Local Life and Lore in Portland

Master these quintessential key terms and pronunciations and blend right in.

No sales tax in Oregon means a $3 burrito actually costs $3.

Photo by: Food.com user: Teddy's Mommy

Food.com user: Teddy's Mommy

No sales tax in Oregon means a $3 burrito actually costs $3.
By: Ryan Ritchie
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Willamette (Wil-LAM-ette) 
A river and an alternative weekly newspaper are two of the most popular things named after this Oregon toponym.

Oregon (Oree-gun or Or-gun, not Orah-Gone) 
Portlanders pronounce their home state one of two ways. Just don’t pronounce the second syllable as “gone” or that’s what you’ll be.

Eugene (eu-GENE, not EU-gene) 
Located two hours south of Portland, the town of Eugene is where you'll find the University of Oregon and a sea of green paraphernalia sporting the school's mascot, the Oregon Duck. Many Portland residents did time at the U of O and wear that Duck pride on their sleeves.

Couch Street/Couch Park (Cooch) 
A street and a park are named after early settler John Couch, a sea captain who once owned the land on which the city’s Alphabet District sits. Say "Couch" like it’s something you sit on, and locals won’t know what you’re talking about.

OMSI (Om-see, not O-M-S-I) 
OMSI is Portland speak for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, home to the most technologically advanced planetarium in the Pacific Northwest. OMSI offers budding scientists five exhibit halls and eight science labs to enjoy while parents take in the scenic view of the Willamette River.


Stumptown, PDX, Rose City, Beervana -- nicknames for Portland

PDX -- the three-letter abbreviation for Portland International Airport. The city has a slew of rose gardens, leading to the Rose City moniker. Beervana is a mix of the words “beer” and “nirvana” and for beer lovers, it’s easy to understand why the term applies: Portland has more breweries than Munich, Germany, and 11 percent of the beer consumed in Oregon is locally made craft beer (the national average is 3.5.)

brewpub -- a restaurant with a brewery designed to sell and consume beer on site

vegan -- Many Portland eateries have separate vegan menus that include more than salads and water. In 2006, PETA’s GoVeg.com named Portland the country’s best vegetarian city for its abundance of affordable and delicious vegan restaurants.

zine -- short for fanzine. Portland is a mecca for these do-it-yourself publications that focus on a very specific subject. “Front Mortgage” is a 40-page look into purchasing a home for punk rockers; “Somnambulist” gives Martha Grover and her cohorts the opportunity to tell stories of favorite watering holes while showcasing art. There’s even a freebie called “PDX Zines” that lists where to find locals zines.

McMenamins -- Brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin are locally famous for taking nontraditional buildings like a mortuary and an elementary school and turning them into pubs serving homebrew.


In Oregon, it’s illegal for motorists to pump their own gas, which means that person approaching you at the gas station isn’t a car jacker; he wants to pump your gas.

No sales tax in Oregon means a $3 burrito actually costs $3.

The city isn’t laid out on a traditional grid, but getting around Portland is easier when you learn this: The Willamette River is the dividing line between the west and east sides of the city, and Burnside Street is the city’s north-south divider. North-south streets are numbered and east-west streets are named.

It doesn’t rain all the time in PDX -- just from October to June, with the occasional sprinkle between July and September. Seriously, some of those days see only light rain but the heavy-downpour days are another story. Some locals carry umbrellas for slight drizzle, but many go sans umbrella, embracing the wetness and all its replenishing glory.

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