Portland Walking Tours

The Origin and Truth Behind the ‘Keep Portland Weird’ Motto

February 4th, 2016

The other day we had a guest come in and see our bumper stickers and ask, “So, what’s up with the whole ‘Keep Portland Weird’ thing?” Being from the area, we’ve grown so accustomed to the “weird” things in Portland: the person with a cat on their shoulder, Darth Vader riding a unicycle with a fire breathing bagpipe (aka The Unipiper), donuts shaped like male genitals, a fan club devoted to tacky carpet from the airport, and of course the smallest park in the world, complete with figurines depending on the season. To some it might be weird, but to Portlanders it’s a unique way of self expression. Not caring what people think and being ourselves — that’s what it’s all about… right?


Well, when we look at the origins of the motto, we find it’s more than just a catchy phrase. According to the ‘Keep Portland Weird’ website, our motto is “about supporting local business in the Portland Oregon area…they make Portland stand out from other cities and make it a more unique place to live.” But we’re going to burst your bubble for just a second. Portland was not the first city to adopt this motto. Terry Currier, owner of Music Millennium, was inspired after seeing a local campaign slogan in Austin, Texas (Keep Austin Weird) created by the Austin Independent Business Alliance with the purpose of encouraging folks to buy local. Currier then brought the expression and sentiment here to Portland, and it fits us like a glove. We weren’t the first, nor will we likely be the last city to adopt this motto. We’ve even heard rumors that other cities have already picked it up too. Some like to debate which city actually is the weirdest, and over at sparefoot.com, they’ve put together a fun infographic, seeking to settle once and for all which city is really the weirdest. We’ll give you a hint: it starts with a P and ends with an ortland.


Photo courtesy of realgrumpycat.tumblr.com

If you’d like to take some travel selfies to share with others and reminisce in the fact that Grumpy Cat was once there, you can visit the Keep Portland Weird sign at 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204. And of course don’t forget that Voodoo Doughnut is right across the street. Go treat yourself!

And to learn even more weird stuff about Portland, including the seedy weird side of Portland’s past, come join us on the Underground Portland Walking Tour!

Article by Adriana Bordea


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