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Large numbers of pioneer settlers began arriving in the Willamette Valley in the 1830s via the Oregon Trail, though life was originally centered in nearby Oregon City.
In the early 1840s a new settlement emerged ten miles from the mouth of the Willamette River, In 1845 Overton sold his remaining half of the claim to Francis W. Both Pettygrove and Lovejoy wished to rename "The Clearing" after their respective hometowns (Lovejoy's being Boston, and Pettygrove's, Portland).
Council Crest Park, commonly thought of as the highest point within city limits, is in the West Hills and rises to an elevation of 1,073 feet (327 m) The city's actual high point is a little-known and infrequently accessed point of 1,180 feet (360 m) near Forest Park. Tabor, an extinct volcanic cinder cone, which rises to 636 feet (194 m). Other bridges that span the Willamette river in the downtown area include the Burnside Bridge, the Ross Island Bridge (both built 1926), and the double-decker Marquam Bridge (built 1966).
Nearby Powell Butte and Rocky Butte rise to 614 feet (187 m) and 612 feet (187 m), respectively. Other bridges outside the downtown area include the Sellwood Bridge (built 2016) to the south; and the St.
Portland remained the major port in the Pacific Northwest for much of the 19th century, until the 1890s, when Seattle's deepwater harbor was connected to the rest of the mainland by rail, affording an inland route without the treacherous navigation of the Columbia River.The Willamette River, which flows north through downtown, serves as the natural boundary between east and west Portland.The denser and earlier-developed west side extends into the lap of the West Hills, while the flatter east side fans out for roughly 180 blocks until it meets the suburb of Gresham.Portland is approximately 100 miles (160 km) upriver from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia. Three of downtown's most heavily used bridges are more than 100 years old and are designated historic landmarks: Hawthorne Bridge (1910), Steel Bridge (1912), and Broadway Bridge (1913).Though much of downtown Portland is relatively flat, the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains, more commonly referred to locally as the "West Hills", pierce through the northwest and southwest reaches of the city. Portland's newest bridge in the downtown area, Tilikum Crossing, opened in 2015 and is the first new bridge to span the Willamette in Portland since the 1973 opening of the double-decker Fremont Bridge.
At the turn of the 20th century, the city had a reputation as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world, a hub for organized crime and racketeering.