beaver boundary

place, politics and power in oregon

Emerald Empire: Eugene Reclaims Second-Largest City Status November 20, 2007

Filed under: Geography — taoiseach @ 2:33 pm

Kudos to the people of Eugene, who have once again saved the state of Oregon from relative embarrassment by reclaiming its status as the second-largest city from Salem. The populations of each city hover around 150,000, and the vibrantly crunchy Emerald City has just recently outpaced the drab and dull Cherry City in growth. This information is according to the Population Research Center at Portland State University (warning: Excel file) and comes courtesy of the Eugene-based Oregon Ecology blog.

Even if you prefer Salem for cultural or provincial reasons, you may root for a faster-growing Eugene if your politics are left-of-center. Of course, Eugene is a liberal haven that almost always supports Democrats (though its home county, Lane, is particularly against local taxes). All of the Eugene area‘s state representatives and senators (5 of the former, 3 of the latter), are Democrats, and future growth may mean more seats allocated to the Emerald City and its environs. By contrast, the Salem-Keizer area is served by 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats in the House, with 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat in the state House. Though the Salem area may be politically moderate, it consistently sends Republicans to the statehouse. Moreover, in contrast with the Eugene-Springfield area, Salem-Keizer seems to disproportionately claim a larger share of legislative district.

Should Eugene’s growth as the second-largest city continue apace until the 2010 census, the Democrats could hold out hope for a shift of one or two Salem-area districts further down I-5. Of course, this may make the Emerald districts more competitive for Republicans, but one would hope that the GOP would simultaneously lose their geographic advantage in Salem-Keizer.

But for now, the Boundary will take the consolation that Salem has been bumped down another notch among Oregon’s largest cities. Though, it should be said, even its status as third-largest city greatly overstates its prominence among Oregon’s cultural attractions.

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2 Responses to “Emerald Empire: Eugene Reclaims Second-Largest City Status”

  1. Poor, Poor Cherry City. Can’t get any respect from anyone! And I should know, I grew up there–and look where I live now. Portland.

    I recall Brian Hines over at Hines Sight echoed that vibe when one of the handful of exciting eateries in Snailem closed down.

    Of course, the reason we call it Snailem is because the pace of life is unforgivably slow for a city that’s halfway from 100,000 to 200,000 in population. I always feel my perspective self-limiting when I pull off the I-5 to go visit my parents.

    By the way, where did you get that map you used as the illo? It links to the Salem lege district map, and I couldn’t find it anywhere on the City of Eugene website. I’d like to get a better look at it.

  2. Mike Clark Says:

    Type “eusp” in where it currently reads “sake” in the browser address line.


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