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The Best of Portland

The Best of Portland

Portland is known for its craft beer, great scenery, love of coffee, food trucks, and of course, its bridges. However, for us, the best things about Portland aren’t the bars and breweries (although those are awesome); our favorite things about this city are the charming anecdotes that brighten your day when you hear about them.  

Conor Eifler, from Portland Walking Tours, and Dash show us some of the best things around Portland

It was named on a coin toss

Back when Portland was just a meadow to park your canoe in on the way to Oregon City, founders Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove argued for months about what to name their fledgling town. Lovejoy, from Massachusetts, wanted to name the town Boston. Pettygrove, from Portland, Maine, wanted to name it Portland. Unable to decide between their equally creative choices, Pettygrove and Lovejoy flipped a coin for it.

The copper one-cent piece they used is now dubbed the Portland Penny, and is on display at the Oregon Historical Museum.

It’s home to the largest leprechaun colony west of Ireland, which is also the world’s smallest park

Right outside the Hotel Rose is Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park.

There are two competing narratives about how Mill Ends Park began. The first is that the Portland Rose Society planted the world’s smallest rose garden in 1954, as a tongue-in-cheek response to the world’s largest rose garden, which had just been unveiled in Columbus, Ohio. The tiny rose garden was briefly named “Portland Envoy”, however, at the park’s debut ceremony local journalist Dick Fagan, “with all the flowery gesturing of Columbus landing on the New World,” claimed the park and named it after his newspaper column: Mill Ends. 

The second, more popular story is that Fagan himself began planting flowers in the traffic island in a spot intended for a lamp post that never arrived. One day Fagan saw a leprechaun in his garden, caught the chap – who introduced himself as Patrick O’Toole – and was granted one wish. Fagan wished for a park, however, the cheeky O’Toole pointed out that Fagan didn’t specify a minimum size for his park and granted him the lamp post hole.

You can get your kit off and ride your bike

Every year thousands of people turn up to watch thousands of other people ride around on bikes in the nude. It’s good, clean, family fun (that’s not even a joke).

Portland is one of 100 cities around the world that participate in the World Naked Bike Ride, which is exactly what it sounds like. People get their kit off (or not, if they’d prefer not too), paint themselves (or not, if they’d prefer not to), and ride around a designated area of the city to the cheers of the young, the old, and the family members you never thought would see you like this. 

Pro tip: if you’re using body paint, have a game plan for cleaning it off later. Once you get to hour three of attempting to scrub yourself down it will seem like a good idea to start calling friends and family members and asking for advice, and they will not let you forget it. Dish soap works surprisingly well.

We could go on listing the things that bring us joy about this city, but we want to hear from you. Whether you live here, have visited, or are planning a trip soon, what are the things about Portland that make you smile?

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