We know living in Portland is a lot of fun. We know we have some of the coolest things here like Voodoo Donuts. But, just to keep things weird, we thought we’d dig up some things you may not have known.
Here are five fun facts about the Portland metro area you may not have known.
1. Portland Was Almost Named Boston
When the founders of Portland, Oregon, were looking for a name for their new settlement, they almost chose the name “Boston”. The reason for this is that one of the founders, Asa Lovejoy, was from Boston, Massachusetts.
However, another founder, Francis Pettygrove, was from Portland, Maine. The two men disagreed on which name to choose, so they decided to settle the matter with a coin toss. Pettygrove won the toss, and Portland was born.
Although it’s interesting to imagine what might have been, it’s safe to say that Portland is now firmly entrenched in its Oregonian identity. Thanks, Pettygrove!
2. Beloved Bob’s Red Mill Was Founded Here
When you buy a package of Bob’s Red Mill, you’re buying local.
You may not know the name of Bob Moore, but you’ll recognize his face on your favorite package of Bob’s Red Mill products. Bob committed to helping others live a healthier lifestyle because of his father’s death from a heart attack at age 49. His wife Charlee was a big supporter from the start.
In the mid-60s, Bob and Charlee started experimenting with stone-ground flours while he ran gas stations in Gardena, Mammoth Lakes, and Sacramento, California.
After they relocated to Redding, the Moore’s opened up Moore’s Flour Mill with their three sons. It was quite successful. Bob and Charlee retired and moved up to Portland. But the natural grains business was still in his blood. Bob’s Red Mill was officially founded after they bought a commercial flour mill in Oregon City. For fun, he painted the building red.
An arsonist burned down the red mill in 1988. Thankfully, the millstones survived. The Moore’s built a new red mill down the road in Milwaukie, and company headquarters have been here ever since.
3. Largest and Smallest – In the World
Portland is the home to the largest independently owned bookstore in the world, as well as the world’s smallest city park.
Powell’s City of Books occupies an entire city block and has over 1 million books in stock. They offer both new and used books along with a delightful experience. It’s located in the Pearl district in a building that used to be an auto dealership. Not everything is for sale. They offer a library of rare books and reference material.
Mill Ends Park is the smallest park measuring two feet wide by two feet long. And it’s official because it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records. Located near the Willamette River, it’s a tiny grassy area that was originally intended to host a light pole that never showed up.
Oregon journalist Dick Fagan wrote a column called Mill Ends, where he jokingly described the park and “events” that occurred. Fagan also planted flowers and maintained the park. After his death, the city decided to make Mill Ends an official park on St. Patrick’s Day, 1976.
On the flip side (and a bonus factoid), Forest Park contains one of the largest urban forest reserves in the United States. Plus, it’s the largest park within a city’s limits.
We’re Tops for Tofu
Ota Tofu Company is the longest-continuously running manufacturer of tofu in Portland, Oregon. Ota Tofu has been making tofu since 1910, and it is currently the only tofu company in the state of Oregon.
They produce both firm and soft tofu, as well as a variety of flavored tofu products. The company also offers a tofu cooking class, which is taught by owner and tofu master Shigeo Ota.
Ota Tofu is committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, and all of its tofu is made with organic soybeans. In addition, Ota Tofu sources its soybeans from local farmers, and all of the water used in the tofu-making process is filtered and recycled. As a result of Ota Tofu’s commitment to quality and sustainability, their tofu products are enjoyed by tofu lovers all over the world.
And Just to Keep It Weird…
Let’s talk about some nicknames. A current favorite is Portlandia, thanks to the television series. We call it PDX since that’s the code for the airport.
Portland is also called Rose City and City of Roses due to a large number of rose gardens. In the early 1900s, Portland was hosting a Lewis & Clark Exposition. The city planted around 10,000 bushes of Madame Caroline Testout roses along Portland’s streets.
At the end of the exposition, Mayor Harry Lane decided to build on the success of the fair and establish an annual rose festival. More than 1.5 million people attended the Lewis and Clark Exposition. And Mayor Lane was correct. The first Rose Festival was held two years later in 1907 and is still going strong today.
Portland was called “Stumptown” for a time because, during the early days as a lumber town, people cut down the trees but left the stumps.
Some people call Portland “Bridge City” due to all the bridges. Some call it “Rip City” in reference to its thriving skateboarding scene. Whatever you call it, Portland is a unique and vibrant city with a nickname to match.
Looking for another fun Portland topic to explore? CLICK HERE to read: “Portland Stereotypes That Are Actually True.”