Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for roses, rivers, and recycling

Pittock Mansion
Rose gardens in Washington Park
Two of Portland's nicknames are the "City of Roses" and the "Rose City." Portland's reputation for roses dates back to 1888, when Georgiana Burton Pittock, wife of newspaper publisher Henry Pittock, invited people to display their roses in a tent in her garden. (The Pittocks are also known in Portland for the legacy they left behind, the beautiful Pittock Mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Around the same time, Madame Caroline Testout, a large pink hybrid tea rose bred in France, was introduced to the city. Thousands of roses were planted along Portland's streets in preparation for the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition. Portland's climate and soils are ideal for growing roses.

We celebrate our roses with:
  • An annual Portland Rose Festival (which I discussed in Q is for Queens and Quimby and of which Georgiana Pittock was a cofounder)
  • Many rose gardens, but the biggest and most famous is the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park (the oldest continuously operating public test garden in the  U.S., with more than 7,000 plants of approximately 550 varieties)
  • Rose garden walking tours
  • Rose's Restaurant--When I was in high school, my best friend Ken and I used to frequent the right-out-of-New-York, old-fashioned Rose's all the time. A real New York style deli, Rose's specialized in enormous deli-sized sandwiches and amazing desserts. Rose's vacated Portland in the early 1990s, but now it has outposts in suburban Sherwood and Vancouver. Reading about Rose's made me realize I need to take my teenage son there--it's right up his alley! Do any other Portlanders remember going to the old Rose's?
    The old Rose's restaurant on NW 23rd
    • Portland Rose Society
    • Rose Show
    • Rose City Park and neighborhood
    • Rose Garden Arena: Now called the MODA Center, Portland's largest sports and entertainment centers once was named after our roses. Until last year, it was one of the few last National Basketball Association facilities that had not sold its naming rights. Sadly no more. Most people still call it the Rose Garden.
    • Raven & Rose Restaurant, an English-style pub, got some great publicity last fall when it was used as a filming spot for Grimm (read about Grimm in G is for Grimm and greenspaces).  
      The beautiful building housing
      the Raven & Rose

    Willamette River (taken on one of my lunchtime walks)
    Portland is near the confluence of two rivers: the Willamette (which flows through the city) and the Columbia. The Willamette is a major tributary of the Columbia River and accounts for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. It flows between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range. Humans have been living on the Willamette River watershed for 10,000 years; of course most of that time it was Native Americans who inhabited this valley. The Willamette Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in North America, which is why it was the destination of the Oregon Trail pioneers. The river has more than 50 bridges.
    River at night
    The mighty Columbia--Oregon is on the right, and Washington on the left
    The nearby Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. Beginning in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, it flows northwest and then south into Washington state, and then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean (near Astoria, where my family visited in 2011). The Columbia is 1,243 miles long, the fourth-largest river in the United States. Its main stem has 14 hydroelectric dams because of its heavy flow and steep gradient. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the Columbia River's hydroelectric potential: Roll On, Columbia

    Read about the lovely Columbia Gorge in J is for Just Minutes Away.

    Native Americans fishing at Celilo Falls
    The Columbia River has been critical to the culture and tradition of Native American tribesCelilo Falls was a tribal fishing area on the river, the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. During spring flooding, ten times more water passed over Celilo Falls than passes over Niagara Falls.
    But in 1957, the falls and nearby settlements were submerged by construction for The Dalles Dam. Although the tribes received some compensation, their economic livelihoods were shattered, and history was lost forever.


    Portland is on all sorts of lists as one of the country's (or even the world's) greenest cities, and this is partly due to Portland's dedication to recycling. After all, Oregon was the first state in the country to enact a bottle bill in 1971 (we pay a deposit when we buy bottled or canned beverages and receive the money back when we return them).

    The City of Portland has a goal to reduce waste and raise the recycling rate to 75 percent by 2015. Not only do we recycle the usual newspaper and glass, but we also recycle yard waste, mixed paper, and some plastics, and we even compost food waste. Garbage is picked up every other week to encourage recycling and composting. Businesses are also required to recycle.

    We are so obsessive about our recycling that, of course, Portlandia made a sketch about how to sort your recycling.

    Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: Storm Large, the Simpsons, and sports.

    1 comment:

    1. My business goes through a lot of paper everyday. Certain aspects of the company prevent us from being totally paperless. Rather than throw all this paper away, it would be nice to have a recycling service to take care of it. It would be more economical and make me feel a little better about using all that paper.