Why Portland?

SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont

There are so many reasons “Why Portland”!

City of Portland (OR) Archives, View of Mt Hood from Pittock Mansion. A2010-015, 2008

It started with our ongoing commitment to rotate the SAA Annual Meeting around the country to make it accessible to all members. It was influenced by the 2013 Annual Meeting Task Force’s recommendation to experiment with convention centers in smaller cities. TravelPortland responded to our RFP with a proposal that made it possible to meet in the Oregon Convention Center without breaking the bank on meeting room rental.

And since then we’ve learned more about the city:

  • Portland has often been touted as the “Greenest City in America”—and the Oregon Convention Center, which is LEEDR Silver certified, emphasizes sustainable meeting options.

Portland Convention Center during construction, 1987. City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2001-015.616.

For more images of the convention center visit the OCC’s Flickr site.

  • It offers tax-free shopping at boutiques, local markets, and the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s Books.
  • Its diverse neighborhoods abound with vibrant coffee shops, brewpubs, and sidewalk dining. And, oh, the donuts! Try my favorite: Blue Star. (A blueberry-bourbon-basil donut, really?)
  • It’s easy and inexpensive to get around via Portland’s TriMet buses and MAX light rail. It’s a pedestrian-friendly city. And Portland International Airport (PDX), located 9 miles northeast of downtown Portland, is conveniently connected to the city center via MAX. The trip takes about 38 minutes and costs $2.50.


1928, City of Portland (OR) Archives, A1999-004.50.

  • It has many acclaimed parks and gardens, including the International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, Classical Chinese Garden, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Forest Park, and Mill Ends Park.
  • If you’re planning a side trip, within two hours you can enjoy year-round skiing on Mount Hood, gorgeous vistas and hiking opportunities in the Columbia River Gorge, Willamette Valley’s world-class wine country, and the scenic towns and beaches of Oregon’s rugged coast.

An article in the January 8 The New York Times travel section named Portland among its “52 Places to Go in 2017”—along with Marrakesh, Great Barrier Reef, and Budapest.

And in the category of “Nancy’s dumb luck”: The 30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival will be held July 26-30 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the banks of the Willamette River, just blocks from the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower (our headquarters hotel). Imagine:  More than 80 independent craft beers in one place at one time!

ARCHIVES 2017: alike/different is aptly named, as you’ll find many of the same great opportunities to learn and interact that you’re accustomed to from SAA conferences. AND we’re shaking up the schedule a bit to accommodate great ideas from the 2017 Program Committee and individual members.  Watch for the full schedule when registration goes live on April 3, but in the meantime, start making plans:

Sunday, July 23: Full-day pre-conference courses on Tool Selection and Management: Finding the Right Tool for the Job and Implementing “More Product, Less Process.”

Monday, July 24: Full-day pre-conference courses on MARC for Archival Description, Tool Integration: From Pre-SIP to DIP, and Arrangement and Description of Electronic Records, Part 1.

Tuesday, July 25: SAA’s 11th Annual Research Forum + four full-day pre-conference courses (Arrangement and Description of Electronic Records, Part 2, Arranging and Describing Photographs, Visual Materials: Born Digital, and Teaching with Primary Resources) + SAA appointed group meetings + repository tours and open houses.

Wednesday, July 26:  Day 1 of the conference features lots of SAA appointed group meetings + the Leadership Orientation and Forum + two blocks of section meetings + (and this is NEW) the Opening Plenary + the All-Attendee Reception.

Thursday, July 27:  Day 2 features two education session blocks + noontime forums + one block of section meetings + Plenary 2 (the presidential address) + the Expo Hall grand opening/reception + the Oregon Brewers Festival (on your own).

Friday, July 28:  Day 3 features three education session blocks + professional and graduate student posters + Expo Hall coffee break, lunch, and closing break + the Annual Membership Meeting + the Oregon Brewers Festival (on your own).

Saturday, July 29:  Day 4 is all new! This full-day forum on community archiving (“The Liberated Archive”) brings together members of the archives community and the Portland community to learn from each other via a plenary session, panel presentations, and an afternoon unconference. Watch the conference website for more information!

So we hope you’ll come for the learning + connections – and stay for the many delights of Portland!

City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2001-030.3763. Washington Park Zoo

Breweries and Pubs of Portland

By Gwen Amsbury and Amber D’Ambrosio

What’s Portland without its beer?  Well known as a hub of micro-breweries and craft beers, Portland is home to numerous pubs and breweries where you can enjoy a nice beverage… or two.  Contributors Gwen Amsbury and Amber D’Ambrosio set out on an adventure to visit several.  Here are some of their favorites.

Within walking distance:

Commons Brewery 

Commons occupies a sizable warehouse space with exposed brewing equipment and offers counter service. The focus is on the beer, but light fare is available for purchase along with a limited brunch menu for the weekend. In the name of research, we sampled a range of their beers, pictured below. They have flights of four available for $10. We chose their flagship ale (Urban Farmhouse Ale) along with the Citrus Myrtle (a sour ale that tasted like the popular Fun Dip candy of the 90s), the Tea Room (a light, fruity, and flavorful saison made with green teas), and the Mr. Irrelevant (a standard IPA, not too hoppy). We highly recommend the Citrus Myrtle and the Tea Room as perfect beers for summer. Typically they have 12 beers on tap with a guest cider to make it a baker’s dozen.

Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery

This is actually one of four Rogue locations in Portland. Be prepared for extensive beer and food menus, including the Independent 19 (a menu of 19 guest beers from independent breweries). It’s a large space with table service. This is where we ate during our research pub crawl. I had a burger and fries, and I cannot recommend the accompanying wasabi mayo strongly enough. It had the perfect combination of wasabi kick and flavor to complement both my burger and the fries. We selected a flight of 4 for $8 to accompany our lunch, and I also ordered the Rogue brewed root beer because I’m always curious about independently brewed root beers. The root beer resembled an old mug root beer that was less sweet with more of a flavorful bite. In our flight we had the Green Dragon Belgian Rose (guest beer that was smooth and rich), the Marionberry Braggot (in honor of Oregon’s famous berry and much more like a mead than we expected – heavy, sweet, and strong when we were expecting light and fruity), the American Amber (a solid amber ale, nothing special), and the Hot Tub Scholarship Lager (chosen for the name…a very mild lager). If none of that sounds appealing, there were pages of options. Pages.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House 

Cascade brewing


This is a smaller space than Rogue or Commons, but they do have patio seating available as well and all with table service. If you have never had sour beer then you need to visit Cascade Brewing. This pub crawl was my first experience with sour beers. I’m hooked. They don’t do flights, but they do offer 2 ounce glasses priced out on the menu, so we went with our traditional 4. We selected the Apricot (so wonderfully sour that you will feel it), the Honey Ginger Lime (the sweetest of our selection with an amazing flavor and less bite), Elderberry (sour and full of flavor but not as sour as the apricot), and the Cherry Bourbonic (this is one of their vintage selections, aged in a bourbon barrel for a year, 12.9%, dark and wonderful and not at all medicinal in flavor). The menu is primarily sour beers, but they do have a couple of standards like the Portland Ale and the Cascade IPA. There’s a light fare menu that includes sandwiches and salads and a dessert menu. I took the Dark Chocolate Bourbon Balls home with me…each bite burned with bourbon. I know Cascade Brewing is going to be a new favorite of mine…much thanks to Gwen for introducing me to it.

Cooper’s Hall

(winery and taproom)

A classy close-in option with a solid selection of guest taps, as well as draft beer and cider (they also offer flights of wine if that’s more your thing). They have a full dinner menu, but their happy hour choices are great including an amazing, full-size veggie burger with fries for $10.

Produce Row


Boasting a large selection of local beers, this is a great place to come if you want to taste what a number of northwest breweries have to offer all in one place. The Row has a food menu that is as extensive as their beer selection. Enjoy their comfortable patio or stay inside and catch the band or musician playing that night.

Across the River (also accessible via the MAX Blue Line)

Kells Irish Pub

(brew pub)

Delicious Irish fare in addition to their line of Irish beers. If you’re craving shepherd’s pie, this is the place to find it. The Irish nachos are also a must for anyone not too worried about their cholesterol. Several of the lighter fare options are vegetarian. Traditional live music can be expected Thursday through Saturday evenings. They also feature sports on the big screens: Portland teams as well as sports popular in Europe like soccer and rugby. There is also a cigar lounge in the basement. In my experience as someone sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke, the cigar lounge doesn’t affect the upstairs dining space.

Thirsty Lion


Reasonably priced food, beer, and cocktails. The space has some of the feel of a traditional English pub, but with the type of diverse beer and food menu characteristic of American gastropubs. The assortment of reasonably-priced cocktails (and food!) brought a colleague and I here during a previous conference, and we were not disappointed. They also offer a range of wine and liquor options. Be prepared for sports on the big screens, but you can easily ignore them by snagging one of the high-backed wooden booths.

Tugboat Brewery 

Tugboat’s website is . . . a little odd, but their taproom and beer are amazing. With a relaxed atmosphere and a good selection of snacks, this is a great low-key spot downtown. Fun fact: Tugboat claims to be downtown Portland’s oldest micro-brewery.

Bailey’s Tap Room

(beer bar)

With an impressive selection of beers on draft, and the added bonus that you can visit their website to see what percentage of each draft remains, Bailey’s is a popular spot for happy hour and beyond. While the tap room does not offer food, you are free to bring in outside food, and with Santeria right across the street, that is a huge plus.

Easy access via MAX (light rail) or the bus

Lucky Lab – dog friendly brew pub with a covered patio.

Pints Brewing Company – has ten beers on tap with a full lunch/dinner menu and daily specials.

Fat Head’s Brewery – wide selection of craft beers and a solid happy hour.

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House – “The brew pub’s 26 taps feature Deschutes mainstays plus a selection of seasonal and experimental beers developed and brewed on site exclusively for the Portland pub by our brewers.” (from the website) – I’ve been to the Deschutes main brew pub in Bend, OR, and I was impressed by both their beer and their food. I have no reason to suspect their Portland pub will be any different.

For the more adventurous >1.5 miles from the conference

Migration Brewing – relaxed, community minded brew pub with a ton of outdoor seating and garage doors that are raised on nice days to let in a lot of light and fresh air. Although I’ve never personally had it, I’ve been told their mac & cheese is the best!
Amber D’Ambrosio is Processing Archivist & Records Manager at Willamette University, a small, urban liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon, where she manages the collections and wrangles ArchivesSpace and Archivematica. In her spare time she discovers that she loves sour beers, writes, reads about early modern London, hikes, travels, and obsessively visits the Oregon Coast.
Gwen Amsbury is an Archives and Records Management Specialist at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Currently Gwen is serving as Secretary and Membership Coordinator for Northwest Archivists, Inc.  She spends her spare time reading, metalworking, and searching for abandoned amusement parks.

Portland with Kids and Families

Contributor: Rachel Thomas.  

Rachel manages the archives of George Fox University and the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends.  She is a Pacific Northwest native and loves sharing the beauty of her region with others.  



Portland is a great place to spend a day with your family.  Whether exploring the zoo, picnicking in a park, or enjoying quality time at a children’s show, your family is sure to enjoy their time in Oregon’s largest city.  Here are a couple of my family’s favorites:

The Oregon Zoo:


Spread over 64 acres in the hills of Portland, the Oregon zoo can easily keep your family busy for an entire day.  Active in conservation efforts, the zoo not only provides a fun family outing but is a wonderful educational opportunity.  Recent changes include a redesigned elephant habitat,  a new baby polar bear, and advances in Condor conservation efforts.  The main lawn of the zoo is the perfect place for a summer picnic under the gaze of the nearby elephants.  

The Portland Children’s Museum:

Portland Children's Museum

The Portland Children’s museum offers a chance for interactive play and learning.  With a dozen permanent exhibits and more rotating in and out, there are many great opportunities for creative fun.  Exhibits are both inside and out, making this a prime location no matter the weather.

Olive Rootbeer and Dingo Dizmal:

O and D prodWP_20150402_032

What’s Portland without some clowns?  Olive Rootbeer and Dingo Dizmal perform in cafes and restaurants around the city and are loved by the children of Portland.  Their shows include music, stories, comedy, tall bikes, face painting, balloon twisting, and more!  A great place to get those wiggles out, Olive and Dingo’s storytimes are fun for the whole family! Please note: Olive and Dingo support themselves through their career as clowns.  Give what you will to support their artistry.  


On hot days the children of Portland gather around fountains for refreshing play.  Teacher’s Fountain along the waterfront is especially fun to splash in! Grab a suit and join in the laughter as you run through the fountains.

Oaks Amusement Park:

Spend a day or an evening at a good old fashioned amusement park.   Oaks amusement park has traditional rides, carnival games, miniature golf, and a roller skate rink.  Whether you love fast rides or enjoy trying your luck with games, you are sure to have a good time.  

In addition days can be spent exploring one of Portland’s many parks, hiking through green spaces.  Many of the museums in Portland offer family or children’s tours.  Check out OMSI, the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society Museum and many more!  The city is full of sights and sounds that are sure to make a memorable trip for your family.

No matter where your family’s interests lie, Portland is sure to have something to delight and amuse you.

Bonneville Power Administration

Contributor: Kaye Silver

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) started during the New Deal to market and transmit hydropower from the Columbia River. At the beginning, power was transmitted from Bonneville Dam and Grand Coulee Dam, but over time the number of dams has grown to 31. The Pacific Northwest played a crucial role in the ship, plane and aluminum supply for the World War II effort, and the power to do this 24/7 was supplied by BPA as a public power agency.


Learn more about BPA’s enormous role in the Pacific Northwest at its Visitor Center, conveniently located across the street from the Double Tree Hotel and blocks from the Oregon Convention Center. This Visitor Center features interactive exhibits as well as publications related to BPA’s history, geography, youth education and business. The historical content in this museum-like exhibit was culled from the BPA Library’s document, photo and film archives.

Visitors are welcome to view current and historic videos, explore BPA’s geography electronically, build their own circuit, and choose from a variety of take-aways, including DVDs of historic BPA films.

The Visitor Center is open to the public and located at 905 NE 11th Ave (across from the Lloyd Center MAX station). The BPA Visitor Center is open between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm, so stop by before or after your conference day, or on a break— from the Convention Center it’s within walking distance or two stops away on MAX. Photo identification is required for entry, paid street parking is available, and there is no restroom access. Contact 503-230-INFO, or visitorcenter@bpa.gov for more information.

Escape From Portland: Day-Trips Outside The City

Escape From Portland: Day-Trips Outside The City


Gwen Amsbury, City of Portland Archives and Records Center

If you think there are a ton of places to visit in Portland, once you step beyond the city limits the options feel endless. Whether you like touring historical sites, visiting small towns packed with things to do, or just getting out in nature and exploring trails (especially the latter), there’s a day-trip for you!


Just Outside of The City


Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (30 minutes) – Technically in Sherwood, this is a great place to quickly get away from the city (and people) and go for a relaxing nature walk.

Fort Vancouver (20 minutes) – Just across the Columbia River, this is a national park that includes four historical sites: Fort Vancouver, Vancouver Barracks, Pearson Air Museum, and the McLoughlin House.

Sauvie Island (30 minutes) – Fruit picking, fresh produce and events at both Kruger’s Farm and the Pumpkin Patch, as well as $6 you-cut lavender at the Sauvie Island Lavender Farm. You can walk out to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse (Warrior Point Trailhead) and there are multiple options for beach access including Collins Beach – where you can find the Sauvie Island UFO. (There’s also a nude beach in case you were wondering.)pic3

Mount Talbert Nature Park (20 minutes) – With a four-mile trail network and picnicking area at the trailhead, this is an easily reached place to go wandering if you don’t want to drive too far.

Champoeg State Heritage Area (40 minutes) – Fishing, hiking, the Newell House Museum, living history in a pioneer log cabin, and yurts!


A Little Farther Afield


Enchanted Forest (1 hour) – Oregon’s second oldest, continuously operating theme park is a piece of living cultural history. Enchanted Forest never disappoints with its DIY animatronics, rickety rides, and unique flare (and, yes, they do have churros).

Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary, Library and Museum (1 hour)– Visit the abbey to see their world-renowned library and an eclectic museum that includes taxidermy and a mineral collection. You can also take a hilltop walking tour to enjoy the grounds and the views.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (1 hour) – Home of the Spruce Goose, the museum offers a wide variety of aircraft and artifacts from aviation history.pic-5

Mount Hood National Forest (1 – 2 hours)Wildwood Recreation Area is a close-in favorite to hike and picnic. Or continue on up the mountain to visit Government Camp or (up near the summit) Timberline Lodge. Bunsenbrewer in Sandy is a great stop on your way to or from the mountain. If you have the time to drive a little further, and don’t mind paying day use fees, be sure to visit the breathtaking Lost Lake.

Willamette Valley Oregon Wine Country (.5 – 2 hours)– The website for Oregon Wine Country has a helpful map to search for wineries and other places to eat and drink along (and just off) the I-5 corridor all the way down to Cottage Grove.


The Columbia River Gorge


Hikes and Waterfalls (varies) – Sometimes it feels like you’re trekking through Middle Earth when you explore the trails and waterfalls in the Gorge to the east of Portland. Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Falls, Angel’s Rest, Dog Mountain, and Coyote Wall/Catherine Creek are among a few to try. Many of the trails are short enough that you can do multiple hikes in a day and see the waterfalls along the Gorge. For example, go out McCord Creek and you can take a marked fork to visit Elowah Falls. For those who don’t want to hike, just driving I-84/Highway 30 you can see a number of waterfalls and include a stop at the famous (but usually crowded) Multnomah Falls (seen below looking a bit like Rivendell).


Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum (1.5 hours) – Takes an interactive approach to showcasing both the natural and cultural richness of the Gorge and Wasco County. Outside of the museum you’ll find walking trails and scenic overlooks.

Maryhill Museum of Art (2 hours) – Including both Native American and 20th century European art, there is also a sculpture garden and the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden. There is a lot packed into the museum so I recommend going to the site for a full picture of what you’ll find.


The Coast


Coastal Nature Areas (varies) -There are plenty of short, close-in hikes along the Oregon coast to explore. Cape Lookout State Park offers a variety of trails, picnic areas and beach access. If you enjoy a good tide pool, take a look at the Oregon Tidepools Map for locations and tips on visiting. Saddle Mountain, on the way to the coast, offers a view of the ocean to those who reach the top. The Siuslaw National Forest stretches along much of the Oregon coast and their website allows you to search by area to find hiking, day use areas, and scenic drives.

North Lincoln County Historical Museum (2 hours) – Among the museum’s exhibits is a permanent display about the long-gone amusement park Pixieland. While in Lincoln City there are secondhand book stores and antique malls to peruse, and tasty restaurants including The Sea Hag.

Tillamook Cheese Factory (1.5 hours) – Like cheese? Then you’ve probably heard of Tillamook. On a visit to the factory you can get a scoop of ice cream, tour the factory, and sample cheese to your heart’s content. Next door is Blue Heron if you haven’t had your fill of dairy (they also have tasty clam chowder).pic9

Astoria (2 hours) – There is a ton to do in this small town. Museums, restaurants, the Astoria Column, a riverfront trolley, the Garden of the Surging Waves and (of course) the Goonies house. You can spend days exploring the town and surrounding area, but it’s close enough to take a short jaunt up to see some of the points of interest. The Columbian Café is one of the best places to eat in town.

Manzanita (2 hours) – This is my favorite coastal town and a great place to get a cute close-to-the-beach rental. If you’re just there for the day be sure to visit the Nehalem Valley Historical Society, get a bite to eat in any of the town’s fantastic restaurants, and trek along the beach or through the nearby Nehalem State Park.


Gwen Amsbury is an Archives and Records Management Specialist at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Currently Gwen is serving as Secretary and Membership Coordinator for Northwest Archivists, Inc.  She spends her spare time reading, metalworking, and searching for abandoned amusement parks.