By the 1970s, Portland had well established itself as a progressive city, and experienced an economic boom for the majority of the decade; however, the slowing of the housing market in 1979 caused demand for the city and state timber industries to drop significantly. Helens, a highly active volcano 50 miles (80 km) northeast of the city in Washington state, is easily visible on clear days and is close enough to have dusted the city with volcanic ash after its eruption on May 18, 1980.
The city's increased presence within the cultural lexicon has established it as a popular city for young people, and it was second only to Louisville, Kentucky as one of the cities to attract and retain the highest number of college-educated people in the United States. According to a 2017 survey, several of these faults were characterized as "probably more of a hazard" than the Cascadia subduction zone due to their proximities to population centers, with the potential of producing magnitude 7 earthquakes.
It was the first American city to have residents report thus, The article, which focused on crime boss Jim Elkins, became the basis of a fictionalized film titled Portland Exposé (1957).
In spite of the city's seedier undercurrent of criminal activity, Portland enjoyed an economic and industrial surge during World War II. Kaiser had been awarded contracts to build Liberty ships and aircraft carrier escorts, and chose sites in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, for work yards.
The city had its own Japantown, The city housed a large number of saloons, bordellos, gambling dens, and boardinghouses which were populated with miners after the California Gold Rush, as well as the multitude of sailors passing through the port.
During World War II, it housed an "assembly center" from which up to 3,676 people of Japanese descent were dispatched to internment camps in the heartland.
To the west of the Tualatin Mountains lies the Oregon Coast Range, and to the east lies the actively volcanic Cascade Range. Johns Bridge, a Gothic revival suspension bridge built in 1931, to the north. Jackson Memorial Bridge and the Interstate Bridge provide access from Portland across the Columbia River into Washington state.
It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
Portland's access to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette and Columbia rivers, as well as its easy access to the agricultural Tualatin Valley via the "Great Plank Road" (the route of current-day U. Route 26), provided the pioneer city with an advantage over other nearby ports, and it grew very quickly.
Portland remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattle's deepwater harbor was connected to the rest of the mainland by rail, affording an inland route without the treacherous navigation of the Columbia River.
The Willamette River, which flows north through downtown, serves as the natural boundary between east and west Portland.
The denser and earlier-developed west side extends into the lap of the West Hills, while the flatter east side fans out for roughly 180 blocks until it meets the suburb of Gresham.