Portland was named by a coin flip.



How did Portland get its name? (And who doesn’t know the right answer?)


It’s a story that every third-grader in Oregon knows. As recounted by PDXHistory.com:

Portland got its name when Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove flipped a coin in 1845. Lovejoy was from Massachusetts and he wanted to name the new settlement Boston. Pettygrove was from Maine and wanted to name the new town Portland. Pettygrove won the coin toss two out of three times and the rest as they say is history.

As Travel Portland (formerly POVA) notes, it actually happened – and the historical penny is on display at the Oregon Historical Society. And just a month ago, the Oregonian’s history columnist said Asa Lovejoy “famously flipped the coin that gave Portland its name.”

Just about everyone in Oregon knows this story.

But do you know who does NOT know how Portland got its name?

From yesterday’s OPB News:

You heard that right. Gordon Smith believes that “Portland is called Portland because it’s a Port.”

No, Senator Smith, it’s not.

Portland is called Portland because the city’s founder, Francis Pettygrove, won a coin toss. Otherwise, we’d be Boston.

This is just embarrassing.

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