PORTLAND, Ore. – Attend a soccer game at Providence Park and you may hear people chanting, “We are the Rose City, the mighty PTFC!” Thousands of supporters flock to the park on match days to watch the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC take to the pitch, competing in a sport that is beloved by many in the Pacific Northwest. From the athletes, to the fans, to the many events that have shaped “Soccer City USA,” We are the Rose City! A History of Soccer in Portland, opening at the Oregon Historical Society (1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland) on July 24, explores the history of professional soccer in Portland and the cultural context of the game.
Portland entered the professional soccer world in 1975, when the Timbers took to the field at Civic Stadium for the first time — and the city fell in love. 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the Timbers joining Major League Soccer (MLS), and Portland’s love continues to grow. The two-time National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champion Portland Thorns played their first season in 2013. The Thorns boast an impressive history, sending multiple players to represent the U.S. in the Olympics and the World Cup.
One of the most iconic aspects of Portland’s soccer culture are the fans — including the Timbers Army and the Rose City Riveters — that fill Providence Park with a deafening roar on match days. This is an exhibit about soccer, but it is also one about community — the community of Portland and its love of the world’s game.
(Oregon Historical Society)
“We are thrilled to partner with the Oregon Historical Society to provide visitors an immersive, unique, and one-of-a-kind experience on the history of Soccer City USA,” said Mike Golub, Timbers president of business. “As both the Timbers and Thorns return to play this month, this exhibit is a great reminder why Portland is a soccer city second to none.”
Through storytelling and rare objects loaned by the clubs and fans, visitors to the exhibit will learn about the many milestones in Portland’s 45 years professional soccer history. Highlights include:
- A photo op with a chainsaw on loan from Timber Joey and a log slice that is a portion of the Victory Log from the 2019 season.
- Nearly 300 hanging scarves of unique design, and the original sketch designing the iconic No Pity scarf.
- An original tifo banner featuring the exhibit title made by the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107IST).
- The form distributed in newspapers statewide to nominate the name for what became the Timbers in 1975.
- The NASL certificate that granted the Timbers a franchise.
- A Diego Valeri-autographed ball from the Timbers’ 2015 MLS Cup championship game, in which he scored a goal in the first 27 seconds of the game. He donated the ball to the 107IST.
- Rings from soccer legend Clive Charles (signifying his coaching the 2000 Summer Olympics U.S. men’s team and the University of Portland championship women’s soccer team in 2002).
- Objects from Gisele Currier, a longtime Timbers supporter who was ever-present in the Timbers Army, along with her sister, Paula.
- Artifacts from nine semi-professional and professional teams.
- Soccer Universe graphic, showing the interconnectivity of more than 600 soccer entities, including youth, high school, college, semi-professional, and professional teams across the state.
- Objects from the early days of the Timbers Army.
After nearly four months closed, the Oregon Historical Society successfully re-opened its museum to the public on Saturday, July 11, 2020. Following the guidance and requirements of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for cultural attractions and museums, the Oregon Historical Society has implemented important health and safety enhancements for staff and visitors; visitors are encouraged to visit ohs.org/reopening ahead of their visit to read about safety protocols, from required facial coverings to one-way pathways to increased hand sanitizer stations.
(Oregon Historical Society)
“While we may not be able to cheer on our home teams in person, We are the Rose City! will give fans, both in Portland and beyond, the opportunity to celebrate the many milestones Portland soccer has marked both on and off the pitch,” said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk.
We are the Rose City! A History of Soccer in Portland will be on exhibit July 24, 2020, through April 11, 2021. The Oregon Historical Society’s museum is open five days a week, Wednesday – Saturday from 10am – 5pm and Sunday from 12pm – 5pm. Admission is $10, with discounts for students, seniors, teachers, and youth. Admission is free every day for OHS members and Multnomah County residents.
About the Oregon Historical Society
For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon’s cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.