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Slider-1-City-from-the-West-SideOregon City is located 13 miles South of Portland at the confluence of the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers. The city has three major zones, defined by steep hills or bluffs. Oregon City is home to shopping areas, recreational opportunities, businesses, a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, and several Interpretive Centers and Museums dedicated to celebrating the Pioneer spirit. Oregon City was the first State Capital and is the County Seat of Clackamas County.


Population in 2013: 34,622
Population change since 2000: +34.4%
Males: 17,598 (50.8%)
Females: 17,024 (49.2%)
Median resident age: 36.3 years
Oregon median age: 36.8 years

Oregon City estimated median household income in 2012: $57,448
Oregon estimated median household income in 2012: $49,161

Oregon City estimated median house or condo value in 2012: $240,609
Oregon estimated median house or condo value in 2012: $223,900

Mean prices in 2009: All housing units: $290,752; Detached houses: $305,203; Townhouses or other attached units: $269,239; In 2-unit structures: $241,574; In 3-to-4-unit structures: $148,518; In 5-or-more-unit structures: $327,614; Mobile homes: $63,607

Median gross rent in 2012: $955.

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City Data

Zip code: 97045

Approximate area of City: 5944 acres; 9.3 sq. miles
Highest Point: 530 feet
Lowest Point: 10 feet
Annual average high temperature: 65°F
Annual average low temperature: 45.3°F
Average temperature: 55.15°F
Average annual precipitation - rainfall: 44.2 inch


•County Seat for Clackamas County
•13 miles south of Portland
•At the confluence of the beautiful Willamette and Clackamas Rivers
•Home of the Willamette Falls
•Interstate 205 passes through the city's northern edge
•Three other state highways (OR 43, OR 99E, and OR 213) pass through or terminate in Oregon City
•The Union Pacific Railroad passes through the city. The city also has an Amtrak depot, with twice-daily service in each direction. Amtrak run the Cascade line between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.
•20 miles to Portland International Airport

  • bridge from north
  • bridge at night
The City of Firsts...

  • Provisional legislature met in Oregon City, 1843
  • Capital of the Oregon Territory, 1844
  • Incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains, 1844
  • Commercial newspaper printed in the West, The Oregon Spectator, 1846
  • Territorial legislature of Oregon Territory meeting, 1849
  • Official plat for San Francisco, filed in Oregon City, 1850
  • Paper mill in Oregon Country, 1866
  • Navigation locks in the Northwest, 1872–73
  • Long distance transmission line of electricity in the nation, Oregon City to Portland, 1889

For more information on the history of Oregon City, visit the city website: HISTORY


Municipal Elevator


In Oregon City's early years, most of the city was located on the “first level” along the Willamette River. As the city grew, it became apparent that an easier way needed to be found to travel to the upper levels of the town. By 1867, steps were built up the bluff to supplement early Native American trails used by city residents. More steps were constructed over the years, but the climb was still difficult because the preferred route had 722 steps from the base of the cliff to the top of the bluff.


In 1912 the City realized the need for an elevator at the bluff. A first ballot failed, but in December 1912 the voters authorized $12,000 in bonds “to construct and operate an elevator from the lower to the upper town at some point to be selected.”


The elevator, constructed of steel and wood, was placed into service on December 3, 1915, a day on which almost the entire population of Oregon City (3,869 persons) rode the elevator. The 89-foot ride to the top involved a wheezing, jerking three to five minutes. Once at the top, it was necessary to cross a 35-foot catwalk that bridged the two sides of the city high above the chasm. When the elevator worked, it generally lowered the water pressure in the surrounding area. When it didn't work, passengers had to wiggle out of a trap door and down a narrow ladder.


By 1924, the hydraulic power was replaced by electricity and the ride was reduced to 30 seconds. Dependability increased with the switchover and the elevator became the preferred method of pedestrian travel. By the 1950's, breakdowns became much more frequent and it was determined that a new elevator was needed to replace the wooden structure.


In January, 1954, the firm of Stevens and Thompson submitted a new design proposal that could be built within $175,000 bond amount approved by voters. The new design produced a low bid of $116,000 and a contract was awarded to James and Yost, Inc. The new elevator was dedicated on May 5, 1955, and the City Commission accepted it on July 13, 1955. At that time, 2,000 elevator passes were printed. Even though the elevator ride has always been free, the distribution of these passes as a keepsake has continued as a City tradition. The existing elevator took over 751 tons of concrete and steel to construct, is 130 feet high, and passengers can zip to the top in 15 seconds. Additionally, passengers now walk through a 35-foot long tunnel under the tracks rather than over the tracks.


The Oregon City Municipal Elevator continues to operate as one of only four municipal elevators in the world and “Elevator Street” remains the only “vertical street” in North America.


Abbreviated from The Municipal Elevator at