The Portland area was first settled in 1844 when two New Englanders bought a claim on the Willamette’s west bank. They tossed a coin to decide the new settlement’s name – ‘Portland’ won over ‘Boston.’
Portland’s location near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers helped drive the young city’s growth. The California gold rush clamored for Oregon lumber, while the growing population of settlers in the Willamette Valley demanded supplies. The Northern Pacific Railroad (which arrived in 1883) and the WWII shipbuilding boom didn’t hurt the local economy either.
Today more than half-million people live in the greater Portland area. Shipping operations have since moved north of downtown, the Old Town’s been revitalized and the once-industrial Pearl District now brims with expensive lofts and boutiques. Outdoor-clothing manufacturers Nike, Adidas and Columbia Sportswear help drive the economy, along with high-tech companies such as Intel and Tektronix.
Despite its economic ups and downs, Portland continues to attract new settlers to this day, each with their own hopes and dreams for a new life.