Each year, millions of people will travel through Portland International Airport. For many of these travelers, a stop at PDX, Travel & Leisure Magazine’s Top Airport in America, will provide for them much more than a unique and enjoyable experience, it will also allow them to see for themselves, and even take a picture with one of the Rose City’s best-known celebrities, the icon known as PDX Carpet. (Even if it is an updated design.)
Only in Portland, with the city’s Keep Portland Weird culture, could an actual carpet become such. As a matter of fact, the PDX Carpet was even named Grand Marshal for the annual Rose Festival Starlight Parade in 2015.
Wrap your head around that for a second, or better yet, wrap your feet around it. A carpet served as a Grand Marshal, for a parade. Why wouldn’t people want to travel to the City of Roses? Portland is more Portlandia than Portlandia is Portland.
What Is PDX Carpet?
The PDX Carpet is essentially Portland’s welcome mat, humbly serving the Port of Portland from the early nineties to 2015 at the Portland International Airport before being replaced by a new updated version.
The carpet was famous for its teal background and unique geometric shapes that represented the intersecting north and south runways as seen by the vantage point of the air traffic controllers at night.
The PDX Carpet was designed in 1987 by SRG Architects at a time when most airports were outfitted with more earthy tones like oatmeal and beige.
The carpet also represented a departure from the loud sounds of thousands upon thousands of travelers walking along the hard-terminal floors offering instead a much homier, cozy, and comfortable approach.
When Was The PDX Carpet Replaced?
In 2013, the Port of Portland announced plans to replace the famed carpet with a new updated pattern. The announcement created a stir on social media, but by January of 2015, removal of the original carpet began.
The announcement led to the Port receiving an outpouring of comments from Portlanders concerned for the carpet’s future.
The Birth Of #PDXCarpet
Not soon after the announcement was made, locals and travelers alike began staking their claim of Portland royalty status by taking photographs of their feet standing on the carpet and posting the pictures to social media with the hashtag #pdxcarpet.
To date, there are nearly 100,000 pictures on Instagram using that hashtag and thousands more using other hashtags featuring “pdxcarpet” in them.
What Does The New PDX Carpet Look Like?
Costing $13 million, the new replacement was made up of materials from recycled carpet and plastic jars and bottles. The new pattern was designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, a Portland based firm and is said to feature both man-made and natural shapes found around the airport.
With the original PDX Carpet being set from the vantage point of air traffic controllers view of the runways intersecting at night, the new carpet is much more from the vantage point of travelers by plane looking down upon the airports surroundings.
The shapes showcase flight, nature, and structures such as the wings on the airplanes, hiking trails, leaves, runways, and waterways.
Wanting to maintain core elements of the original design, Oregon Public Broadcasting stated that the old and new carpet designs are similar in appearance “to the untrained, out-of-towner eye.”
The PDX Carpet As Nostalgia Means Business
Since the removal of the original PDX Carpet, many businesses, after seeing a sustained outpouring from the public in regards to the famed icon, have sought to cash in on it by making and selling a wide variety of products using the famous carpet design.
With just a quick search on the internet, you’ll find a myriad of PDX Carpet products from shot glasses, neck wrests, to even IPA from Oregon’s own Rogue Ales in Ashland, Oregon. But these items just scratch the surface of all things PDX Carpet.
Here is a list of ten (of many more) different products that have used the famous PDX Carpet design:
- Sunglasses from Townie Shades for those 144 days of sunshine Portland gets each year.
- Doormats made from the real PDX Carpet from The PDX Project.
- Phone Covers available at Made in Oregon stores for all those feet selfies.
- Custom Nike Elite PDX Carpet Socks. Why not? Just do it.
- Umbrella (though no true Portlander would ever use it.)
- Portland Trail Blazers Guard Damian Lillard and Adidas present PDX Carpet shoe
- Rogue Ales released its PDX Carpet IPA. Well, this is Portland, right?
- Baby’s bib because baby’s got to represent.
- Mugs for all that Stumptown Coffee brewing throughout the Rose City.
- Bike helmet for the 7.2% of commuters who go by bike in Portland.
Although Portland International Airport has a new look, we need to remember one thing, this still is Portland, and that means people still love posting their pictures to social media of their feet standing on that PDX carpet.
It’s just now, those same two feet can be outfitted with the original #pdxcarpet design while also wearing a #pdxcarpet pair of pants, shirt, hat, earrings, and sunglasses. Of course all the while enjoying that Rogue PDX Carpet IPA.
Only in Portland… only in Portland.