Portland is the most populous city in the state of Oregon and the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest, after Seattle and Vancouver. With its many rose gardens, Portland is known as the City of Roses, and it has been incorporated since 1851.
Portland's population is 632,309, according to the most recent census estimates released in 2016 (for the year 2015). The population of Portland has been growing at around 10,000 per year since the last census, which was taken in 2010.
Portland is currently the 26th largest city in the US, just a few spots behind Seattle, the largest city in the Northwest. When the entire metro area of Portland (five counties in Oregon, and two counties in Washington) is tallied, and the total is nearly 2.4 million. There are about 4,375 Portlanders per square mile.
The African American population of Portland was just 2,000 in 1940, comprised mostly of railroad employees, many of whom were drawn to the area during the wartime ship construction boom. Many black people who came to the city settled in certain neighborhoods, including Vanport and Abina. Today, the African American population of Portland (6.3%) is more than three times the Oregon average, with more than two-thirds of all African American residents of Oregon living in the city.
Vietnamese Americans makeup 2.2% of the city's total population and represent the largest Asian ethnic group, followed by Chinese (1.7%), Filipino (0.6%), Korean (0.4%), Laotian (0.4%), Hmong (0.2%) and Cambodian (0.1%). There are two Chinatowns in Portland. About 12,000 Vietnamese people live in the city, which is one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the country.
Portland does remain a predominantly white city, although the percentage has dropped over the last fifty years. In 1940, 98% of the population was white. In 2009, Portland still had the 5th highest percentage of white residents among the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the country, while a study in 2007 found that Portland's urban area has the highest rate of white people in the United States.
The most significant influx of minorities into Portland occurred during World War II when the African American population grew more than ten times. After the war, a flood in Vanport displaced many. Issues like police hostility, mortgage discrimination, and job discrimination led to half of the black population leaving Portland after the war.
The area that is now Portland was occupied for centuries by two different bands of Upper Chinook Indians, who fished and traded along the river. The Tualatin Plains eventually became a settlement of Portland. In 1843, a man named William Overton saw commercial potential but lacked the money for a land claim. He made a deal with his partner, Asa Lovejoy, and Boston, for $0.25 to share the claim of 640 acres of land.
Overton eventually sold his half to Francis Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove and Lovejoy both wanted to name the new city after their home towns. This was settled in 1845 by a coin toss, which Pettygrove of Portland, Maine won.
When it was incorporated in 1851, Portland had more than 800 inhabitants, which grew to 17,500 by 1879.
Portland Population Growth
's population grew more than 10% from 2000 and 2010, and population growth in the Portland metro area has outpaced the national average for the last decade. This trend is expected to continue for the next five decades. Since the 2010 census, the population has grown an additional 8.3%.
A recent Forbes article found that Portland is the 10th fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States with a stable growth rate of 1.8% per year. Portland also leads Oregon's population growth, with numbers declining in many rural and eastern areas in favor of the city.
In October 2015, Oregon Metro released its urban growth report, which contains their population projections for the next twenty years. Metro is projecting continued growth until 2040, albeit at a slower rate than in previous forecasts. The metro area is anticipated to cross 3 million residents by 2040.
Oregon's population growth temporarily declined during the recession, which hit the region harder than most areas of the country, but it has already started to pick up with home values rising and job opportunities improving. The state still has higher-than-average unemployment and underemployment.