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Nicknames of Portland, Oregon

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Nicknames of Portland, Oregon

There are several well-known and commonly used nicknames referring to Portland, Oregon.

City of Roses

The official,[1] and also most common, nickname for Portland is The City of Roses[1][2][3] or Rose City.[4][5] The first known reference to Portland as "The City of Roses" was made by visitors to an 1888 Episcopal Church convention.

In 1889, the Portland Rose Society was founded, and promoted the planting of 20 miles (32 km) of Portland's streets with roses in advance of the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.[6] The nickname grew in popularity after the exposition, where Mayor Harry Lane suggested that the city needed a "festival of roses."[2]

The nickname is often attributed to Leo Samuel,[7] who founded the Oregon Life Insurance Company in 1906 (known today as Standard Insurance Company). Samuel, who moved to Portland in 1871,[8] grew roses outside his home. He placed a pair of shears outside his garden so people could snip a rose from his garden to take for themselves. This encouraged other people and businesses to plant their own roses outside their homes and business. Today, roses are still planted outside the Standard Insurance Company's home office building in downtown Portland.

The first Portland Rose Festival was held in 1907, and remains the city's major annual festival more than a century later.[6] In 1917, the International Rose Test Garden was established, and it now features more than 7,000 rose plants of 550 varieties. It is the oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States.

The "City of Roses" nickname inspired the name for the four-year-old female Asian elephant who arrived in 1953, Rosy. The first elephant ever to live in Oregon, she remained the matriarch of the Oregon Zoo's herd and gave birth to six calves before her death in 1993.[9] On August 31, 1994, her daughter Me-Tu became the first elephant in North America to have twins. On August 23, 2008, her granddaughter Rose-Tu (the surviving twin) gave birth to Samudra, the first third-generation elephant born in the United States.

On June 18, 2003, the city council unanimously approved a resolution adopting "City of Roses" as the city's official nickname.[1][2] There are many other cities and towns known as Rose City or The City of Roses.


Portland is known as Bridgetown or Bridge City due to numerous bridges crossing the Willamette and Columbia rivers.[5] The river width spanned varies from 850 to 7,850 feet (260 to 2,390 m), and all of the bridges also span shoreline roads, paths, or other ground at each shore. In total, there are twelve bridges over the Willamette, including nine in the central area, and three over the Columbia. The most recent of which, the Tilikum Crossing, opened on September 12th, 2015


A portmanteau of "beer" and "nirvana," Portland has more brewpubs per capita than any other city in the United States.[10][11] (Also see Beer in the United States and List of breweries in Oregon.) There are six Portland entries in "America’s 100 best beer bars: 2012" from Draft Magazine, more than any other city.[12][13]

Little Beirut

Staffers of former U.S. President Beirut because of the protesters he encountered during his visits.[14]


Portland is sometimes affectionately called P-Town by some locals.[15][16][17]

Rip City

The nickname Rip City is usually used in the context of the city's National Basketball Association (NBA) team, the Portland Trail Blazers.[18] The term was coined by the team's play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 18, 1971, the Blazers' first season.[19] In the days prior to the three-point field goal, Blazers guard Jim Barnett took an ill-advised long distance shot that nonetheless went in, giving the new team hope for a victory against the powerful Lakers. Excited, Schonely exclaimed "Rip City! All right!" Schonely admits that he has no idea how he came up with the expression, but it became synonymous with the team and the city of Portland.[20]


Stumptown was coined in a period of phenomenal growth in Portland after 1847. The city was growing so rapidly that the stumps of trees cut down to make way for roads were left behind until manpower could be spared to remove them. In some areas the stumps remained for so long that locals whitewashed them to make them more visible. They also used them to cross the street without sinking into the mud.[21][22] Captain John C. Ainsworth commented that there were "more stumps than trees" in Portland in the early 1850s.[21][23]


The city of Portland is nicknamed PDX after the International Air Transport Association airport code for the Portland International Airport which is within the city limits. For example, the domain name for Portland State University of was chosen in 1987, since had already been given to Pennsylvania State University in the previous year.[24] As well, many Portland businesses include pdx in their domain names to denote their Portland location.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Stern, Henry (June 19, 2003). "Name comes up roses for P-town: City Council sees no thorns in picking ‘City of Roses’ as Portland's moniker". The Oregonian, p. D1.
  2. ^ a b c City Flower. City of Portland Auditor's Office – Archives. Accessed 2010-04-17.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ StanCorp Financial History Page
  8. ^ History of StanCorp Financial Group
  9. ^ "Elephant matriarch Rosy dies at 43". (January 29, 1993). The Oregonian, p. C1.
  10. ^ [1] Beervana! Portland, Oregon. Retrieved November 19, 2011
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ The next most frequently listed cities are Chicago, 5; Los Angeles, 5; Philadelphia, 5; Milwaukee, 4; Seattle, 4; New York City, 3; Raleigh, 3; San Diego, 3
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^
  23. ^ MacColl cites the "4 March 1877, entry in 'Autobiographical Account', John C. Ainsworth Papers, OHS; Oregonian; 4 December 1900"
  24. ^
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