The American city of Portland has many faces. The oldest part of the city is the entertainment area where you'll also find Chinatown, although the Chinese district isn't as enjoyable as for example the one in San Francisco. The city's business district is located Downtown, which is dominated by modern buildings but it also has a beautiful park along the river (Tom McCall Waterfront Park). Here you'll also find most museums. And finally there's Pearl District, which used to be an industrial area, but it's now a trendy district with many art galleries, bars, cafés and restaurants.
The city has approximately 580,000 inhabitants, but almost 2.2 million people live in the entire metropolitan area of Portland and surroundings.
Portland is located in the state of Oregon, in the northwest of the United States. The city lies on the Willamette River, just south of where it discharges into the Columbia River, over 120 kilometers from the coast. East of Portland lies the 3426 meters high Mount Hood which is easily visible from the city.
Portland's largest employer is computer components manufacturer Intel, known for its logo on many PC's: Intel Inside. Many other technology companies are also based here, which led to Portland's nickname 'Silicon Forest', a reference to the green surroundings and the well-known 'Silicon Valley'. Some sportswear manufacturers also have their American headquarters in Portland (for example Adidas and Nike). From the old days, steel industry plays an important role in local economy and agricultural produce from the hinterland, mainly wheat, are exported via the port.
The city's airport, Portland International Airport, is situated 15 kilometers northeast of the center. It's easily reachable by rental car. From the center you cross the Morrison Bridge and drive to the airport via the I-84 E (Banfield Expressway) and the I-205 N. Pay attention at the junction of those two freeways, as you can easily go the wrong way.
Portland has excellent public transport, consisting of an extensive network of buses, streetcars, a light-rail system and a cableway. The majority of the buses, streetcars and light-rail lines run via the city center. The streetcars and light-rail lines in the center (Downtown) are free. There's also a cableway, called the Portland Aerial Tram, between the university grounds and the South Waterfront.
Even the inhabitants of Portland complain about the traffic situation in the city center. Streets are closed off on a regular basis or unclear restrictions are imposed. Finding a free parking place for your rental car is also difficult and expensive (according to American standards). A rental car is, however, an ideal means of transportation to discover the rest of Oregon.
Portland has a good choice of accommodations, ranging from basic guesthouses to luxurious hotels. Many of the more expensive hotels are geared towards business travelers. The Benson is an attractive, historical hotel Downtown.
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