to pay all these claims. Measure 37 has been challenged in the courts by environmental groups. Stay tuned.
Nicknames for Portland: Rose City (or "The City of Roses.") Stumptown (because when the city was founded, many trees were cut down but the stumps were not removed for many years after). And..."PDX", which is the abbreviation for Portland International Airport, is sometimes used as a nickname for the whole city, not just the airport.
All Oregon Voting is By Mail!!! Oregon hasn't had polling places anywhere in the state for over a decade. All voting is done by a mail-in paper ballot. (You can also drop your ballot off up until 8PM on election day at a drop-off point.) Oregon's voter turnout is one of the highest in the United States. It's cheaper than running polling places, and it's more convenient. You don't have to wait in any lines to vote or take off work on election day. You can fill out your ballot at the kitchen table at your leisure. It's awesome! It's surprising that the rest of the US hasn't adopted this idea yet. (Washington State is getting close.)
If you fail to mail ballots by the Friday before election day, you can drop them off at one of these sites.
As of January 2009, all restaurants and bars in Oregon are completely non-smoking. Washington State adapted such a law a few years earlier.
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