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Lake Oswego, Oregon facts for kids

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Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Oswego Lake in the center of the city
Oswego Lake in the center of the city
Flag of Lake Oswego
Official seal of Lake Oswego
Location in Oregon
Location in Oregon
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Country United States
State Oregon
Counties Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington
Founded 1847, incorporated 1910
Named for Oswego, New York
 • Total 11.44 sq mi (29.63 km2)
 • Land 10.78 sq mi (27.92 km2)
 • Water 0.66 sq mi (1.71 km2)
249 ft (76 m)
 • Total 36,619
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,693.72/sq mi (1,426.16/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (Pacific)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 503 and 971
FIPS code 41-40550
GNIS feature ID 2411606
Elevation from the Geographic Names Information System

Lake Oswego is a city in the U.S. state of Oregon, primarily in Clackamas County, with small portions extending into neighboring Multnomah and Washington counties. Located about 8 miles (13 km) south of Portland and surrounding the 405-acre (164 ha) Oswego Lake, the town was founded in 1847 and incorporated as Oswego in 1910. The city was the hub of Oregon's brief iron industry in the late 19th century, and is today a suburb of Portland. The population in 2010 was 36,619, a 3.8% increase over the 2000 population of 35,278.


Early history

The Clackamas Indians once occupied the land that later became Lake Oswego, but diseases transmitted by European explorers and traders killed most of the natives. Before the influx of non-native people via the Oregon Trail, the area between the Willamette River and Tualatin River had a scattering of early pioneer homesteads and farms.

19th century

Oregon Iron Company Furnace restored
Restored remains of the 1866 Oregon Iron Company furnace, George Rogers Park.

As settlers arrived, encouraged by the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the subsequent Homestead Act, they found the land under-occupied.

Albert Alonzo Durham founded the town of Oswego in 1847, naming it after Oswego, New York. He built a sawmill on Sucker Creek (now Oswego Creek), the town's first industry.

In 1855, the federal government forcibly relocated the remaining Clackamas Indians to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in nearby Yamhill County.

During this early period in Oregon history, most trade proceeded from Portland to Oregon City via the Willamette River, and up the Tualatin River Valley through Tualatin, Scholls, and Hillsboro. The thick woods and rain-muddied roads were major obstacles to traveling by land. Along the rivers of this area can still be seen the vestiges of river landings, ferry stops, and covered bridges of this period. A landing in the city's present-day George Rogers Park is thought to have been developed by Durham around 1850 for lumber transport; another landing was near the Tryon Creek outlet into the Willamette.

In 1865, prompted by the earlier discovery of iron ore in the Tualatin Valley, the Oregon Iron Company was incorporated. Within two years the first blast furnace on the West Coast was built, patterned after the arched furnaces common in northwestern Connecticut, and the company set out to make Oswego into the Pittsburgh of the West. In 1878, the company was sold off to out-of-state owners and renamed the Oswego Iron Company, and in 1882, Portland financiers Simeon Gannett Reed and Henry Villard purchased the business and renamed it the Oregon Iron and Steel Company.

Portland Mormon Temple (Clackamas County, Oregon scenic images) (clacDA0239)
The Portland Oregon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is located in Lake Oswego.

The railroad arrived in Oswego in 1886, in the form of the Portland and Willamette Valley Railway. A seven-mile-long line provided Oswego with a direct link to Portland. Prior to this, access to the town was limited to primitive roads and river boats. The railroad's arrival was a mixed blessing; locally, it promoted residential development along its path, which enabled Oswego to grow beyond its industrial roots. But nationally, the continued expansion of freight railroad system gave easy local access to cheaper and higher quality iron from the Great Lakes region. This ultimately led to the local industry's demise.

By 1890, the industry produced 12,305 tons of pig iron, and at its peak provided employment to around 300 men. The success of this industry greatly stimulated the development of Oswego, which by this time had four general stores, a bank, two barber shops, two hotels, three churches, nine saloons, a drugstore, and even an opera house.

The iron industry was a vital part of a strategy designed by a few Portland financiers who strove to control all related entrepreneurial ventures in the late 19th century. Control of shipping and railroads was held under the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, later to become the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. This local monopoly responded to the area's increasing demand for iron and steel, and grew to play a key role in economic history throughout the area.

20th century

Lake Oswego Railroad Bridge
Lake Oswego Railroad Bridge across the Willamette River, Lake Oswego, Oregon, April 2008

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company adapted to the new century by undertaking programs in land development, selling large tracts of the 24,000 acres (97 km2) it owned, and power, building a plant on Oswego Creek starting in 1905, and erecting power poles in subsequent years to supply power to Oswego citizens. With the water needs of the smelters tailing off, the recreational potential of the lake and town was freed to develop rapidly.

In 1910, the town of Oswego was incorporated. The Southern Pacific Railroad, which had acquired the P&WVR line at the end of the 19th century, widened it from narrow to standard gauge and in 1914, electrified it, providing rapid, clean, and quiet service between Oswego and Portland. The service was known as the Red Electric.

Passenger traffic hit its peak in 1920 with 64 trains to and from Portland daily. Within nine years of the peak, passenger service ended and the line was used for intermittent freight service to Portland's south waterfront up until its abandonment in 1984. The line was preserved, however and the Willamette Shore Trolley provides tourist rides on the line today.

One of the land developers benefiting from sales by OI&S was Paul Murphy, whose Oswego Lake Country Club helped promote the new city as a place to "live where you play." Murphy was instrumental in developing the first water system to supply the western reaches of the city, and also played a key role in encouraging the design of fine homes in the 1930s and 1940s that ultimately would establish Oswego as an attractive place to live. In the 1940s and 1950s, continued development helped spread Oswego's residential areas.

Mass transit service after the end of electric interurban service was provided by Oregon Motor Stages, but that company suspended all operations following a drivers strike in 1954. In 1955, a newly formed private company, Intercity Buses, Inc., began operating bus service connecting Oswego with downtown Portland and Oregon City. This service was taken over by TriMet in 1970.

In 1960, Oswego was renamed Lake Oswego when it annexed part of neighboring Lake Grove.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.35 square miles (29.40 km2), of which, 10.68 square miles (27.66 km2) is land and 0.67 square miles (1.74 km2) is water. That area does not include the more than 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) of unincorporated land within the urban services boundary as defined by Clackamas County.

Oswego Lake is a private lake (an expansion of an earlier natural lake, named Waluga (wild swan) by Clackamas Indians) managed by the Lake Oswego Corporation. The lake supports watercraft, and a dock floats at the lake's east end where boaters can disembark and walk to the nearby businesses. The main canal from the Tualatin River was dug in the early part of the century.

Every five to ten years, the water level in the lake is lowered several feet by opening the gates on the dam and allowing water to flow into Oswego Creek and on to the Willamette River, enabling lakefront property owners to conduct repairs on docks and boathouses. In 2010, the lake was lowered approximately 24 feet (7.3 m) to allow for construction of a new sewer line, the lowest lake level since 1962 when the original sewer line was installed.

The city extends up Mount Sylvania and through Lake Grove towards Tualatin.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 96
1890 544 466.7%
1920 1,818
1930 1,285 −29.3%
1940 1,726 34.3%
1950 3,316 92.1%
1960 8,906 168.6%
1970 14,615 64.1%
1980 22,527 54.1%
1990 30,576 35.7%
2000 35,278 15.4%
2010 36,619 3.8%
2019 (est.) 39,822 8.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 36,619 people, 15,893 households, and 10,079 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,428.7 inhabitants per square mile (1,323.8/km2). There were 16,995 housing units at an average density of 1,591.3 per square mile (614.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.3% White, 0.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 5.6% Asian, 1.0% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.7% of the population.

Of the 15,893 households, 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.6% were not families. About 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the city was 45.8 years; 22.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21% were from 25 to 44; 35.1% were from 45 to 64; and 16.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.3% male and 52.7% female.

In the city, the population was distributed as 24.8% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 31.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males. The median income for a household in the city was $71,597, and for a family was $94,587 ( Males had a median income of $66,380 versus $41,038 for females. The per capita income for the city was $42,166, and 3.4% of the population and 2.3% of families were below the poverty line. Of the total population, 2.0% of those under the age of 18 and 4.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Cultural and recreational facilities

The city maintains 573 acres (2.32 km2) of parks and open spaces. This includes 24 developed parks, one amphitheater, one swim park, one water sports center on the Willamette River, an adult community (senior) center, a public golf course (self-financed), an indoor tennis center, seven outdoor tennis courts, and five picnic shelters. An additional swim park is open to those who live in the boundaries of the old Lake Grove School District. The private Oswego Lake Country Club and neighboring equestrian riding club add to the recreational amenities of the city.

Lake Oswego has one public library, part of the Library Information Network of Clackamas County. From 2002 to 2006, the library was rated among the top 10 libraries serving similar population sizes in the United States.

Sister cities

Lake Oswego has two sister cities:

  • "Lake Oswego".. 


Largest employers

According to Lake Oswego's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the principal employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Lake Oswego School District 757
2 Micro Systems Engineering 387
3 City of Lake Oswego 345
4 Mary's Woods at Marylhurst 330
5 Navex Global 283
6 Marylhurst University 250
7 Logical Position 200
8 The Greenbrier Companies 183
9 New Seasons Market 162
10 Black & Veatch 119

Notable people

  • LaMarcus Aldridge (1985– ), former NBA player for the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Art Alexakis (1962– ), founder and lead singer of multiplatinum band Everclear
  • Allen Alley (1954– ), Republican nominee for Oregon state treasurer in 2008, Republican candidate for Oregon governor in 2010
  • Jon Arnett, NFL player and member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • Luke Askew (1932–2012), actor.
  • Daniel Baldwin (1960– ), film actor, producer, and director
  • Nicolas Batum (1988– ), player for the Los Angeles Clippers
  • J. J. Birden (1965– ), NFL wide receiver
  • Frank Brickowski (1959– ), NBA player
  • Walter F. Brown (1926– ), Navy commander JAGC, judge, state senator, 2004 presidential candidate for the Socialist Party USA
  • Terry Dischinger (1940– ), basketball gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics and NBA player from 1962 to 1973
  • Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (1980– ), Former NBA player
  • Mike Erickson (1963– ), businessman and candidate for U.S. Congress in 2006 and 2008
  • Rudy Fernández (1985– ), NBA player for the Portland Trail Blazers (2008–2011)
  • Stu Inman (1926–2007), co-founder of the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Neil Lomax (1959– ), NFL quarterback 1981–88
  • Lopez Lomong (1983– ), U.S. Olympic Team track runner 2008 & 2012, and one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan
  • Stan Love (1949– ), player 1971–1975 and father of Kevin Love
  • Merrill A. McPeak (1936– ), former USAF chief of staff
  • Linus Pauling (1901–1994), winner of two Nobel prizes, in peace and chemistry; author and educator (Ancestors of Pauling moved to Oswego in 1882.)
  • Julianne Phillips (1960– ), model, actress, former wife of Bruce Springsteen, co-star of 1990s TV series Sisters
  • Henry Selick (1952– ), stop-motion director and animator: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline
  • William Stafford (1914–1993), U.S. Poet Laureate 1970–71
  • Drew Stanton (1984– ), NFL quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals
  • Salim Stoudamire (1982– ), professional basketball player
  • Michael Stutes (1986– ), MLB relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Nathan Farragut Twining (1897–1982), chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1957–1960

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