Portland may have seen a rapid growth in the last couple decades but our city has seen many changes since its beginnings. Originally founded in 1851, the City of Roses went from the sleepy agricultural community to a bustling city in under a century. These are some of the interesting things that have happened along the way.
1. Our name comes from a coin flip
When the original founders of Portland, Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove, looked upon the land known as The Clearing, they had no plan of an original name. Instead they used the time-tested best of three coin flip, which resulted in a Pettygrove win. Hailing from Portland, Maine, Pettygrove gave our city the same name. If Lovejoy would have won that day, we may have been known as Boston instead.
2. The rose garden was started to preserve species during WWI
Established in 1917, the Portland International Rose Test Garden was created as a sanctuary for hybrid European roses that were feared would be wiped out during bombing in WWI.
3. Portlandia is second only to the Statue of Liberty
This iconic statue is the second largest copper repoussé statue in the United States. Sculptor Raymond Kaskey owns the copyright to the statue and closely guards the reproduction of its image, a move that is thought to be the reason this gigantic statue has a low profile in the city and beyond. Standing at 34 feet 10 inches tall, it is hard to miss the statue on the Portland Building downtown.
4. The chainsaw was forever changed here
Joseph Buford Cox left an indelible mark on the timber industry when he fashioned what is today known as the chipper type chain for chain saws. Based on the jaws of the larva of the timber beetle, Cox, who only reached the fifth grade, created a vital component of the chainsaw that is still in use in most chainsaws today.
5. The smallest park in the world is here
Since its official recognition in 1971, Mill Ends Park has been noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest park in the world. After a light pole that was slated to be installed in 1948 never went up, a local newspaper columnist, Dick Fagan, named the park after his column in the newspaper.
6. Horse rings point to Portland's past
These small rings found sporadically throughout the downtown area once had a very practical purpose: to tie up horses when in town. Thought to be from the early 1900s, many of the rings were removed during new sidewalk construction, however, after a resident complained in the 1970s about the dwindling rings, they are now preserved by the city as part of any new sidewalk construction project.
7. Benson Bubblers were initially installed to stop drinking on the job
At the time that Simon Benson donated the money for the installation of the now iconic 4-bowl drinking fountains around town, his main purpose was not to make sure everyone stayed hydrated. Instead, he wanted to offer an alternative to the pubs downtown and steer the lumberjacks on his clock away from drinking on the job.
What is your favorite interesting Portland history fact? Let us know in the comments below.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.