New trends are always being created in Portland, without effort or when others are deemed old and out-of-date. For example, the stickers that have been circulating various bumpers of hybrids, Subaru’s and fenders advising others to “Keep Portland Normal,” prove that change is consistent. And this originality makes Portland distinct from other places, giving us a television series on IFC and a nationally known doughnut shop that specializes in unconventionally flavored (and shaped) baked goods. Portland is weird, normal, perpetual, and the list of adjectives will continue for years to come. Here are a few things that you may have not known about Portland because let’s face it, it is difficult to keep up with this place.
1. Benson Bubblers were created to discourage employees from drinking alcohol during working hours. Simon Benson developed the idea to put 20 of the freshwater fountains we see today, scattered throughout the city of bridges and beer, when he smelt the strong scent of alcohol in his mill one day. The workers used the excuse that there was no fresh drinking water around the city, so they were left to drink what flow from Portland taps. Once the fountains were distributed around the city, beer consumption decreased by 25%. Today there are 41 Benson Bubblers, with one in Portland’s sister city, Sapporo, Japan.
2. The city was almost named Boston. But after a coin toss between Francis Pettygrove, a man from Portland, Maine, and Asa Lovejoy, from Boston, Massachusetts, the city was named “Portland” by chance. Or was it fate?
3. Portland grew so quickly that the stumps of trees were left in the middle of roads, because no one had the spare time to remove them. Local residents found they could jump from stump to stump to avoid the muddy, unpaved streets, hence the nickname “Stumptown.”
4. Portland has its own roller derby team called the Rose City Rollers. You may have seen them around town. Because how could you miss a flock of women in roller skates and fish net tights?
5. What is the naked bike ride supporting, anyways? Portland annually participates in the World Naked Bike Ride, which happens in cities all over the world. Some riders are protesting oil dependency, but many others just enjoy the thrill of riding on a bike naked through our beautiful city. Being naked is indecent exposure, according to Portland law, but police turn their head on this one day of the year when thousands (an estimated 13,000 in 2011) gather to strip and ride.
6. Portland is one of the few destinations outside of France where you can take your dog into pubs.
7. Northwest Portland’s Forest Park is the largest urban area in the country.
8. Portland’s governor from 1967 to 1975, Gov. Tom McCall, developed the Oregon Bottle Bill, which was the first of its kind. It allowed bottles of certain materials to be returned for a profit to recycling centers. The law is credited for reducing litter and increasing recycling. Thank you Governor Tom McCall, we love your waterfront park.
9. Voo Doo Doughnuts offers legal wedding ceremonies. They can make special wedding/doughnut cakes too, just for your special day.
10. Word on the street is, Montage has the best bowl of Mac n’ Cheese in Portland. Taste for yourself by visiting its industrial location beneath the Morrison Bridge.
11. SE Grind is the only 24-hour coffee shop in Portland. Located on 12th and SE Powell, near the Aladdin Theater.
12. Portland has its very own library on wheels for people who live outside. It’s called Street Books and the librarian is Laura Molten, who has been dubbed Portland’s “street librarian.”
13. The Pillar of Books at Powell’s Books’ NW entrance comprises eight of what Powell’s believes are the world’s great books, each titled in their original languages. The pillar includes: Mahabharata, an epic poem of India; 1000 Nights and a Night, a classic collection of Arabic Tales; Hamlet, Shakespeare’s play; War and Peace, Tolstoy’s classic; Tao te Ching, the basis of Taoism by Lao Tzu; Psalms, Hebrew poetry from the Old Testament; The Odyssey, Homer’s epic tale of the Greek world; and The Whale, the original title of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Around the pillar in Latin, the words, ”Buy the Book, Read the Book, Enjoy the Book and Sell the book” are written.
14. Portland has over 200 food carts, bringing Portlanders delicious food of all kinds for cheap.
15. The Portland Symphony is the oldest orchestra in the west, and was established in 1896.
16. Portland has an underground labyrinth-loving community. Who would have known?
17. U.S. News & World Report rated Portland the fifth best city for public transportation in 2011.
18. The best crawfish in Portland can be eaten at My Brother’s Crawfish in SE PDX. Is this opinion? You decide.
19. Fire on the Mountain’s El Jefe Champion ate 40 wings in one sitting. His name is Paul Kaushal and he is a two-time champion.
20. The Shanghai Tunnels reveal an underground view of Portland beneath NW Couch, Davis and Everett streets. They were once used to transport goods from ships docked on the Willamette to the basements of bars and hotels, and there is legend that the tunnels were used to illegally sell workers to ships waiting on the harbor in the mid-1800s through the early 20th century, giving the tunnels an eerie vibe and Portland visitors a curiosity that leads them to this underground tour.
21. Accompanying the Portlandia statue on SW 5th Avenue is a poem on a plaque by Portland poet, Ronald Talney. The plaque reads:
She kneels down
and from the quietness
We take that stillness
deep in the earth
becomes her city.
If she could speak
this is what
she would say:
Follow that breath.
Home is the journey we make.
This is how the world
knows where we are.
Photo by: Wildcat Dunny