25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Portland

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Sure, you know about the craft beer, the fancy coffee, and all those awesome food carts. Here are some nuggets about the Rose City maybe you might not have known.

1. Portland’s name was decided by a coin flip.

2. That’s because Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove wanted to name the area after their hometowns. (Had it gone the other way, it would be called “Boston.”)

3. The “Portland Penny” the two men flipped is still on display at the Oregon History Center.

4. Lovejoy and Pettygrove were probably onto something with their decision to rename the city. Before their coin flip, the settlement was known simply as “The Clearing.”

5. Portland is one of two U.S. cities that has a dormant volcano—Mount Tabor—within its city limits.

6. Portland has more microbrews and brewpubs than any other U.S. city.

7. It also has the most movie theaters and restaurants per capita.

8. Don’t you dare try pumping your own gas there. It’s a $500 fine.

9. But there’s a good chance gas won’t be an issue. Portland has more bicyclists per capita than any other U.S. city.

10. Portland elected the city's first female mayor, Dorothy McCullough Lee, in 1949.

11. She banned pinball machines.

12. Portland is home to the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park.

13. It’s about two feet across, or 452 square inches

14. You’ll need an alarm clock like everybody else in Portland, because it’s illegal to own a rooster for “private use.”

15. The city lacks poetic nicknames. It’s been affectionately called “Puddletown” and “Stumptown.”

16. That’s because, in its early days, Portland grew so quickly that tree stumps were left in the middle of the roads.

17. They left some trees, however. The city’s Forest Park is the largest natural urban wilderness in the country.

18. Portland’s streets and sidewalks still feature horse rings—iron or brass installations anchored to provide a place for tethering your horse.

19. The first wiki website was created in Portland in 1994.

20. Portland’s first pro hockey team’s name? The fearsome “Rosebuds.”

21. Portland’s massive rose garden was built during World War I, just in case bombs destroyed all of Europe’s rosebushes.

22. Water fountains, called Benson Bubblers, were installed in front of pubs years ago to keep people from drinking during work hours. It saved many lumberjacks from tipsy ax accidents.

23. Speaking of pubs, Portland is one of the few places outside of France where it’s okay to take your dog inside a tavern.

24. Portland’s annual naked bike ride draws nearly 13,000 riders.

25. If any of that sounds strange, consider that the city’s unofficial slogan is “Keep Portland Weird.” But according to City Vitals Weirdness index, it ranks only eleventh.

Now that you're a Portland expert, sign up for the Great Urban Race on April 12, 2014 for the smartest, most active way to test your knowledge!


All images courtesy of Thinkstock.

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February 12, 2014 - 2:00pm
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