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Portland’s most iconic landmarks

Consider these our Hollywood signs — though we actually have one of those too.

The Portland Oregon Sign in Old Town.

The city took ownership of the 50-by-52-ft sign in 2010.

Photo by @lilplanets

We’ve all been there: Someone’s trying to give you directions by describing 10 lefts, 20 rights, and a jumble of cardinal directions. Isn’t it easier to just point out a landmark?

That’s exactly what we’re doing. We have 11 of the most recognizable Portland landmarks — from a leaping neon sign to a skyscraper with a rosy personality. Not only are these local icons easy to remember, but they’ll also get you where you need to go in a jiffy.

White Stag Sign

Address: 70 NW Couch St.

Nearby: Portland Saturday Market, Voodoo Doughnut Old Town, Lan Su Chinese Garden

One of the most recognizable elements of Portland’s skyline, the “Portland Oregon Sign” has displayed several different messages and advertisements over its lifetime, warmly welcoming westbound travelers on the Burnside Bridge. Each year, the prancing deer’s nose glows red, a la Rudolph, from the day after Thanksgiving through the holiday season. Fun fact: In 1959, White Stag Sportswear’s CEO Harold S. Hirsch added the festive touch as a display of affection for his wife Elizabeth.

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon

Pioneer Courthouse Square hosts Flicks on the Bricks, a free outdoor movie series.

Photo by LWYang

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Address: 715 SW Morrison St., Ste. 702

Nearby: The Nines Hotel, Pioneer Place, Director Park

Throughout its history, this city block fondly referred to as “Portland’s Living Room” has hosted a schoolhouse, hotel, and parking lot, which eventually gave way to today’s public plaza. Fun fact: You can have a brick engraved and installed in the square for $125.

An aerial photo shows the reflective facade of U.S. Bancorp tower, AKA Big Pink, in Portland, Oregon.

Find Big Pink is a fun game to play wherever you are in Portland.

“Big Pink”

Address: 111 SW Fifth Ave.

Nearby: Roseland Theater, 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod, Dante’s

Officially called the U.S. Bancorp Tower, the second-tallest building (536 ft) in the City of Roses gets its nickname from the handpicked materials architect Pietro Belluschi used in its construction — pink Spanish granite and pink glazed plate glass. Fun fact: Portland City Grill on the 30th floor serves steak and seafood with unrivaled panoramic views.

An aerial view of the Oregon Convention Center shows two glass spires and expansive solar panel coverage.

Aprrox. 6,500 solar panels provide 25-30% of the convention center’s electricity.

Oregon Convention Center (OCC)

Address: 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Nearby: The Rose Quarter, Spirit of 77, Metro Regional Center

With 255,000 sqft of contiguous exhibit space, OCC is one of the largest event venues in the Pacific Northwest and is also LEED Platinum certified. During the day, its glass spires let light inside, and at night, they are illuminated by programmable LED fixtures. Fun fact: The building houses “Principia,” one of the world’s largest Foucalt pendulums.

St. Johns Bridge soars above a glassy Willamette River in North Portland.

Of the 400 bridges he designed, David B. Steinman said he loved the St. Johns Bridge best. “I put more of myself into that bridge than any other bridge.”

Photo by OregonDOT

St. Johns Bridge

Address: 8600 NW Bridge Ave.

Nearby: Forest Park, Wonderwood Springs, Urban German Wursthaus

Spanning 1,207 ft, the lofty suspension bridge was the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1931. Gothic-style arches and the now-iconic “ODOT Green” paint make it one of the most photographed structures in the state of Oregon. Fun fact: Cathedral Park — sprawled beneath the northeastern end of the bridge — is available to rent for weddings.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry sits on the side of the Willamette River.

The OMSI District master plan hopes to transform Portland’s waterfront.

Photo by @mayerreed

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Address: 1945 SE Water Ave.

Nearby: Hampton Opera Center, Audrey McCall Beach, Mt. Hood Brewing Co. Tilikum Station

Located on the banks of the Willamette River, this hub for learning contains exhibit halls, interactive labs, a planetarium, the Empirical Theater, and a submarine that you can tour. Fun fact: OMSI’s history can be traced to a collection of artifacts in Portland’s City Hall.

A cave featuring a shrine at The Grotto in Portland.

Workers carved out a cave to house a shrine featuring “The Pietà.

The Grotto

Address: 8840 NE Skidmore St.

Nearby: Rocky Butte Farmers Market, My-O-My

The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother is an outdoor Catholic shrine encompassing a 110-ft basalt cliff in Northeast Portland. The 62-acre property was once a quarry owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, and today, visitors of all beliefs are welcome to stroll its gardens. Fun fact: Around Christmastime, the Festival of Lights offers caroling, puppet shows, and more holiday cheer.

A thin waterfall descends to a pond with yellow leaves floating on its surface at the Portland Japanese Garden.

Each season brings a unique beauty to the Portland Japanese Garden.

Portland Japanese Garden

Address: 611 SW Kingston Ave.

Nearby: International Rose Test Garden, Oregon Zoo, Washington Park Amphitheater

Blossoming out of the deeply rooted cultural ties between Japan and Oregon, former Mayor Terry Schrunk and the Portland community sought to create a space that healed the wounds of World War II and inspired visitors through natural beauty. Fun fact: Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo Agricultural University designed five distinctly styled areas to represent the evolution of Japanese garden architecture.

Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon.

Henry and Geogiana Pittock only lived in the mansion for four years before they died.

Photo by Steven Pavlov

Pittock Mansion

Address: 3229 NW Pittock Dr.

Nearby: Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Audubon, Hillside Community Center

Before moving into their house on the hill in 1914, Henry and Georgiana Pittock led adventurous lives: the former being a titan of industry and a mountain climber, and the latter founding the Portland Rose Festival. Fun fact: After the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 damaged the opulent residence with hurricane-force winds, the public helped save the site from being torn down and turned into a subdivision by raising $67,500.

The ornate facade of Portland's Hollywood Theatre.

An early ad called Hollywood Theatre a “palace of luxury, comfort and entertainment unsurpassed by any theatre on the Coast.”

Hollywood Theatre

Address: 4122 NE Sandy Blvd.

Nearby: Gado Gado, Doe Donuts, The Moon and Sixpence

Unlike the original Hollywood sign, you don’t have to hike uphill on a dusty trail to visit this silver-screen destination. The Spanish Colonial Revival building opened in 1926 as a 1,500-seat cinematic palace, drawing architectural inspiration from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica. Though its past is filled with vaudeville shows and second-run movies, today it hosts lectures, film festivals, record releases, and more.

The facade of Montgomery Park building in Northwest Portland.

In 1985, Bill Naito changed “Ward” to “Park” on the building’s sign.

Photo by Steve Morgan

Montgomery Park building

Address: 2701 NW Vaughn St.

Nearby: Adidas Employee Store, Lower Macleay Park, Freeland Spirits

Constructed in 1921 on the site of the Lewis and Clark Exposition as a mail-order warehouse for Montgomery Ward & Company, the building demonstrated cutting-edge industrial design for its time, featuring fireproof, steel-reinforced concrete. Fun fact: The original layout was L-shaped; now, guests can marvel at the nine-story U-shaped glass atrium renovated in 1982 by SERA Architects.

What did we miss? If you know a landmark that’s not on the list, let us know.

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