Stop #10 – The Expo Center

The Expo Center

The Expo Center is Oregon’s largest multi-purpose facility. Opened in the early 1920s as a livestock exhibition and auction facility, the Expo Center now hosts over 100 events a year, including consumer shows, trade shows, conventions, meetings and other special events.

The 53 acre campus boasts five spacious exhibit halls totaling over 333,000 square feet and ten varied meeting rooms.

It’s the first exit off Interstate 5 going south. Owned and operated by Metro regional government, the Portland Expo Center is managed by the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission.

Halls A, B, and C are currently the oldest buildings in the complex. Halls A and B have 15-foot (5 m) ceiling heights, and hall C has a 25-foot (8 m) ceiling height. Hall A features 48,000 square feet (4,500 m2) of space and can accommodate up to 2,726; Hall B features 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2) of space and can seat up to 2,700. Hall C, which has 60,000 square feet (6,000 m2) of space, seats up to 4,736.

Hall D, the newest building in the complex (built in 2001), replaced an older exhibit hall. It has 72,000 square feet (6,700 m2) of space, a 30-foot (9 m) ceiling height, can be divided into two exhibit halls and can seat up to 7,000. Hall E, built in 1997 is the largest exhibit hall in the complex with 108,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of space and a 30-foot (9 m) ceiling height. It seats up to 9,000.

The Expo Center was once the home of a giant stockyard. More beef was butchered in the area than in any other town in the Northwest. Local butchers joined together in 1893 to form the Union Meat Company. In 1906, Swift & Company purchased the business and set up shop on the Columbia Slough in 1909, establishing a new meat packing plant. Swift then purchased adjacent land to the plant in order to establish a company town, Kenton.

Swift employed over 1500 workers and had a plant that included the Portland Union Stockyards, Portland Cattle Load Company, Columbia Wool Basin Warehouse, and Swift’s Kenton Traction Company which operated a streetcar line to carry workers to and from the meat packing plant.

Kenton’s rail yards and location along the Columbia River made shipping convenient. Today, the MAX Yellow Line terminates at the Expo Center, just North of Kenton.

(more at page bottom)

Hayden Island Virtual Tour

NEXT: Portland Raceway
PREVIOUS: Delta Park