Portlandia, She's Not Just A Show On IFC

When you say Portlandia, most immediately think of Fred and Carrie and the dream of the 90’s being alive in Portland. Although northwest hipsters with beards and angry cyclists are synonymous with Portland culture these days, Portlandia— the sculpture—has been an iconic Portland landmark for locals for over 30 years. Portlandia is a copper sculpture created by Raymond Kaskey. She is the second largest copper statue in the world, only rivaled by Lady Liberty herself. Despite her enormous size, her perch above the entrance to the Michael Graves’ building, home to the Portland’s parks and recreation department downtown, can make her rather inconspicuous to uneducated passersby.  Portlandia, Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

When you say Portlandia, most immediately think of Fred and Carrie and the dream of the 90’s being alive in Portland. Although northwest hipsters with beards and angry cyclists are synonymous with Portland culture these days, Portlandia— the sculpture—has been an iconic Portland landmark for locals for over 30 years.

Portlandia is a copper sculpture created by Raymond Kaskey. She is the second largest copper statue in the world, only rivaled by Lady Liberty herself. Despite her enormous size, her perch above the entrance to the Michael Graves’ building, home to the Portland’s parks and recreation department downtown, can make her rather inconspicuous to uneducated passersby.  Portlandia, Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

Portlandia was built in Washington D.C., in sections and then shipped to Portland by ship. She was then reassembled, 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. 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.

For the extensive history of Portlandia click here.

 

Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Avenue.  

Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Avenue.