Historic "Portland" sign at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall about to come down for renovation

An Oregon icon is set for a major tune-up as Metro renovates the famous "Portland" sign on Broadway Avenue at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Work on the sign, which is 33 years old, is scheduled to begin on May 2, subject to permitting and weather. When the "Portland" sign goes back up, it will have a fresh coat of paint and brighter neon letters – but will otherwise look just like the sign hanging today.

The sign will come down in segments and the project will take about two months while crews from Bellevue, Washington-based Tube Art Group perform the renovation work. The $500,000 project is being funded by Portland'5 Centers for the Arts' capital fund.

Several sign components need maintenance and repair, including some of the sheet metal on the sign that is corroding. The sign’s neon letters also need to be replaced. The paint on the south-facing side of the sign has faded over the years. When the renovation work is finished, the sign will have new aluminum components and a new coating that will be more corrosion and UV resistant which will keep the sign safe from Portland weather for years to come. 

"The Portland sign has been a landmark for three decades, and is a fitting tribute to the original sign that hung on the Paramount Theatre before 1984," said Robyn Williams, executive director of Portland'5 Centers for the Arts. "We look forward to unveiling the renovated sign this summer."

The 65-foot-high "Portland" sign first went up in 1928, when it was opened as the Portland Publix Theatre. In 1930, the sign was changed to say "Paramount," as the theater was contracted with that studio to show Paramount films. When the theater opened as the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in 1984, the sign was changed back to say "Portland."

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is a part of Portland'5 Centers for the Arts, a service of Metro. In addition to the concert hall, Portland'5 Centers for the Arts also operates the Keller Auditorium and the Newmark, Winningstad and Brunish theatres at Antoinette Hatfield Hall.

Greater Portland's issues and opportunities cross city and county lines. That's why Metro serves 1.5 million people in the region, with oversight by the directly-elected Metro Council. Metro runs the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Expo Center and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Metro also manages 17,000 acres of natural areas, oversees the region's solid waste and recycling system, protects farms and forests and supports 24 cities and 3 counties in planning for our future.

Read more about the sign renovations, including frequently asked questions and fun facts.

April 17, 2017