Nicknames of Portland, Oregon

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


City of RosesEdit

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

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.[5] 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,[6] who founded the Oregon Life Insurance Company in 1906 (known today as Standard Insurance Company). Samuel, who moved to Portland in 1871,[7] 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.[5] 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.[8] 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]


Stumptown was coined in a period of phenomenal growth in Portland after 1847. The city was growing so rapidly that the stumps of trees 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.[9][10] Captain John C. Ainsworth commented that there were "more stumps than trees" in Portland in the early 1850s.[9][11]

Rip CityEdit

The nickname Rip City is usually used in the context of the city's NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers.[12] 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.[13] 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 Baby!" 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.[14]


This nickname reflects the wide variety of craft beers brewed in Portland and throughout the state of Oregon.[15][16]


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.[17] As well, many Portland businesses include pdx in their web sites' domain names to denote their Portland location.[citation needed] Although licensed in adjacent Vancouver, WA, KPDX-TV's call letter reflect this nickname.

Ordinary or obscure nicknamesEdit

City of ChurchesEdit

Portland was once compared with Brooklyn, New York, whose official nickname was "city of churches", by the Sunday Oregonian as seen on the front page of its November 12, 1899 issue of which a reproduction can be seen on the outside of the Oregonian's building. It reads, "On the Pacific coast, Portland occupies the same relative position as that of Brooklyn on the Atlantic seaboard and might well be called "a city of churches"...Wherever the stranger wanders here he will see steeples pointing heavenward, in the very midst of one of the most pleasing landscapes in all the world, embracing, as it does the comprehensive view of river and vale, hill and mountain, farm and fruit orchard, city and country—all combined."[18]

In more recent years Portland is considered one of the least churched major cities in the United States.[19]

Little BeirutEdit

Staffers of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush used to refer to Portland as Little Beirut because of the protesters he encountered during his visits.[20][21][22]

Forbidden City of the WestEdit

Portland has been referred to as the Forbidden City of the West, an allusion to Beijing's Forbidden City. The city received the nickname due to its history of Shanghaiing and the legends that such actions took place in the city's Shanghai tunnels.[23]


Portland is sometimes called P-Town by some locals.[24][25][26]

Bridge City or BridgetownEdit

The City of Portland is bisected by the Willamette River. Twelve Portland bridges span the Willamette River. Because of the many bridges, Portland has earned the nickname Bridge City.[27]

Soccer City USAEdit

Portland is home to a very successful MLS franchise, the Portland Timbers. The Portland Timbers hosted the 2021 MLS Cup.

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Queen City". Time. January 30, 1928. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "International Rose Test Garden – Washington Park". Portland Parks & Recreation. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  6. ^ StanCorp Financial History Page
  7. ^ History of StanCorp Financial Group
  8. ^ "Elephant matriarch Rosy dies at 43". (January 29, 1993). The Oregonian, p. C1.
  9. ^ a b MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915–1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5.
  10. ^ "From Robin's Nest to Stumptown". End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Archived from the original on September 1, 2000. Retrieved November 7, 2006.
  11. ^ MacColl cites the "4 March 1877, entry in 'Autobiographical Account', John C. Ainsworth Papers, OHS; Oregonian; 4 December 1900"
  12. ^ Jaynes, Dwight (June 5, 2007). "The day Rip City ruled the Rose City". The Portland Tribune. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  13. ^ "Bill Schonely Returns to Blazers". National Basketball Association. September 10, 2003. Archived from the original on November 18, 2003. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Quick, Jason (October 14, 2009). "Ill-advised shot from feisty guard leaves indelible mark on Blazers". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  15. ^ Beervana
  16. ^ Freewheeling Portland, Oregon USA Today, 2008-08-14
  17. ^ Freedman, David H (1997). At Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion. Simon and Schuster. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-684-82464-2.
  18. ^ "Portland's Churches and Churchgoers". Sunday Oregonian. November 12, 1899.
  19. ^ See, for example, Antonia Blumberg, "The 30 Least Religious Cities In The United States" Huffington Post website, citing Joanna Piacenza, Robert P. Jones, "The Top Two Religious Groups That Dominate American Cities", Public Religion Research Institute website (last accessed 1 January 2021)
  20. ^ McCall, William (August 18, 2003). "'Little Beirut' nickname has stuck". The Oregonian.
  21. ^ McCall, William (August 18, 2003). "Portland police, activists get ready for Bush's visit". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Perry, Douglas (May 18, 2019). "'Little Beirut' legacy: 21 of the most memorable protests in Portland history". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  23. ^ Mellema, Valerie (March 2008). "Portland Underground: Shanghai Tunnels – Legends of America". Legends of America. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  24. ^ Hagestedt, Andre (April 7, 2009). "The Missing Oregon Coast: Waves After Dark". Retrieved April 30, 2009. I'm used to seeing that hint of dawn back in P-town, with my wretched habit of playing video games until 6 a.m
  25. ^ Griffin, Anna (April 24, 2007). "Free bikes failed, so P-town thinks rentals". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 30, 2009. The city of Portland soon could become the Hertz, Avis and Enterprise of the bicycling business
  26. ^ Nkrumah, Wade (March 31, 2005). "P-town grinds toward skate park legitimacy". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 30, 2009. Skateboarders are abuzz over plans for Portland's first city-funded skate parks
  27. ^ Acker, Lizzy (June 2016). "Portland's nicknames, explained". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 29, 2019.