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By Chaz Wilke, Staff Writer

The City of Roses. Bridgeport. Stumptown. The city of Portland goes by many names. Sitting along the northern edge of Oregon, Portland welcomes visitors from Washington who travel on the 5 and 205 over the Columbia River. Portland is not only a great place to raise a family, but it can also be a budding entrepreneur's dream.

If you're considering a move in the near future, perhaps it's time to give Portland another look.

Once thought to be an economically depressed area, Portland has taken great strides in the past few years. The city has since reinvented itself as a lush, green paradise for young families, artists and small business owners. Portland is perfect for those looking for a slower pace of life than what bigger cities such as Seattle and San Francisco offer.

Split by the Willamette River, Portland has become known for its many bridges. Ten beautiful and unique bridges, five of which are drawbridges, allow residents to commute from each end of the city.

St. John's Bridge

Some of these bridges rival the beauty of San Francisco's famed Golden Gate. The St. John's Bridge is a notable marvel of civil engineering and the tallest bridge in Portland. Opened in 1931, and adorned with emerald spires and gorgeous inlays and flourishes, this bridge sits to the north of the city's center and is worth a special trip just to see it.

City Stats

City Area 145.09 sq mi
Metro Population 2,289,800
Elevation 50 ft (Highest Point 1,188 ft)
Mayor Charlie Hales
Founded 1845

Source: Wikipedia

"The City of Roses"

The nickname "The City of Roses" is well earned by Portland. Aside from the favorable weather allowing many plants to thrive, Portland is also home to the International Rose Test Garden. As stated on the official website, "The primary purpose of this garden is to serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties."

A fountain at the International Rose Test Garden in Portland

Opened in 1917, the International Rose Test Garden is the longest running public rose testing facility in the United States. Since the grounds are used for testing new rose varieties, the visiting general public is granted a rare view of emerging flower types.

Since the garden is situated high on a hill, it provides a view of the city and Mount Hood in the distance that must be seen to be believed.

And the Shakespeare garden provides a lovely place to picnic and view plants that have been mentioned in Shakespeare's plays and others that have been named in honor of characters created by the immortal playwright.

The Pearl

The Pearl is undoubtedly the busy metropolitan center of Portland. It provides residents and visitors a wealth of activities, shopping, and dining.

Every nook and cranny of this section of Portland hides great places to check out - a factor that will surely increase the appeal for prospective homeowners.

Powell's City of Books doesn't mince words. This multi-story bookstore consumes an entire city block. The fantastic collection of books is second to none. Powell's also runs regular events that include book signing, writing workshops, kids' story time and other events. It has been said that Powell's City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world.

Explorethepearl.com provided an interesting list of facts about Powell's City of Books:

  • 68,000 square feet packed with books.
  • We buy 3,000 used books over the counter every day.
  • Approximately 3,000 people walk in and buy something every day.
  • Another 3,000 people just browse and drink coffee.
  • We stock 122 major subject areas and more than 3,500 subsections.
  • You'll find more than 1,000,000 volumes on our shelves.
  • Approximately 80,000 book lovers browse the City's shelves every day in Portland and via the Internet.

Considered by many to be the crown jewel in an ailing retail book industry, Powell's continues to shine as a true gift to the people of Portland.

Stumptown Coffee is also located in The Pearl. The owners stand by a simple mission: "At Stumptown, Coffee Roasters coffee is king-but it's still our relationships that really keep us going." It may be coffee on the menu, but it's the refreshingly friendly atmosphere that keeps people coming back. This year Stumptown celebrates its 15th anniversary in business, and it doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon. Late last year Stumptown opened its first Roastery and café in Los Angeles.

St. Johns and more!

McMenamins St. Johns Theater & Pub is perhaps the greatest secret hiding in Portland. It's a theater, it's a bar, it's a restaurant and down to the DNA of everyone working there it's just a great place to spend some time.

No matter where you sit, inside or outside, at the bar or in the theater, you're likely to have a great time.

McMenamins serves local fare and has an extensive beer selection. The bar also functions as a theater and shows second run movies and sporting events on a screen fit for a king. The Theater & Pub also runs weekly specials designed to attract a specific crowd. Have a fussy baby in tow? Swing by the Theater & Pub on Wednesdays at 1pm for one of McMenamins' famous Mommy Matinees. As McMenamins states on its website, "Let the wee ones fuss, we don't mind."

Thursday's at McMenamins is Burger, Beer & a Movie Night, providing a meal, beer and movie for $12.75 per person.

Further south in on the East side of the Willamette is another local haunt. Hopworks BikeBar ingeniously installed bikes in the waiting area out front. While people wait for their table, they're invited to take a stationary spin at a bike. The resulting energy built up is then used to power the entire bar.

Hopworks also functions as a microbrewery and pours a large selection of brews that are sure to fit any discerning palate.

Takeaway

The Pacific Northwest is a magical place. It is a fantastic place to start a family of nature lovers. The pace of life is slower than most major metropolitan cities, but Portland still retains a wealth of activities and culture. If you're planning a move or looking for a great place to plant your seeds, it may be worth your time to give Portland a look.