PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Long-time Portlanders may be well-educated on the city’s quirks, fun facts and norms, but Portland transplants have a lot to learn.
Here are just a few Portland-isms that newbies may not already be aware of.
1. Portland gets a lot of rain, like… a lot of rain. But the city definitely isn’t built for snow. Just earlier this year, the historic April snow resulted in downed trees and power lines, school closures and delays, highway shutdowns and many vehicle crashes.
2. Did you know Portland was home to the longest performing drag star? In 2016, Linnton-raised Walter Cole, or Darcelle XV, broke the Guinness World Record for oldest drag queen.
Today, the Darcelle XV nightclub named after the performer is still open for partygoers.
3. Some word pronunciations aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. Northwest Portland’s Couch Street is not pronounced the same as that piece of furniture that most people have in their living rooms. It’s pronounced cooch.
Also, the Willamette River is pronounced Will-AM-ett, not Willa-Met. Northeast Glisan Street is pronounced Glee-son, not Gliss-an.
4. The world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s Books, is right here in Portland. As great as its selection of nearly one million books is, the city has plenty of other independent bookstores worthy of a visit.
5. Portlanders are passionate people, and that’s shown through the many protests that have occurred throughout the years. In the summer of 2020, the city gained national attention after protesters took to the streets for months following George Floyd’s death.
Even dating back to the 1990s, anti-war demonstrators burned flags, threw eggs and more when president George H.W. Bush visited the city. It is believed that either Bush or a member of his administration referred to Portland as ‘Little Beirut’, because the actual city of Beirut was the site of severe civil unrest during the Lebanese Civil War.
6. Ever seen a plaque on a tree in your neighborhood? That’s probably because it’s a Heritage Tree. According to the city of Portland, “Heritage Trees are trees that have been formally recognized by City Council for their unique size, age, historical or horticultural significance. Once accepted by Council, Heritage Trees are designated with a small plaque and listed in the Heritage Tree database.”
There are nearly 400 Heritage Trees across the city, and more trees can be nominated here.
7. You may have heard of the Portland Saturday Market that happens every Saturday from early March to late December, but there are plenty of other markets you can stop by that are fun for all ages.
The PSU Farmers Market is open year-round, and has up to 130 vendors every Saturday. The Montavilla Farmers Market also has a year-round schedule, but is open on Sundays. There, you can find local fruit and vegetables, baked goods and more special treats. The Beaverton Farmers Market is just a few miles outside of Portland, but it has a variety of fresh, local foods as well.
8. Out with the old, in with the new… or maybe not. Thrift shopping is pretty popular in Portland, and there’s no shortage of secondhand shops throughout the city. One vintage store owner told Travel Portland, “The Portland vintage scene is thriving, and people from all over the world seem to know about it.”
9. Drivers should always proceed with caution, but especially if they’re downtown where there’s an abundance of one-way streets and biking lanes. Although they might derail your drive, the one-way streets aren’t that hard to conquer as long as you pay attention to the signs.
Drivers should also be mindful of sharing the streets with bikers. After all, Oregon is one of the most bike-friendly states. Despite this, it has had its fair share of fatalities involving drivers and bikers.
10. This bike-friendly city also participates in the annual World Naked Bike Ride, although the pandemic canceled the event in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, about 10,000 riders joined the ride to promote bicycling and body positivity.
Some cyclers are, in fact, fully naked. Helmets are still suggested, though.