Found at the southern end of Willamette Valley, Eugene is the second largest city in the entire state of Oregon. Eugene is the seat of Lane County and has a population of 156,185 residents according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The University of Oregon, the second oldest university in the state and founded in 1876, calls Eugene home. The city is reputed for its emphasis on the arts, activism, and recreational opportunities such as bicycling, rafting, and kayaking. The slogan it has adopted is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors.” Other nicknames for Eugene include the “Emerald City,” “the anarchist capital of the United States,” as an anarchist community originated there that later gained some national notoriety, the “Grassy City” and “Track Town, USA,” as the Nike Corporation originated therein.
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Eugene was named after Eugene Franklin Skinner, who, in 1846, erected the first cabin in the area and is credited with the city’s founding. The area was then known as “Skinner’s Mudhole” and the cabin was used as a trading post. The University of Oregon was founded a few years after the construction of Columbia College, which was the Eugene’s first major educational institution. The town itself raised the funds to build the university with the intention to turn Eugene into a center of learning.
The city spans an area of 40.54 square miles today and is elevated at 426 feet. It is part of the Marine West Coast climate zone, yet maintains some Mediterranean qualities. The climate seems extreme in its variance, with warm, dry summers, and wet winters. But the variety is deceptive. Eugene’s climate is generally mild, rarely suffering temperatures below freezing and highs just scraping above 80 degrees. However, the pollen count in Eugene is one of the highest in the world and the absolute highest in the US.
The “Grassy City” is frequently the origin of many community development trends. The planning process of the University of Oregon itself was participatory and was called “The Oregon Experiment.” The project inspired a book, which was named after it and later became one of the influential texts in the architectural and planning sector of modern enlightenment thinking. Another influential, best-selling architectural book, A Pattern Language, was also heavily influenced by researching the developments of Eugene.