Portland Speak | University of Portland

Portland Speak

Now that you’ve learned all about “Pilot Speak,” here are some words and phrases you’ll need to know about the great city of Portland before you officially call it home. Be sure to check out our Oregon Pronunciation Guide and these maps of Portland to get a feel for the "City of Roses."

University of Portland Land Acknowledgement

city of Portland buildings


NW 23rd Avenue is lined with shops and restaurants, and is close to Washington Park. Together with NW 21st Avenue, it is the main street in the Nob Hill neighborhood. 


NE Alberta Street is the heart of the Alberta Arts district and has several art galleries, shops, and restaurants.  On the last Thursday of every month from June to August, Alberta hosts a festival called Last Thursday for creatives, artists, musicians, and street performers.  

Cathedral Coffee

Popular coffeehouse right by Cathedral Park. Stop by on the weekend to find many UP students doing their homework and socializing!

Cathedral Park

Day use park located under the east end of the St. Johns Bridge, named for the cathedral-like arches supporting the bridge.

City of Roses

Prominent nickname for Portland since 1889 when the Portland Rose Society planted 20 miles of roses in the city.

The Coast 

It’s not the beach or the shore… true Oregonians call it the coast! Globally renowned for its rugged beauty, the Oregon Coast offers everything from sandy beaches and quaint towns to world-class hiking, camping, and surfing. Temps at the coast can really fluctuate, so if you go, be sure to bring a jacket!

Couch Street

Pronounced “kootch” street. Named for Captain John Heard Couch, a sea captain and an early settler and co-founder of Portland, Couch Street runs east to west through Portland. 


Located in SE Portland, Division Street is home to some of Portland’s most famous restaurants.


Downtown Portland is located on the west bank of the Willamette River, in SW Portland. It is home to some of Portland’s main cultural destinations (the Portland Art Museum, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the Keller Auditorium) as well as countless restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. 

The Esplanade (or Eastbank Esplanade)

Floating Pedestrian and bicycle path along the east shore of the Willamette River.

Forest Park

A large park across the Willamette River that has miles of trails!

Farmers Markets

Portland hosts weekly farmers markets all over the city, where you can purchase farm-fresh produce and artisanal food items. The closest to UP’s campus is the St. Johns Farmers Market, which is just over 2 miles from campus at N Charleston Ave & N Central Street.

Fox Tower

27 story skyscraper located Downtown that houses a movie theater showing both independent and blockbuster films.

Forest Park 

One of the largest city parks in the country, Forest Park is visible across the Willamette River from campus and offers more than 70 miles of hiking and jogging trails. 


Fred Meyer, your one-stop shopping center with two locations near the University.

Glisan Street

Pronounced "gleeson" by most Portlanders, Glisan Street is named for Dr. Rodney Glisan (who actually pronounced his name "glissan"), a prominent medical doctor who lived in Portland in the 19th century.

The Gorge

 The Columbia River Gorge is home to countless waterfalls, breath-taking views, and world-class hiking trails. Popular spots include Multnomah Falls and Dog Mountain.

photo of waterfall

Green Zebra

Local grocery store featuring only healthy and organic food items.


SE Hawthorne Boulevard is one of the streets that helps keep Portland weird. Located in the heart of SE Portland, Hawthorne is known for its counter-culture shops.


The main freeway running north/south from Canada to Mexico.

Keep Portland Weird!

A popular slogan for the city found on many bumper stickers and signs.

Liquid Sunshine

When it rains in the Pacific Northwest, but it is still sunny outside.

Lloyd Center

Shopping mall and ice rink located in the Lloyd district not far from the Rose Quarter.


Main thorough fare in North Portland, located just a few blocks east of campus.

The MAX 

The MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) is Portland’s lightrail system and connects downtown Portland with Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, North/Northeast Portland, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and Portland International Airport. The closest MAX stop to campus is at the intersection of N. Interstate and N. Rosa Parks. 


McMenamin's is a chain of restaurants, brewpubs, music venues, historic hotels, and movie theaters. Famous for their eccentrically restored historic buildings (such as the St. John’s Pub and the Kennedy School), McMenamin’s locations can be found in nearly every Portland neighborhood.

Mississippi and Williams 

N. Mississippi Avenue and N. Williams Avenue are parallel streets about a half mile apart that feature a long stretch of shops, restaurants, music venues, and bars. Located in the heart of a Portland's historically African American community, the area has a rich and complex cultural past. Learn more from the King neighborhood association.

MODA Center 

Primary indoor arena in N/NE Portland. Home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, the Moda Center also hosts the WHL's Portland Winterhawks games as well as concerts and events throughout the year.

Mt. Hood

Highest mountain peak in Oregon, located about 50 miles southeast of Portland.

New Seasons

Grocery store goodness. Champions of supporting regional farms and businesses.


Nickname for North Portland, the area of Portland where UP is located.


Park Blocks

Beginning at Portland State University and extending 12 blocks to the Schnitzer Concert Hall outlining Portland's cultural district and serving as the home for Saturday Market.


Portland International Airport, rated the country’s best airport several times. PDX is also a nickname for the city of Portland. (20 minutes from campus.)

View of downtown Portland from Bridge

The Pearl District (or simply The Pearl)

One of Portland’s poshest neighborhoods, the Pearl District (located just north of downtown in NW Portland) offers a wide variety of galleries, restaurants, and shops, including the famous Powell's Books. On the first Thursday of every month, the Pearl District hosts a district-wide celebration where art galleries and businesses stay open late to debut new exhibitions with free food and wine. 

Pioneer Courthouse Square 

Affectionately known as “Portland’s Living Room,” Pioneer Courthouse Square is located in downtown Portland and hosts a wide variety of events, including the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Pirate Festival

Two day family-friendly event in North Portland featuring crafts, music, ships, and of course, pirate costumes.

Portland Saturday Market 

Portland Saturday Market is a large outdoor arts and crafts market located in downtown Portland. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday from March until Christmas.


Located in Portland's Pearl District, Powell's City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world.

Providence Park

Outdoor sports venue in SW Portland. Home of MLS's Portland Timbers and NWSL's Portland Thorns. (15 minutes from campus).

Rip City 

Nickname for Portland usually in reference to the Portland Trailblazers, coined by announcer Bill Schonely.

Rose City 

The official nickname for Portland, sometimes also worded as “City of Roses.”

Rose Festival

Annual festival in Portland held every June known for its parades, fireworks, dragon boat races, and court of princesses.

Rose Garden

Beautiful area of Washington Park, but also a term used by locals to refer to the MODA center.

Rose Quarter 

The Rose Quarter is located near downtown in N/NE Portland, and is home to the Moda Center (where the Portland Trailblazers play) and the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. It is also one of the city’s main public transportation hubs.

Soccer City USA 

A nickname for Portland, due to the city’s world-famous support for the Portland Timbers, the Portland Thorns, and — of course! — the Portland Pilots.

Sauvie Island

Originally called Wapato Island, Sauvie Island is the largest island of the Columbia River located at the junction of the Willamette and Multnomah basins accessible via Hwy 30. About half of the land is a wildlife refuge and the other half hosts several rural farms.

St. Johns 

The neighborhood northwest of the University, with many shops, restaurants, and the famous St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park.

photo of St Johns Bridge

The Streetcar 

The Portland Streetcar is a public transportation option that services areas surrounding downtown Portland, including NW 23rd, the South Waterfront, and the Central Eastside.


 A common nickname for Portland. The name originated from the many stumps created when Portland first became a city.

Swan Island

 Neither a swan nor an island. The shipyard and industrial area on the Willamette River that is visible from campus.

The Bluff

The hillside UP sits on. Go to the left side of the Baccio Commons for a great view of downtown from the Bluff.


TriMet is Portland’s public transportation system, including bus and The MAX (light rail). Two bus lines stop next to campus: the #44 and the #35. Both connect to the Rose Quarter and downtown Portland.


Twilight Room. A popular sports bar located on the corner of Stanford and Lombard.

University Park

The neighborhood surrounding UP.


University of Portland!

Voodoo Doughnuts

Chain of doughnut shops in Portland known for their novelty styles of decorating pastries and iconic pink to-go boxes.

Washington Park 

Located just above downtown Portland, Washington Park is home to the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Portland Japanese Garden, among many other attractions. 

The Waterfront

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a popular area along the Willamette River for festivals and events.


Pronounced “Will-AM-it.” Named from a Clackamas Native American village, the Willamette River flows through Portland and divides the east and west sides of the city. It's next to the University of Portland campus. The University’s address is 5000 N. Willamette Drive.