Riverport in northwest Oregon, USA; on the Willamette River near its confluence with the Columbia River, 173 km/108 mi from the Pacific; population (2000) 529,100. It is the state's largest city, and a processing and distribution centre for timber, aluminium, grain, and livestock. Industries include food-processing, fishing, and the manufacture of wool, paper, lumber machinery, and electronic equipment.
HistoryPortland was settled in 1829 on an early American Indian site, and laid out in 1844. The city grew rapidly as a commercial and regional centre because of its position on the Oregon Trail.
Portland was named after Portland, Maine. The Hudson's Bay Company, set up in Vancouver in 1824 under John McLoughlin, was important in opening up the area. Growth was stimulated by the development of Alaska, the Gold Rush, the arrival of the North Pacific Railroad, and trade with Japan and the Pacific basin.
Location Situated in the fertile Willamette Valley, Portland lies astride the river and has extensive harbourage. The centre is located on the west bank, and its districts are connected by several fine bridges. Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, and other peaks of the Cascade Range are visible from the city.
Features Portland's older buildings are preserved in the Yamhill and Skidmore Historic Districts, notably Old Church (1882), City Hall (1895), and the Pittock Mansion. The John McLoughlin House (1846) is in the McLoughlin Historic District, with Victorian houses and churches. The history of the Oregon Trail is displayed in the End of the Trail Interpretative Center. Institutions of higher education include Lewis and Clerk College (1867), the University of Portland (1901), Reed College (1909), and Portland State University (1946). The Rose Festival, held annually in mid-June, is based in Washington Park Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. Forest Park ((5,000 acres/2,025 hectares) is the largest urban wilderness in the USA.
Portland's Chinatown was once the second-largest Chinese community in the USA, but racist attacks in the 1880s, fuelled by unemployment, resulted in its decline.
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