Salem /ˈseɪləm/ is the capital of the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat of Marion County. It is located in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River, which runs north through the city. The river forms the boundary between Marion and Polk counties, and the city neighborhood of West Salem is in Polk County. Salem was founded in 1842, became the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851, and was incorporated in 1857.
Salem had a population of 154,637 at the 2010 census, making it the third largest city in the state after Portland and Eugene. Salem is less than an hour driving distance away from Portland. Salem is the principal city of the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that covers Marion and Polk counties and had a combined population of 390,738 at the 2010 census. A 2013 estimate placed the metropolitan population at 400,408, the state's second largest.
The city is home to Willamette University, Corban University, and Chemeketa Community College. The State of Oregon is the largest public employer in the city, and Salem Health is the largest private employer. Transportation includes public transit from Salem-Keizer Transit, Amtrak service, and non-commercial air travel at McNary Field. Major roads include Interstate 5, Oregon Route 99E, and Oregon Route 22 which connects West Salem across the Willamette River via the Marion Street and Center Street bridges.
|City of Salem|
The Oregon State Capitol.
|Nickname(s): The Cherry City|
Location in Marion and Polk Counties, state of Oregon.
From May through October the Salem Saturday Market, located north of the Capitol, exhibits an emphasis on local products including crafts, baked goods, produce, meat, and other items. In addition to the Saturday Market, there is a Wednesday Farmers' Market hosted downtown in Courthouse Square during the summer, as well a Holiday Gift Market in December. The 60+ year old, indoor Saturday Public Market is open all year round.
The annual World Beat Festival, held in June, is sponsored by the nonprofit Salem Multicultural Institute. The event lasts for two days and is held at the Riverfront Park. It features international crafts, music, dance, food, and folklore from every continent, and in recent years has held a Dragon Boat race similar to the ones held during the nearby Rose Festival in Portland.
The Salem Art Association sponsors the annual Salem Art Fair and Festival, which takes place at Bush's Pasture Park during the summer. Its displays, interactive exhibits, food, and performances attract thousands of visitors each year.
The Bite of Salem, held in July at the Riverfront Park, is an event similar to others such as the Bite of Oregon in Portland. The event consists of a weekend of local restaurants in Salem offering samples of their menus to patrons in a festival atmosphere, with live entertainment and benefiting local charities. In the summer, Chef's Nite Out is a wine and food benefit held for Marion-Polk Food Share. Oregon Wine & Food Festival takes place at that state's fairgrounds in January.
The largest event in Salem is the Oregon State Fair at the end of August through Labor Day. Located in the Oregon State Fairgrounds in North Salem, the fair offers exhibits, competitions and carnival rides. Other events such as concerts, horse shows and rodeos take place at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center throughout the year.
The Mid-Valley Video Festival offers local, national and international independent films in theaters throughout the city.
The Salem Film Festival has included feature films that were Oregon premieres.
The Salem Repertory Theatre presents shows at the Reed Opera House. The Pentacle Theatre, which features plays and musicals, is located in West Salem. The Elsinore Theatre is a historic landmark featuring recitals, concerts, films, and plays. It has the largest working pipe organ on the west coast, a remnant of its days as a showcase for silent films, in the early days of cinema. Grand Theater ( Historic Grande Theatre )is undergoing renovation and has hosted the Salem Progressive Film Series and other shows.
Capitol Pride (Salem's yearly Gay Pride Event) is held in early August
In addition to the Oregon State Capitol and adjacent Willson Park, Salem's downtown contains the Mission Mill Museum, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Elsinore Theatre, Riverfront Park, the Willamette River, some of the oldest buildings in Oregon, as well as shopping and restaurants. The A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village interactive children's museum and Prewitt-Allen Archaeological Museum are both also located in Salem.
The two leading candidates for the tallest building in Salem are Salem First United Methodist Church and the Capitol Center. A private survey commissioned by a local publication holds that the church is the tallest. The tall white spire of the 1878 church rises at the intersection of Church and State Streets across from the Capitol grounds. The Capitol Center (originally the First National Bank Building, then the Livesley Building) was built in 1927 by former Salem mayor Thomas A. Livesley, a prominent Salem-area businessman and civic leader. At that time of its completion, it was the tallest commercial building in the state
In 1988, Livesley's family home was purchased through private donations and was donated to the state. It now serves as the official residence of the Governor and family. Now known as Mahonia Hall, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1990.
The Oregon Symphony, based in Portland, presents approximately ten classical and pops concerts each year in Salem. The Salem Chamber Orchestra includes professional area musicians as well as students. The Salem Armory Auditorium has hosted touring bands including Korn and Phish.
The Salem Concert Band is a community band made up of professional and amateur musicians that performs several classical and pops concerts annually.
Because Salem is the state capital, it has a multitude of government agencies, departments, and boards housed in buildings with architectural designs ranging from the early 20th century to examples of state-of-the-art civil building design.
The historic Reed Opera House in downtown Salem has a number of local shops and dining establishments, as well as an art gallery.
Salem has been awarded "Tree City USA" status by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 30 consecutive years for its dedication to urban forestry. Salem was the first city in Oregon to receive the award. In keeping with the city's "Cherry City" theme, flowering cherry trees have been planted along many Salem streets as well as on the Capitol Mall across from the Capitol.
The Salem Public Library's main branch is located just south of downtown. A branch library is located in West Salem (Polk County). The Library participates in the Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service, so Salem Public Library cards are also valid in the member libraries in Yamhill, Polk, Marion, and parts of Linn County. In addition to the Salem Public Library the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University is open to the public as well, although the hours are limited.
Salem's Department of Community Services Parks Operations Division is responsible for a park system encompassing 1,874 acres (758 ha) with 29.53 miles (47.52 km) of trails, 46 parks, and another 55 open and undeveloped areas.
Minto-Brown Island Park is the largest at 898.9 acres (363.8 ha).
Bush's Pasture Park, a 90.5 acres (36.6 ha) urban park a few blocks south of downtown Salem, features natural groves of native Oregon White Oak trees, the historic Bush House, a rose garden, and adjacent Deepwood Estates.
Other city parks include 101-acre (41 ha) Cascade Gateway Park and 23-acre (9.3 ha) Riverfront Park which is adjacent to downtown and the Willamette River and is home to the Salem Carousel. Marion Square Park is downtown next to Marion Street Bridge and has a skatepark and basketball court. The skatepark also allows bicycles. Marion Square Park was laid out by city founder William H. Willson, and is the next oldest municipal park in Salem after Willson Park at the Oregon State Capitol.
Across the Willamette River in West Salem is the 114 acres (46 ha) Wallace Marine Park, which includes a boat ramp and floating boat dock allowing easy access to the river for water sports. The NRHP-listed Union Street Railroad Bridge, repurposed as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, connects Wallace Marine Park and West Salem to Riverfront Park and downtown Salem.
The capitol grounds, which is maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, cover three city blocks and include Willson and Capitol parks.
Other large parks located in the Salem area include 1,680 acres (680 ha) Willamette Mission State Park north of the city, and Silver Falls State Park east of Salem. Both of these parks have extensive hiking, biking, and horse trails.
Salem's central location provides access to a wide variety of recreational activities in a variety of climates and geographies year round. The Coast Range and the Pacific Ocean is to the west. The Santiam Canyon area, the Western Cascades and the High Cascades are to the east. Portland and its environs are to the north, while Eugene and its environs are to the south.
Salem also provides two great Disc Golf courses. A nine hole course located in the woods of Woodmansee Park (located behind Judson Middle School), and a more open style 18 hole course located throughout Cascade Gateway Park. They are both free and open to the public.