UnZip The Zip-Code: History & Hot Spots in Oregon City

Historic Willamette Falls and view of Oregon City paper mills and buildings.
Today we’re in the county seat of Clackamas County – 97045 in Oregon City. Known for being the ‘End of the Oregon Trail’, Oregon City takes pride in being the cultural and historical heart of the state of Oregon. Read on to see some of my favorite things going on in the area.

Hub for History

Located on the east side of the Willamette River and just below the falls, Oregon City was the first permanent Euro-American settlement in the valley and the first incorporated city west of the Rockies. Settled in 1829, the city works hard to preserve it’s long-standing heritage by implementing programs to help conserve and restore historic homes and buildings.

One of the best examples of historic preservation work in Oregon City can be found right on Main Street. The volunteer-led non-profit, Downtown Oregon City Association, was formed in 2009 and became a nationally accredited Main Street program. The association works to rehabilitate storefronts, install public art, and more.

Historic Downtown hasn’t been the only spot in Oregon City to get a facelift. The Oregon City Arch Bridge reopened in the fall of 2012 after a $15 million restoration project. This bridge is among many sites in Oregon City that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There is an object raised 130 feet in the air that some may mistake for a flying saucer, but not to worry, it’s just the Oregon City Municipal Elevator! The “Public Elevator at the Bluff” is another spot on the National Register of Historic Places and connects two neighborhoods in Oregon City. The elevator began serving the population in 1955 and is unique in that it is the only outdoor municipal elevator and one of four remaining in the world. The upper portion of the elevator contains an observation deck, which is a great spot to take the kids.

There are many more historic places in Oregon City that are must-sees for any Oregonian looking to learn about their state’s early history. See a full list of historic sites and museums in Oregon City, including the McLoughlin House, and the popular End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
Willamette Falls Legacy Project

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project began in 2011 as a plan to convert and restore the Blue Heron Paper Co. building and surrounding areas into spaces that will reconnect the public with the natural wonder that is Willamette Falls.

The falls are the largest by volume in the Pacific Northwest and 17th widest in the world. They have long been a part of the areas cultural, economic, and natural landscape. The goal of the Legacy Project is to restore natural habitats while revitalizing the local economy and providing space for cultural appreciation.

The first phase of construction is set to begin in 2017 and will result in a public Riverwalk which aims to give visitors a “front-row seat” to the majestic falls, and a new Willamette Falls Downtown commercial district to serve as a hub of employment, shopping, and tourism.

Living in 97045

Oregon City is a great alternative to big city living. Just 13 miles south of Portland, the total population sits at just 34,000 people. Just because the city is filled with historic homes, doesn’t make it unaffordable. According to Zillow.com, it’s a buyers market in Oregon City with the median home value at $335,300. This is significantly less than the median home value in Portland of $371,800.

With plenty of great parks, community organizations, and of course plenty of history, this community has a lot to offer and continues to grow. You no longer have to commute into Portland to grab a great bite to eat or discover a little bit of culture. With this zip-code spanning over 86 square miles, there’s no way we can touch on everything going on in 97045. Here are just a few of my favorite places to eat and some upcoming events that you shouldn’t miss.
Great Eats in Oregon City

Nebbiolo Restaurant & Wine Market
Located on Main Street, this locally owned wine bar will leave you feeling less like a customer and more like family. Serving lunch, dinner and happy hour, the menu includes full meals as well as Tapas and wonderful desserts. Don’t forget the wine! Nebbiolo offers over 300 bottles of wine for your choosing and with over 30 wines by the glass.

The Highland Stillhouse
You can’t visit Historic Downtown without visiting the Highland Stillhouse. You’ll find the Portland area’s largest selection of Single Malt Scotch right in Oregon City. The Scottish-style Stillhouse also offers great food and entertainment.

Mi Famiglia Wood Oven Pizzaria
Located in the historic Barclay Building This cute street corner restaurant is an obvious favorite of Oregon City locals. The hand-tossed pizzas cooked in a wood oven were tasty with creative combinations. Kids even get their own personal piece of dough to make their own treat to cook and eat.

Singer Hill Cafe
The Singer Hill Cafe is the “place to be in Oregon City.” Go for the great sandwiches and coffee or just stop and simply enjoy the beautiful, vertically-climbing art gardens. This family owned restaurant is famous for their sustainability practices and home-style fare.

Mike’s Drive-In
One of three locations, Mike’s Drive-In in Oregon City offers classic All-American favorites at great prices. Originally opened in 1971, this drive-in is a throwback to simpler times. You can even still get a soft-serve ice cream cone for only $0.99.
Events in Oregon City

Oregon’s First City Celebration – July 22nd
A street fair celebrating the first city in the Oregon Territory.

Oregon Trail Brew Fest – July 23rd

This is the first year of the brew fest, which celebrates breweries across the country that are located along the Oregon Trail.

Oregon Trail Game 5k – August 7th

Based on the popular Oregon Trail computer game, this fun run simulates the cross-country adventures found on the Oregon Trail. The run takes you through historic and beautiful viewpoints of Oregon City.
I hope you enjoyed this brief stop in Oregon’s first city and will take the time to go visit it yourself! Look for me tomorrow morning on KATU’s AM Northwest from 9-10am to see our brand new episode in 97045. Check out all of our previous episodes of UnZip The Zip-Code.

Next month we’ll be visiting Battleground, Washington. Until then, take care!


Mortgage Specialist • NMLS 506902

C: 503.400.5738
Summit Mortgage Corporation • NMLS 3236

A big shout out to Jan Stranski of Windermere! Thank you for providing this episodes’ RMLS information!
Learn more about Oregon City:
Oregon City / www.orcity.org
Oregon City Chamber of Commerce / www.oregoncity.org
Downtown Oregon City / www.downtownoregoncity.org
Historic Oregon City / www.historicoregoncity.org

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