Portland State University History

To meet the education needs of GIs home from World War II battlefields, Portland State University found its first home in Vanport, a city along the Columbia River built to house wartime shipyard workers.

The Vanport Extension Center opened its doors the summer of 1946 to 220 students, offering the first two years of college study.

The institution survived a devastating flood in 1948 and was moved three times, ultimately residing at its current location in downtown Portland, Oregon, on the iconic South Park Blocks in 1952.

In recognition of its quality and tenacity, the Oregon Legislature granted it a four-year college status in 1955. For the new Portland State College, this was the first spark in an explosion of growth—in programs, faculty, and students—leading to full university status in 1969.

Portland State University is now an urban research university encompassing 50 city blocks, nine schools, 226 degree programs, 29,000 students, including 1,700 international students from 91 countries, and 170,000 alumni.

We invite you to enjoy a timeline of Portland State University's history in pictures.