Portland is a city located in the U.S. state of Oregon, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, estimated to have reached 587,865 in 2012, making it the 28th most populous city in the United States. Portland is Oregon’s most populous city, and the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest region, after Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Approximately 2,992,924 people live in the Portland metropolitan area (MSA), the 19th most populous MSA in the United States.
Portland was incorporated in 1851 near the end of the Oregon Trail and is the county seat of Multnomah County. The city has a commission-based government headed by a mayor and four other commissioners as well as Metro, a distinctive regional government. The city is noted for its superior land-use planning and investment in light rail. Because of its public transportation networks and efficient land-use planning, Portland has been referred to as one of the most environmentally friendly, or “green”, cities in the world.
Located in the Marine west coast climate region, Portland has a climate marked by both warm, dry summers and wet, cool-to-chilly winter days. This climate is ideal for growing roses. For more than a century, Portland has been known as the “City of Roses”, with many rose gardens – most prominently the International Rose Test Garden. The city is also known for its abundant outdoor activities, liberal political values, and beer and coffee enthusiasm. Portland is home to a large number of independent microbreweries, microdistilleries and food carts that contribute to the unofficial slogan “Keep Portland Weird”.
Parks and greenspace planning date back to John Charles Olmsted’s 1903 Report to the Portland Park Board. In 1995, voters in the Portland metropolitan region passed a regional bond measure to acquire valuable natural areas for fish, wildlife, and people. Ten years later, more than 8,100 acres (33 km2) of ecologically valuable natural areas had been purchased and permanently protected from development.
Portland is one of only four cities in the U.S. with extinct volcanoes within its boundaries (along with Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon, Jackson Volcano in Jackson, Mississippi, and Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii). Mount Tabor Park is known for its scenic views and historic reservoirs.
Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, covering more than 5,000 acres (2,023 ha). Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park (a two-foot-diameter circle, the park’s area is only about 0.3 m2). Washington Park is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs along the west bank of the Willamette for the length of downtown. The 37-acre (15 ha) park was built in 1974 after Harbor Drive was removed and now hosts large events throughout the year. Portland’s downtown features two groups of contiguous city blocks dedicated for park space: the North and South Park Blocks.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area is one of three Oregon State Parks in Portland and the most popular; its creek has a run of steelhead. The other two State Parks are Willamette Stone State Heritage Site located in the West Hills and the Government Island State Recreation Area located in the Columbia River near Portland International Airport.
Portland’s city park system has been proclaimed one of the best in America. In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land reported that Portland had the 7th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities. ParkScore ranks city park systems by a formula that analyzes the city’s median park size, park acres as percent of city area, the percent of city residents within a half-mile of a park, spending of park services per resident, and the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents. The survey revealed that 80% of Portlanders live within a half-mile to a park and over 16% of Portland’s city area is parkland.