In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland.
- Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
- Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”
- The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
- Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
- The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.
Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!
You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.
For more information on Portland history, view the past and present photos at Portland Then and Now or check out the city’s Portland Timeline.
Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:
Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!