was the first city in the United States
west of the Rocky Mountains
to be incorporated. It is the county seat
of Clackamas County
. As of the 2000 census
, the city population was 25,754; the 2006 estimate has the population at 29,540.
The city's motto is Urbs civitatis nostrae prima et mater (First and mothertown of our state), as seen on the city's seal.
Known in recent decades as the site of several large paper mills on the Willamette River, the city played a significant role in the early history of the Oregon Country. It was established by Dr. John McLoughlin in 1829 near the confluence of the Clackamas River with the Willamette to take advantage of the power of Willamette Falls to run a lumber mill. During the 1840s and 1850s it was the destination for those wanting to file land claims after traveling the Oregon Trail as the last stop on the trail. It was the capital of the Oregon Territory from its establishment in 1848 until 1851 and rivaled Portland for early supremacy in the area. The center of the city retains part of its historic character through the preservation of houses and other buildings from the era of the city's founding.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.4 square miles (21.6 km²), of which, 8.1 square miles (21.1 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (2.52%) is water.
The major waterways of Oregon City include the Willamette River
, which flows along the northwest side of the city, and the Clackamas River
, which merges with the larger Willamette to the north of the city. The Willamette forms the boundary between Oregon City and West Linn
; the Clackamas serves as the boundary between Oregon City and Gladstone
Other notable tributaries of the Willamette are Abernathy (sometimes spelled Abernethy) and Singer Creeks; Newell Creek is a tributary of Abernathy Creek which flows through a canyon on the city's eastern boundary.
The Willamette Falls Locks
in West Linn were the first multi-lift navigational locks in the United States and are now a National Historical Site, although still in use. The first long-distance electrical service
in the United States was also located in Oregon City.
The town is divided into upper and lower areas; the lower area is on a bench next to the Willamette River, and the upper area atop a bluff composed of Columbia Plateau basalt
. For many years, Indian trails connected the two, but stairs were built in the 19th century. In 1915 the town built the water-powered Oregon City Municipal Elevator
to connect the two parts, which was converted to electricity in the 1920s. In 1952, a new electric elevator was constructed with the specification that it was to be "as plain as possible and without ornament."
Oregon City has several neighborhoods represented by official neighborhood associations
- The Park Place neighborhood is in the northeastern corner of the city, located on a bluff overlooking Abernethy Green. The neighborhood includes a housing project, as well as numerous rural properties. Park Place, formerly an independent community, also includes unincorporated areas outside the city limits. First called Clackamas (a name that was later given to a community three miles north), then Paper Mill, the community was finally named Park Place for a park in a nearby oak grove. Park Place was platted in 1889, and a post office was established the following year. For a while the name was changed to "Parkplace."
- The McLoughlin neighborhood is bordered by Washington Street and Singer Hill on the Northwest, a bluff overlooking Abernethy Creek on the northeast and east, and Division Street on the south. It also includes extends to the west to border the Canemah district. The John McLoughlin House and the upper entrance to the Municipal Elevator are located in this neighborhood.
- The Barclay Hills neighborhood lies between Rivercrest Park on the west, the city limits on the east, the McLoughlin Neighborhood on the north, and Warner-Milne Road on the south. This neighborhood is bisected by Molalla Avenue, the former route of Oregon Route 213 before it was moved to the Oregon City Bypass to the east.
- The Canemah neighborhood lies along Oregon Route 99E, and is a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Willamette River and a bluff. Canemah was once an independent city before being annexed into Oregon City. Canemah was founded in 1845 and was the portage site around Willamette Falls for many years. It was supposedly named after an Indian chief.
- The Rivercrest neighborhood includes Rivercrest Park, and the residential communities overlooking the Willamette River to the west.
- The South End neighborhood lies to the southwest of Rivercrest Park. It centers around the intersection of South End and Warner-Parrot roads, and was the location of Oregon City's (now defunct) drive-in movie theater.
- The Hazel Grove/Westling Farm neighborhood lies in the southwestern corner of the city, lying between the bluffs over the Willamette River and the unincorporated areas to the south.
- The Tower Vista neighborhood lies southeast of South End, and east of Hazel Grove/Whistling Farm. It is bordered on the east and southeast by Leland Road.
- The Hillendale neighborhood lies south of Warner-Milne Road, west of Leland Road, north of Clairmont Street and Beavercreek Road, and west of OR 213 and the city limits. City Hall is located here, as is the Clackamas County jail.
- The Gaffney Lane neighborhood, centered around the elementary school of the same name, lies south of Hillendale, west of OR 213, and north/east of the city limits.
- The Caufield neighborhood contains those parts of the city located south of Park Place, and east of OR 213. Clackamas Community College is located here, as is Oregon City High School.
In addition, the downtown core of Oregon City, along with Abernethy Green and those portions of the city north of I-205, are not represented by any neighborhood association.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 25,754 people, 9,471 households, and 6,667 families residing in the city. The population density
was 3,163.9 people per square mile (1,221.6/km²). There were 10,110 housing units at an average density of 1,242.0/sq mi (479.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.44% White
, 1.12% Asian
, 0.11% Pacific Islander
, 1.08% Native American
, 0.58% African American
, 2.15% from other races
, and 2.53% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 4.98% of the population.
There were 9,471 households out of which 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.6% were non-families. 22.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $45,531, and the median income for a family was $51,597. Males had a median income of $38,699 versus $29,547 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,870. About 6.5% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.0% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
For much of its existence, Oregon City's economy has been dominated by the forestry
industry, until the decline of the Pacific Northwest lumber industry started in the 1980s. At its height, several mills operated in the city and surrounding communities; all but one paper mill
have been shuttered.
Today, the city is home to several notable high technology and light manufacturing concerns. Notable companies based in Oregon City include Benchmade, a leading manufacturer of high-end cutlery. Chrome Systems Corporation (formerly Chrome Data) was founded there, but has since moved its operations to nearby Portland. Medrisk, LLC is a major insurance brokerage which does business in the Northwest and is headquartered in Oregon City. In 2006 Anderson Vending Inc. chose Oregon City as its new headquarters.
The city, and several surrounding communities, is served by the Oregon City School District
, a public school district consisting of 10 elementary schools
, 2 middle schools
, a traditional 4-year high school
(Oregon City High School
), and an alternative secondary school. Several schools in the district offer bilingual English
programs. Oregon City High School is the third most populated high school in Oregon, and is a state and national power in girls' basketball
, winning three consecutive USA Today
girls' national championships in the 1990s.
The city also is the home of Clackamas Community College. In addition, numerous private and parochial schools serve the community.
Points of interest
Many historical buildings have been preserved in Oregon City, including McLoughlin's Georgian home
and the Ermatinger House from 1845. The Stevens Crawford Museum is a 1908 structure with 15 furnished rooms, many with their original fittings, as the house was used as a home continuously until 1968.
Other museums include the Museum of the Oregon Territory and the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, with costumed "living history" guides. The city archives also include the incorporation plat for the city of San Francisco.
Oregon City currently has over 22 city parks, with more planned for the future. One of the city's larger parks is Clackamette Park, at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers. The park's features include RV camping, a boat launch and dock, a skateboard park, and other recreational facilities. Several community festivals are held there throughout the year. Other major parks include Chapin, Hillendale, Rivercrest, and the new Wesley Lynn.
The city is served by the following transportation links:
passes through the city's northern edge, and is the only freeway to serve the city. In addition, three state highways (OR 43
, OR 99E
, and OR 213
) pass through or terminate in Oregon City. The former two serve the city's downtown core, the latter provides service to the southern parts of Oregon City.
The Union Pacific Railroad
mainline passes through the city, and provides service to the Blue Heron paper mill immediately west of downtown. The city also has an Amtrak depot
, which is served twice daily in each direction by Amtrak Cascades
trains running between Portland
and Eugene, Oregon
There are no public airports located within the city. Oregon City is served by Portland International Airport
, located 15 miles (25 km) to the north, and by Portland-Mulino Airport
, a general-aviation facility located in the town of Mulino
, located approximately 15 miles to the south.
The Willamette River in Oregon city is navigable
to small craft, and Oregon City has a thriving fishing and recreational boating industry. The Willamette Falls Locks
allow boats to navigate around the falls. The Clackamas River is not navigable, except for the lowermost portions.
As part of the greater Portland metropolitan area, Oregon City is served by TriMet
, the regional transit company, with several bus lines. In the early 20th century, a trolley
line operated by the now-defunct Portland Traction Company
connected Oregon City with Portland; remnants of this line are still visible (such as an abandoned bridge across the Clackamas River, just east of the OR 99E bridge). The City operates a "historic trolley" service during the summer months, primarily to serve the needs of tourism. (The vehicles used are redecorated buses, and operate on roads instead of rails).
Two other transit companies operate service in Oregon City. The South Clackamas Transportation District (SCTD) operates a route between Clackamas Community College on the south east end of Oregon City to Molalla, about 18 miles south on Oregon Route 213. Canby Area Transit (CAT) operates regular service on Oregon Route 99E between the Oregon City Transit Center and Canby. SMART, South Metro Area Rapid Transit, serving Wilsonville, connects to CAT in Canby. (There is also talk of a Canby-Woodburn route, probably operated by Woodburn.)
Dial-a-ride service is operated by TriMet, but CAT also operates within the Oregon City city limits for trips originating or terminating in the CAT service area. If transfers between TriMet and CAT are necessary, they are accomplished at the Oregon City Transit Center (OTC) at 11th & Main, which is at the northeast end of the downtown area.
Oregon pioneer history
Early governors of Oregon
Oregon City was the capital of the Oregon Territory
until 1851; the following governors served during that time:
Other notable figures from the pioneer era
- John C. Ainsworth, pioneer, businessman, steamship captain
- George H. Atkinson, pioneer, missionary, co-founder of Pacific University
- Asahel Bush, pioneer, printer, founder of the Salem Statesman Journal
- Tabitha Brown, pioneer, co-founder of Pacific University
- Captain John H. Couch, seaman and trader
- Philip Foster, settler and businessman
- Gustavus Hines, missionary
- Amory Holbrook, mayor, attorney
- Peter Skene Ogden, explorer and fur trader
- Samuel Parker, politician, pioneer
- Peter G. Stewart, pioneer, politician, watchmaker
- William G. T'Vault, pioneer, postmaster, publisher
- Aaron E. Waite, pioneer, first chief justice of the state of Oregon
- Alvin F. Waller, pioneer, missionary
- Brian Burres, major league baseball pitcher
- Jeff Charleston, professional American football player
- Ed Coleman, major league baseball player
- Jeff Lahti, major league baseball pitcher
- Matt Lindland, Olympics silver medalist in wrestling, mixed martial artist
- Dan Monson, basketball coach
- Jonah Nickerson, pitcher for the Oregon State Beavers men's baseball team, and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 College World Series
- Dean Peters, professional wrestler
- Trevor Wilson, a former major-league pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels
- Lindsey Yamasaki, professional women's basketball player
- John Stalberger and Mike Marshall, the inventors of footbag
Oregon City has one sister city
, as designated by Sister Cities International