When you say Portlandia, most immediately think of Fred and Carrie and the dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland. Portlandia is so much more than a hit TV show about Northwest hipsters and angry cyclists.
Portlandia is a copper sculpture created by Raymond Kaskey perched above the entrance to the Michael Graves’ building, home to the Portland’s parks and rec department, in downtown Portland. For being the second largest copper statue in the world, only rivaled by Lady Liberty herself, she’s very inconspicuous, many including myself have walked past her dozens of times.
Portlandia was built in sections in Washington D.C. and shipped to Portland by ship. She was then assembled, measuring 34 feet,10 inches ( if standing upright she would measure 50 feet tall) and floated on a barge up the Willamette River. On October 6, 1985 she was installed in her cozy alcove on the 3rd floor of the Portland Building like the world’s largest tchotchke.
The statue design is based on the Portland seal. She is dressed in classical clothes, holding a trident in her left hand symbolizing the abundance of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, and her right hand is reaching down to greet visitors. She is massive yet she is easily walked past without the slightest glance upward.
People have questioned why not move her to a more prominent location? The answer given, she was built for that particular building space and will not be moved. The sculpture is a product of Portland’s Public Art Program.
Next time you’re downtown, look her “up” – otherwise you’ll walk right past her.
Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Avenue.