Bend is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River. Here the Ponderosa Pine forest transitions into the Great Basin high desert plateau, characterized by arid land, junipers, sagebrush, and bitter-brush. Originally a crossing point on the river, settlement began in the early 1900s. Bend was incorporated as a city in 1905. Economically, it started as a logging town, but is now identified as a gateway for many outdoor sports, including mountain biking, fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, white-water rafting, skiing, and golf.
The name Bend was derived from "Farewell Bend," the designation used by early pioneers to refer to the location along the Deschutes River where the town eventually was platted, one of the few fordable points along the river.
For at least 12,000 years, until the winter of 1824, the Bend area was known only to Native Americans who hunted and fished there. That year, members of a fur trapping party led by Peter Skene Ogden visited the area. John C. Frémont, John Strong Newberry, and other Army survey parties came next. Then pioneers heading farther west passed through the area and forded the Deschutes River at Farewell Bend.
European American settlement did not occur until the early 1900s with the founding of the Pilot Butte Development Company by Alexander M. Drake. A small community developed around the area within the bend in the river, and in 1904, a city was incorporated by a general vote of the community's 300 residents. On January 41905, the city held its first official meeting as an incorporated municipality, appointing A. H. Goodwillie as the first mayor. The settlement was originally called "Farewell Bend", which was later shortened to "Bend" by the U.S. Postal Service. Twelve years later, Deschutes County, Oregon was formed from the western half of Crook County and Bend was designated as the county seat. In 1929, Bend amended the charter and adopted the council-manager form of government.
Bend's elevation .
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.2 square miles (83.5 km²). 32.0 square miles (82.9 km²) of it is land, and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (0.68%) is water.
Inside the city limits is Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, an extinct cinder cone. Bend is the only city in the continental U.S. besides Portland, Oregon, to have an extinct volcano within its city limits. It is reached by U.S. Route 20.
Bend is the larger principal city of the Bend-Prineville CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Bend metropolitan area (Deschutes County) and the Prineville micropolitan area (Crook County), which had a combined population of 134,549 at the 2000 census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 52,029 people, 21,062 households, and 13,395 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,624.8 people per square mile (627.4/km²). There were 22,507 housing units at an average density of 702.9/sq mi (271.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.98% White, 0.28% African American, 0.79% Native American, 1.00% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.75% from other races, and 2.12% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.61% of the population.
There were 21,062 households, out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42, and the average family size was 2.92.
The age distribution was 24.5% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,857, and in 2006 the median income for a family of four is $58,800. Males had a median income of $33,377 versus $25,094 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,624. About 6.9% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
In 2005, Bend's economic profile comprised five industry categories: tourism (7,772 jobs); healthcare and social services (6,062 jobs); professional, scientific and technical services (1,893 jobs); wood products manufacturing (1,798 jobs); and recreation and transportation equipment (1,065 jobs).
Much of Bend's rapid growth in recent years is also due to its attraction as a retirement destination. The rapid population growth has fostered organizations such as Central Oregon Landwatch and Oregon Solutions.
Other companies include:
A large influx of new residents drawn by Bend's lifestyle amenities, along with the low interest rates and easy lending that fostered a national housing boom in 2001-2005, resulted in increased activity in Bend's construction and real estate sectors and have caused the rate of home price appreciation in Bend to grow substantially during that period. Median home prices in the Bend MSA increased by over 80% in the 2001-2005 period.
In June 2006, Money magazine named the Bend MSA the fifth most overpriced real estate market in the United States. By September 2006, the Bend metro area ranked second in the list of most overpriced housing markets, and in June 2007 it was named the most overpriced housing market in America.
Bend's climate is typical of the high desert with cool nights and sunny days. Annual precipitation averages between and , which is part of the average snowfall of . The winter season in Bend provides typical daytime temperatures between and . Average nighttime temperatures range anywhere from to . According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the average annual minimum temperature in Bend is to .
A typical Central Oregon summer is marked with daily temperatures around to during the day, and around to during the night. Hard frosts are not unheard of during the summer months. Autumn usually brings warm, dry days and cooler nights, and Bend is known for its annual Indian summer. According to the Western Regional Climate Center of the Desert Research Institute, the mean of the monthly average maximum temperatures in July, the hottest month in Bend, between 1928 and 2006 was .
Bend's growing season is quite short due to a brief frost-free period. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service, in half of the years between 1971 and 2000, the USDA weather station in Bend recorded the last below-freezing temperatures after July 3 and the first below-freezing temperatures before August 31.
Bend is the home of the professional cross-country ski team XC Oregon, which competes in races locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Top team members include: Colin Mahood, Josh Smullin, Evelyn Dong, Brayton Osgood, Zach Violett, and Marshall Greene.
Bend features the Roughriders RFC, a mens division 3 Rugby Football Club.
Bend Municipal Airport (KBDN) is located northeast of the city and serves general aviation. Several significant general aviation companies are based at Bend Airport, including Precise Flight, which develops oxygen systems, speed brakes, landing lights and other modifications for general aviation aircraft, Epic Aircraft and Cessna.
However, B.A.T has not been without controversy. While B.A.T. has supporters, many in the community take issue with the transit system being developed after voters have twice said no at the ballot box.
The city council ordered used buses purchased without conducting due diligence. The buses have been plagued with maintenance problems to the degree that none have consistently been in service. During the Summer of 2007, not a single bus purchased was in operation (though several were due to weak A/C systems) and litigation is underway. The city has filled the gaps with smaller buses previously used for the city's Dial A Ride system without any interruption to service or crowding complaints.
Additionally, plans were announced in July 2007 for building a bus barn capable of housing 35 buses for maintenance and storage. The proposed bus barn is on city owned cemetery property. Neighborhood opponents have protested at hearings against such a facility in a residential neighborhood within a block of an elementary school. They point to deed restrictions requiring the land be developed only for further cemetery use or park space. The issue remains unresolved.
Bend lies at the intersection of U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 97. The latter runs on an expressway alignment through the city known as the Bend Parkway; a business route for US 97 runs along 3rd Street. The city is also served by the Century Drive Highway No. 372 which provides access to Mount Bachelor.
A BNSF mainline runs north-south through the city; there are numerous spurs off of the mainline which serve industrial rail customers. The closest Amtrak service is in the town of Chemult, approximately to the south; this station is served by the Coast Starlight route.