ABCs of P-Town (part 3: M-P)

Made in Oregon sign – It may not actually say “Made in Oregon” anymore, but this always was and will be how I remember the sign from growing up here. Perched atop the White Stag Building on the West end of the Burnside Bridge, this iconic landmark has lit up the Portland skyline since 1941. Of course, then it read “White Stag Sugar” to advertise a specific sugar brand to all the city. In the years following the original lettering, the sign has also said “White Stag” and “Made in Oregon” before finally becoming the “Portland, Oregon” you can see today. And while it seems people are happy with the current lettering, there was much dispute a few years ago when word first got out that the “Made in Oregon” was going to change. Most of this was in protest to the sign being changed to “University of Oregon,” a college based in Eugene but with multiple Portland-based programs and leasing the building the sign sits upon. (The lease extended to the rooftop, thus including the sign.) Instead, after much debate, the UO decided to simply not continue the lease (on the rooftop, that is, you can still find them in the White Stag Building) and the city took over. That is when the lettering was changed to the current “Portland, Oregon” with “Old Town” in the smaller lettering underneath.

At least, through all these changes, on thing remained the same. You will always see a red rudolph nose lit up on the white stag around the holiday.

Nicknames – So far throughout these posts, I am sure you have noticed me call Portland a few things other than its official name. The truth is, Portland goes by many different names. To begin with, if you ever get a txt referring to the city from a local, do not be surprised to find “Portland” has been shortened to “PDX” the code identifying its international airport. This is a common occurrence, especially with the exponentially growing use of social media and electronic communication. And going along with this trend, another shortening for Portland is (can you guess? it’s the title of this post for crying out loud) P-Town! Other nicknames may derive from some sort of city history or background. “Stumptown” came to be during the time that Portland was a hub for the logging industry, leaving stumps everywhere, and “Little Beirut” was bequeathed upon Portland by George Bush’s staff after several encounters with the city’s protestors. Additional names include Bridgetown (not hard to figure out why)

as well as RIP City (added recently, thanks to the Portland Trailblazers). Officially, Portland’s nickname is the Rose City, and you can find that correlation EVERYWHERE. There are the International Rose Test Gardens, the annual Rose Festival, the Rose Parade, the Rose Quarter… “Rose City” is even prominent in many a Timbers Army chant(don’t worry, I will get to what the TA is later). I guess when it come to Portland, once name just wasn’t enough.

One-way Streets – I once heard Portland referred to as a game of Battleship – streets going alphabetically one way, and numerically the other. (Really, this is only in the Alphabet District) Thus, you would think with a little common sense, it would make it very easy for someone to find their way around. Enter the one-way street. Portland is rife with one-way streets. This city thrives on them, collects them like old stamps, and uses them against unsuspecting visitors as a way to trap them here FOREVER. Okay, maybe that is a little much, but I have been living here almost my entire life and I STILL will find myself driving around in circles once in a while. Add in a few bike lanes here and there, a “bus only” lane than seems to magically appear in front of you, and a few sets of MAX tracks, no wonder you can always see people walking along the sidewalk as opposed to braving the metropolis maze. Truth be told, it isn’t really that bad, but just make sure you give yourself plenty of extra time if you plan to drive downtown for something. Because, after all the circling around, honking, and last-minute turns… you are still going to need to find a parking spot.

Portlandia – No, I am not talking about the IFC show about this wonderful city… although I do need to catch up on my episodes. Portland, Oregon is home to second largest copper statue in the United States (the first being the Statue of Liberty) Portlandia (and it’s not green either!). You can find this statue downtown at 1120 SW 5th Avenue. Just look up. There, staring down from the Michael Graves’ Portland Building, is a piece of art that many people don’t even know exists. Admittedly, when the trees are in full bloom and you are speed walking back to your office building, it’s easy to miss. Nevertheless, it is a fairly impressive sight (with informational plaque across the street) to check out if you find yourself meandering around downtown with a little extra time.

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