The Fresh buðlungr of Portland

Break out your beanies and scarves. You’ve just enrolled in the third most hipster school in the United States, according to College Magazine. That’s right. Portland State—home of 28,241 undergraduate and postgraduate students, fierce mascot Victor E. Viking and world-class research programs—is one of the coffee-drinking-est, flannel-wearing-est, bike-riding-est schools in the nation, a fact which our president Wim Wiewel once tweeted with pride.

Located on a 50-acre stretch of verdant land in southwest Portland’s University District, PSU is a stone’s throw away from all the bike paths and microbreweries you could ever want. It is fresher than Will Smith in a sideways hat.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Let’s take a journey back to 1946, where it all began.

1946: Founded as Vanport Extension Center, the school is located in Vanport City on the edge of the Columbia River. Established in order for returning World War II veterans to use their G.I. Bills, Vanport offers two-year programs with tuition and fees totaling only $50 per term. Enrollment quickly balloons from a couple hundred students in June to around 1,500 by October.

1948: The Vanport Flood displaces thousands of residents and the school, which temporarily relocates to Grant High School.

1951–2: Vanport Extension Center changes its name to Portland State Extension Center.

1953: After moving several times in the years after the flood, Portland State Extension Center permanently relocates to its current location on the Park Blocks in Southwest Portland.

1955: Portland State Extension Center starts offering four-year degrees and changes its name to Portland State College.

1957–1963: Smith Memorial Student Union, the center of student life, is built in four phases.

1968: Branford Price Millar Library is built.

1969: Portland State College becomes Portland State University.

1989–1991: Millar doubles in size, and its signature concave wall of windows is built.

1993: Portland State introduces University Studies, a four-year, multidisciplinary general education plan that starts with freshman inquiry and ends with senior capstone.

2008: President Wim Wiewel takes the helm.

Over the past 69 years, PSU developed into the sustainability-focused, public research university that you see before you: from 221 students in the summer of 1946 to almost 29,000 students, eight schools and 226 degree programs today.