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Why not remove the "Made In" from the sign and have it just say "Oregon"?

This way it wont be as direct about U of O but obviously placed above a U of O building most people will know what the "Oregon" in the sign stands for.


Current sign code took effect in 1998, so the fact that it was changed in 1995 is irrelevant. Rooftop signs are prohibited in Portland, but those existing prior to the current code are grandfathered in. However, as I understand the code, these signs may be maintained, or updated for structural requirements, but the original design may not be modified.

But of course, who knows what UO's slap-happy branding department can't do with Uncle Phil's pull. (requisite beaver snark.)

Charlie Brown

Why not remove all the verbiage from the sign and just place the 'O' symbol in there.

Brian Libby

That's pretty funny, Charlie. As a Ducks fan I of course think it's a great idea. But as I'm sure you know, that's not an accurate characterization of how UO is approaching this. They're not being as insensitive as that joke suggests.


C'mon. The University provided the catalyst for the neighborhood. You'd think a self-proclaimed planning guru like Ethan Seltzer would understand that. If it weren't for UO in Old Town, there would be no Mercy Corp, no OCOM, and perhaps no Uwajimaya. Portland State has a phenomenal reputation for Urban Planning. I agree with Brian that they don't need to be soon fragile.


This is a simple free speech issue:

- The content of the speech can change(the words or message).
- The style (font and layout) can be regulated by the sign code, historic preservation laws, design overlay, etc.

So the UofO can change it to University of Oregon as long as they utilize a similar style of font. Sorry Brian, this would eliminate the possiblity of just the "O" logo.


'Made in Oregon' is a broader meme that more people can resonate with as they see it over the bridge.

It just feels classier.

If it simply must be changed, I'd actually prefer no text at all!


Maybe they can change the deer to a duck too. I mean, "University of Oregon" lettering with a deer mascot would be very confusing.

Peter S.

I have to give the PSU folks credit. I try to weigh both sides of any argument out of fairness (especially having graduated not just from U of O but the Portland program), but they just made it incredibly easy to discount their position.

If either of them had decided to speak in anything other than hyperbole I might, might think they were thinking of the city rather than sniping at a despised rival. As it is, their words and tone work well to turn what might be a real debate position into a weak straw man. U of O ought to send the two of them a fruit basket.

I'd have been happy with the sign either as is or as proposed, but either way it's the business of the building tenants & owners and the appropriate city agencies. Now I really want to see the change, if only to bother Seltzer & Fisher. (Not that I'm proud of that, but they do motivate.)

I love the Huxtable quote (which is fantastic and for me cuts to the heart of the debate about Yeon's Portland Visitors Information Center).

The sign has been robust enough to undergo multiple changes. What, assuming the new design passes legal muster, has changed? To return to the Yeon building, this is akin to arguing the only appropriate use for the PVIC is as a waterfront restaurant. The position is ahistoricism masquerading as preservationism and succeeds only in making PSU look both petty and addle-pated.

But I am biased.

As a side note, while 65-38 was awfully fun for this Duck fan, I'd like to have seen the Ducks take on the Beavers with Quizz.


As long as it meets code and style requirements, I don't see anything wrong with the University of Oregon (which has had a Portland presence since 1884) putting a sign that says "University of Oregon" on a University of Oregon building. Failing that, how about "Portland, Oregon"? Just in case someone took a wrong turn and isn't sure where they are.

I love what PSU is doing to become a true urban university, but I fail to see how putting a sign on another university's building a mile away has any effect at all on PSU. I know there's a history here, but this response takes oversensitivity to new levels. It all seems very silly.
Not that it really should matter to all this discussion, but the UO's investment in Old Town is the best thing to happen there in years, and it looks like it's catalyzing a much needed development there.


Oh, and Peter, I'd have loved to see the UO take on OSU last year with Dennis Dixon or Nic Costa rather than our fifth string QB. I guess these things even out. let's hope for two healthy squads next year.


'Ethan what have they put in your seltser' , ha ha , brilliant stuff B... PSU and everyone else needs to get over itself. U of O has
done a fine job of restoring a
great bit of Portland's heritage ,
and should put any dang thing they want on the sign , that's what signs are , Identifiers !
oh yea , 65-30-something yuk yuk

John Russell

To be honest, I think 'University of Oregon' all crammed in there wouldn't look very good at all. 'Univ. of Oregon' would seem a bit more sensibly sized. Even just a 'U of O' might be cool.

Then again, I have no problem with the way it is now, and I think a simple 'Portland, Oregon' would look pretty sharp as well.


As a recent graduate of the U of O Portland Program and a current employee in the architecture firm located in the building I think changing the sign would be great! Keep the look and change the text.

In the future, if the building changes tenants and the sign gets updated again, people will get all sentimental about it too. We will be having the same conversation all over again. People just have a hard time with change.


I guess I finally don't care so much what happens with how the sign reads. When it changed from 'White Stag' to 'Made in Oregon', I thought about it and had some misgivings that the sign was transitioning from basic nostalgia/history to private commercial purposes again.

I mean really...the city should wake up in regards to the potential function of this sign. It's arguably one of the most visible, most renowned advertising locations in the city. Very serious consideration should be made before giving the use of it to whatever new operation happens to come along.

By the way...anybody know whose currently paying utilities and maintenance for the upkeep of this sign, and whether they that have the right to advertise on it will assume that responsibility? Last time this issue came up, I remember the expenses were substantial, and in fact, that there was some question about the signs future being secure because of them. There may no longer be doubt about the sign continuing on now, but whoever gets to advertise should be paying the bills.


portland state will always be portland state and the UNIVERSITY OF OREGON will always be the UNIVERSITY OF OREGON - until the vikings can beat the DUCKS, i think they will always play second fiddle.

Brian Libby

Is it possible to agree with that but almost only on sports terms?


Daily Journal of Commerce just has a story today that indicates U of O now pays the costs for O&M.


Seems pretty straightforward, so long as the relevant approvals happen. PSU erred by weighing in on this at all.

There should be little nostalgia for "Made in" as it means nothing tangible or conveys no real value. My personal views mean nothing, but if we're looking for an iconic, community asset kind of thing, then we should be asking folks like Weiden+Kennedy or Ziba to consider the potential, and then invest in it, rather than enable this sort of scolding of U of O for their intentions. They deserve credit for investing in this block.


You sports nuts shouldn't even be commenting. Your team preference is totally irrelevant and makes your opinions lose creditability. That sign has become a Portland landmark and whatever it's past significance, it now means more than it did, even 13 years ago. Never forget the 7up sign being replaced with that evil Budwizer sign. Pew. I am forever bitter about that one.

Brian Libby

I wish I could disagree with this last comment by 'rach' more than I do.

David Benson

I agree about the weaknesses of the criticisms of the proposed change to the "Made in Oregon" sign that appeared in this morning's O., but the crux of the dispute isn't legal or design. It's civic. It's about the identification of a city with its preeminent university and vice verse. For Duck supporters. I think it's easier to imagine the PSU sentiment if you reverse the sitution:

Portland State has bought, refurbished and occupied a formerly derelict warehouse in downtown Eugene on which stands the most famous neon sign in the city. The sign used to advertise for a company that years ago abandoned the building. PSU wants to substitute its name for that of the company. How would the U of O and its supporters respond? How would the city of Eugene respond? With considerably more heat than light, I suspect.

It's easier to be cool and rational when the goring is to someone else's bull. I should add, that although I'm a Portland resident, I have not attended any of the state universities in Oregon, nor have my children.


i second J's comment. simply "Oregon" would serve both the school and the community. It would be much more iconic and special than the current plan. plus "University of Oregon" is aesthetically too many letters on that sign.

i see "Oregon" as a win win.

Brian Libby

Thanks everybody for commenting. One thought: How about a compromise that says "Portland Oregon". "Made in Oregon" is outdated. It's a store no longer there. "University of Oregon" may be ever so slightly crass, despite the fact that they field the greatest college football program in the history of the universe. Can't we find some kind of compromise here?


Most famous neon sign in the STATE.


Just for the record, I think Mr. Seltzer, in calling this campus a Potemkin University, was saying that it was a university without a university, just as Potemkin's villages were villages without villages (the phrase is never used nowadays to refer to options two/three, unless someone is actually talking about the movie/revolution). And you know what? He's right. Putting a big sign saying University of Oregon right there would probably lead some to believe that the University of Oregon is, well, right there. And you know what? It's not!
OK, a small part of it is. It's true. But man, something about having 'University of Oregon' blaring out over the skyline of Portland smells bad. Know what I mean? Regardless of what that sign has said or not said, it has always been a very Portland icon. I think U of O should do some demurring in its expansion. Welcome to Portland, thanks for what you've done for us, and thanks for appreciating what being here (instead of Eugene) will do for you - but don't push it. That's our sign, not yours.


I'm a Duck from both the Eugene and Portland campus but not from Oregon (although lived there for 8 years). As someone who has driven by the sign over the last 2 decades I always assumed "Made in Oregon" was just a statement of pride and my hunch is that is true for most people, particularly if you're not aware of the store (are all the shops now defunct?). While I love the Ducks and am happy the school renovated this structure, I think it should stay as is. It's a civic thing. I must agree with matthew that seeing "'University of Oregon' blaring over the skyline" is very unappealing.

Apologies for the spelling errors - apparently it's a bad day for me :)


It sounds like everyone on this blog is solving an analog problem in a digital world. Build a sign that can say more one thing and then hold monthly contests to change the text.



On the surface I like this idea, but how difficult would that be in the iconic neon tube?

Regardless of what the text ends up being in neon, I think changing it to one of those digital moving bilboards would cause a lot more uproar.


David Benson:
Your analogy falls apart when you consider:
A) The U of O has had a presence in Portland for over 100 years(as previously posted).
B) The U of O is not staking University of "Eugene" on the building, it's University of "Oregon". Portland is in Oregon after all.

Now can we at least agree to get rid of all the "Seattle's Best" signs in Portland?


figure I wanted to way in on this one as well, though we all dont really have much say in the matter.

I think the current reading of the sign no longer stands for the store, it stands for the idea of what it means to be a Portlander. We are a very locally minded city and I think it is fair to say that is what the sign means to many Portlanders today.

That said, they could easily have the lettering in the sign simply say "Old Town, Portland" or any combination like that, which would be a true reflection of its location...but I think would lose context for the city as a whole in that case.

That holds true with the sign reading "University of Oregon." Then the sign reflects a college and not an idea of the city.

So yes, I do think it is a bad idea to change the sign, but that doesnt mean they shouldnt. It is their building and they have done a tremendous thing for locating in Old Town and could pave the way for that area's redevelopment. I just think making the change will take away something that everyone in this city currently relates to.

Oh and great and very true comment from Brad, once the past is gone, we can never fake it....unless you fake it Williamburg or Warsaw style and rebuild everything the exact way it was built before, using the same had made materials that were once used...then you can rebuild the past.


Matthew, excellent reading of the situation. I'll go with that.

There was a pretty good letter to the editor in the O tonight too...; Guy commenting in regards to the recent editorial by a U of O prof about president Dave Frohnmayer's fairly salarly increase from 400,000 to 700,000+, while the prof doesn't have enough desks to seat his students. And then here in our town, in a similar vein, there's the U of O again, throwing around money to get their ego up on Portland's, or the STATE's, as DE kindly reminds us...most famous sign. Maybe the money should go to getting those kids some desks instead, or towards a fund that would make it easier for students to afford an education.


This is the closest thing to a "space needle" we have, why can't the city buy the thing and change it to read Portland Oregon? God forbid in twenty more years we end up with "Wall mart Oregon".


thank you Matthew for bringing this conversation back around to where Brian started some of his commentary - that is, concerning the Potemkin University nature of the U of O building (not campus). There is nothing scathing about Mr. Seltzer's original comment. U of O has artfully restored a building in old town. Yes, it has and will continue to be a much needed catalytic provider for the neighborhood, but at the end of the day it is nothing more than a singular building. It is not the location of the University of Oregon as might be implied by having the sign read such. (U of O's campus in Eugene contains over 60 significant buildings.) That being said, as much as this is a piece of Portland history, it is now their sign and they can do with it what they will. I remember the uproar that occurred last time we went through this process, and now most people living in Portland don't even know it read anything else. Personally I wish the U of O had a more generic attitude towards this little piece of history (maybe simply Oregon, with the "O" being done in standard U of O style).

On a side note, don't we think we have little enough architectural 'cricism' within Portland? Watering down this kind of discussion with Sport references, "65-38" commentary, and stylized laugh tracks takes something away from the validity of the conversation. I wonder if Huxtable's article had a couple Columbia University v. NYU baseketball comments?

Brian Libby

Matt, you make a reasonable point but I'm disappointed to read your comments. My position is that blogging is different from journalistic criticism. If you go to http://www.brianlibby.com/visual.htm, you can find over 50 reviews I've written over the last couple years for The Oregonian that do not have any wisecracks or sports references. I believe a blog is a more casual and conversational forum where I and others are free to combine wisecracks with serious discussion.

If you'd like, I could remove the "65-38" reference to the Oregon-Oregon State football game and speak more specifically about how the White Stag relates to a tradition of the earliest human settlements found in Jericho dating to 8000 BC or how the neon red nose Rudolf might have been addressed in Venetian architect Andrea Palladio's 'Four Books of Architecture'. One also might inquire how the neon sign relates to the Beaux-Arts eclecticism epitomized by Charles Garnier's Paris Opera.

But if Ada Louise Huxtable were a little younger and had a blog, I'll bet she'd occasionally find time to mention the Yankees or Knicks.

A blog is an ongoing conversation. The way I've carried out Portland Architecture, that conversation is intended to be flexible enough to include both serious debate and frivolous fun. In my experience, that's how human beings converse with one another.

I also have found that when criticism is too serious or stuffy all the time, it tends to bore people. We already have a difficult enough time getting the public to think about and support architecture. I think a little fun is a way to make it accessible.

Go architecture! Go Ducks! Go Blazers! Herzog & de Meuron rule!


When I was doing a lot of traveling between Portland and Eugene and Portland and Seattle, this sign ALWAYS welcomed me home. As a U of O grad, albeit not a big football fan, I am in favor of the sign saying something less divisive, such as "Portland, Oregon".

I think the PSU-UO rivalry is volatile and real and has a lot more to do with two competing design schools being funded by the state than athletics!

Eric Cantona

anyone that's been involved in this community for a long time knows that PSU suffers from a chronic inferiority complex in relation to UofO and OSU. mostly UofO due to some similar degree programs. the outrage from the school and, more pointedly, the architecture program is rooted in this. right or wrong, there is a lot of history there.

UofO has long been the bully in this exchange, and the proposed altering of the sign is in no small part a continuation of that notion. the Phil Knight references upstream are misguided but do parallel some of the past social and financial inequities between the programs and schools.

as a graduate of the winning civil war side i am comfortable with the change. i can, however, see some validity to the counterpoints. not enough to change my opinion, though.

i would propose one other option: as one or two others mentioned maybe just change the sign to read 'Oregon'. the difference i suggest would be to eliminate the 'Made in Oregon' script and replace it with the standard 'Oregon' in the current UofO font. would that be enough?

bottom line: the public has no real voice in this process. if the UofO want to continue to play the bully it's entirely within their rights. personally i'd like to see them operate with a wee bit more sensitivity and subtlety, but i wont hold my breath...

65-38. hah! still makes me all warm inside.


Sorry Eric, changing the historic font has been out of the question from the get-go.


I want to second Matthew's comments and especially his point about Ethan Seltzers reference to Potemkin. Most of the comments here have merely echo a rivalry among the state universities that is totally unproductive and a consequence of a deeply flawed approach to funding secondary education in this state. This debate over the sign is just a reflection of how petty struggles—over sports teams as a proxy for universities???— overshadow important issues. Portland State is the largest university in the state, it has made a serious contribution to improving the quality of life in Portland and for a large iconic sign to welcome people to this city as if identified with U of O is completely inappropriate.


Regarding the comments that it is a single building and not a campus, I'd point out that it is at least three separate buildings. How many do they need to make a campus?


I think they should put it back to 'White Stag', call it a historical landmark and leave it alone. Beyond that, 'Portland Oregon' works or 'Welcome to Oregon'.


it may be three separate buildings, but it is all still on one block and has been renovated to feel and act like one building. I think what the reference was for, if they would have at least a few blocks in Old Town, including using some of the parking lots so that the student activity isnt all just locked up inside one building.

Lets say, UofO did something along the lines of the UW Tacoma campus, then it would make sense to change the sign to identify with the campus, but to change the sign simply to say we are in this one building in Old Town is misleading. It would seems as if they were saying they were a campus in Old Town, which they are not yet...and I do stress yet because I do not know the extent of their plans in the area.

And while UofO has always had a presence here, it is easy to say it has been a very small and discreet presence for a long time, and this move is coming off as something allowing the college to brag about what they can do.

It would be just as simple to add their name and even have it lit on the side of the White Stag building facing the Williamette. To me, that would be a much more sensitive move for UofO.

Again, we all know they can do whatever they want with the sign as long as it stays in the legal limits, but I think the act of changing this sign in this manner is a very selfish act for the college.


John, (as I posted earlier) even if it was deemed a historic landmark the state cannot regulate free-speech. In this instance the content of the message is considered speech.

Sorry for the numberous short posts. I have been riveted to this conversation!

Eric Cantona

i believe john should want it to say 'White Satin'. which points out the ridiculousness of his statement.

ellen - yes PSU has the most students, but by several other measurements it would not be considered 'the biggest'. and does size really matter? about the schools, mind.


Size matters when the funding formula is supposedly calculated on a per student basis -- by which account PSU by teaching the most students should get the most funding. But that formula is trumped by political calculations that redirect funding to underperforming schools (i.e. those losing students). So PSU gets penalized (financially) for attracting more and more students. Portland should be proud of and trumpet its identification with PSU, and city leaders should not perpetrate silly rivalries but build partnerships.


Well said matthew. If UO wants to make some real investments in Portland they have a ways to go. For the moment, they are just the rich kid from the suburbs wearing a lot of shiny bling.

They may have a right to wear and show off that bling, but it shows a little less class than what you would expect.

PS. Everyone, please keep the sports references out. They have no bearing on reality.

Eric Cantona

Ellen: so your argument is that PSU has been shafted by the state, so UofO has no rights here? so, UofO hasn't made contributions to the city or state? by what formula do you measure that, and when does a university pass the threshold to be able to advertise its existence here?

certainly the city should 'trumpet its identification with PSU', and the school should feel free to promote its presence in bright lights, if they choose. if they do, will you rush to the defense of PCC? or L&C? we could play this game all day, but in the end it still comes down to codes and laws and ownership.

PS: chris is a sportaphobe.

up the red devils!


but the discussion is about meaning and taste and aesthetics, not codes and laws and ownership.

Eric Cantona

"but the discussion is about meaning and taste and aesthetics, not codes and laws and ownership."

that's a rather arrogant assumption, unless you have an official 'blog police' badge, sir.


In response to your question "does size matter" my answer was "yes" and I explained why. At a time of scarce resources our collective civic efforts would be better spent building partnerships not fueling rivalries through civic design---leave those to the athletics field. To say "in the end it still comes down to codes and laws and ownership" is disingenuous. That would defer all civic design decisions to politicians, lawyers and developers.


I am a UO student at the PDX campus and believe I understand the nature of the dispute between UO and PSU. I don't take the "Potemkin" comment as without some basis. I take it to reflect a sentiment that UO is annexing space in the political landscape of PDX while most of the core curricula and resources remain in Eugene.

Regardless, UO doesn't own the White Stag building and is only a tenant. I like the sign just the way it is. It is enough of a landmark that anyone can find it. To me it represents history and context which I would be offended to loose were it to be rebranded by UO.

Eric Cantona

Ellen - and you sidestepped my question.

quite frankly i don't really care, though, as i'm getting sucked into an argument that i don't have the time or desire to have.

i will say this and move on: the anti-change folks here are up in arms over the change to an piece of ADVERTISING, under private ownership, that has changed several times during its existence, and that meets (apparently) all the applicable jurisdictional requirements.


it's hard to argue that, indeed, for the most part, blogs are in a completely different realm than journalistic critism. My dilemna here is that I would submit that this blog is one of the more widely read architectural writing venues for the work that is being done within the city of Portland (at least by practicing, or those studying to practice, architects, designers, ...). I have always enjoyed the tid-bits associated with your writings (odd visual references and what not), and brining a lighter side to your observations. My comment was to the 'who cares if U of O [my alma mater] embarassed OSU handily this year'? What does that have to do with the discussion at hand?
Enough about blogs and what the intent is or isn't. Another discussion for another day, I guess.
My thoughts on the sign have changed - I proposed we change the White Stag to read IKEA. Hell, they got way with probably Portland's biggest sign out by the airport. They might want an even bigger and bluer sign downtown, with a Stag on it to boot.


eric cantona,

i'm not policing the blog, i'm just saying that ownership and codes are not being disputed - they are givens. u of o's motives and choices are being discussed, and this is why it is an interesting conversation, otherwise we would just read the sign code and their lease agreement and be done with it.

thank you, sir.


That sign means "Portland, Oregon". The city should embrace it for the landmark that it is and utilize it for the tourism beacon it wants to be.


if I had a vote Id say OREGON or PORTLAND OREGON would be the perfect compromise...

Im in accord with those that have said University of Oregon would be a bit over the top....


I am so sad to read about this potential sign change. I moved away three years ago from Portland, and was not a native. I took the Burnside Bridge in to work practically every day, and that sign was magical to me. It gave me warm fuzzies every time I looked up at it.

I never thought of 'MADE IN OREGON" as an ad for the store. I really felt it referred to all of us. It referred to the culture, the zeitgeist was was culminated there. (I was always confused as to why the White Stag was on the sign, but I loved it anyway.) It's a city landmark, a staple, and while it has been changed in the past, I feel that now that it has become such a symbol that it should remain untouched.

I guess I am attached to it in its current form because that is all I know. But to change it for U of O and then the next tenant.. and then the next? Big mistake. It will lose all of its relevance as the gateway sign and symbol it has become.

My daughter was MADE in OREGON, but you don't see me changing her birth certificate because we've moved to another state. She will always be an Oregon girl and should remain as such. So should the sign.

Lindsay Buchele Yale

Has anyone thought about using "UO Portland"? Obviously the colors would have to change to green and yellow. It feels like killing two birds with one stone: the University gets its own name on its own building, and the city gets representation as well. I agree, however, that the deer might create mascot confusion.

On the other hand, what if "Made in Oregon" remained, but was changed to green and yellow? The current text could take on a whole new meaning, moving away from representing an Oregon retail company and moving towards representing a University that is home-grown and full of state pride.

As a duck and a marketer, I believe we can utilize what already exists and still communicate UO's contribution to Old Town/China Town.


As a recent graduate of the U of O Portland Program, and a huge Duck Fan in general, I have a very hard time with this proposal.
I was born and raised in Oregon and really have a lot of pride in that fact. I love the U of O, but I think the current sign, as new as it is (1995) still speaks to the larger majority with the "Made in Oregon" (actually being a native Oregonian puts us in the minority, go home Californians). I was Made in Oregon! I think the sign should stay as is.

However, I think the PSU arguments are as weak as they possibly could have made it be. It speaks nothing to the fact that the sign has a greater pull to everything Oregon rather than PSU. It’s really a matter of feelings getting hurt and the little brother affect that discredits the entire argument.

Finally, for completely different reason, I say leave the sign as it is.

And PSU, “You’re pretty enough, you’re smart enough, and dog gone’ it, people like you!”


I think it may be worth remembering also, that the Naito family changed the sign to 'Made in Oregon' when they took over the running costs of the sign. It's always been about advertising. It is not 'our' sign, it belongs to whom ever owns the building and as such totally SHOULD change because right now it's free advertising for the Naito's.


I think we should hold an international design competition and invite some of the boldest and brightest talent from Europe to New York to generate a bold, new idea for the sign. We could invite a nationally reknown jury of architects, graphic designers, and sign makers to select a short list of firms and then give them a stipend to create some forward thinking designs. At this point, I think this is really the only solution. PLEASE SOMEONE TELL US WHAT TO DO!


As a fitting tribute to Bill Naito's legacy, simply removing the "Made in" would fit with his habit of looking for the most economical way to say what was necessary.


I love how this sign's current wording works on so many levels. I think it's rather clever, and speaks to any past, current or future tenant of the building. It's a landmark that I see show up in photos and montages as a piece iconography for the city of Portland. I can't imagine it holding this same power with "University of Oregon" plastered up there instead.

I think its nice to see a sign for a change that isn't advertising a specific product or business (just the place I'm proud to live in). I'm a former U of O architecture graduate who studied in the urban program here in Portland; I love the subtlety and civic mindedness of the signs current wording, and I would be sad to see it change.


CarolynK it is the name of a real store that still exists - the "Made In Oregon" store owned by the Naitos. the misunderstanding of its meaning is a fortunate accident by most. unfortunately few will accidently misunderstand "University of Oregon".


Matthew correctly understands Seltzer's comment.

I a Portland Native who has spent my life watching UofO and OSU siphon the lion's share of the state's education resources, leaving PSU to fight for the scrap. I take great umbrage at UofO taking ownership of the historic sign. For the entire history of our state Portland has been the economic engine. Today I would posit that most of your blog readers would not be here without the plodding and thankless work of PSU and particularly Ethan's planning department. I wholeheartedly agree with Ethan.

UofO may be in their legal rights but to me it is just yet another slap in the face, particularly galling as it had just begun to heal.


It seems that PSU is taking this whole thing overly personally. Who knew PSU was carrying so much baggage?

UofO probably does not associate this much drama with the sign change. It is not intended as a "slap in the face" of PSU.

Waaaa, PSU is such a victim in all this!

Brad Cooley

I've read this post with interest for some time now pondering over what the White Stag sign means to me and others that call Portland home. Clearly the sign means much to many as is befitting a cultural landmark in a major city. Portland specifically and Oregon in general need more visual landmarks that all Oregonians can embrace and share.

Oddly I remember the sign from twenty plus years ago but not what it said on it. The prominent outline of the state of Oregon and the deer in stride shining bright in neon but not the words. There was some brief notion that the deer was related to some outdoor gear my grandmother had given me, a jacket lined with the deer and also a sleeping bag my parents used on camping trips. I remember thinking the building must be an outdoor store of some sort.

After living downtown recently and seeing the sign regularly, I just assumed it always read "Made In Oregon." I took comfort in this notion that others like me were "made in Oregon." Admittedly, I like the statement and would be happy to see it continue but in the back of my head I knew it did not always read this way.

I fully support the change of words on the sign. The U of O has the reason and the right to change the sign. We are not losing an icon, it is merely evolving with the times. Let's join in congratulating Oregon in reinvesting in a part of downtown that sorely needs it. I hope more public institutions will do as much to revitalize and sustain the major cities that call our Colleges and Universities home, give them all signs to proclaim to the world that they care about Oregonians' future.


i also like the broader implications of 'made in oregon.' as a UO student new to the city, i understood the sign as a civic thing, not the company. i think the double entendre has worked well over the past 13 years for many new residents with no previous history of the sign. i think the civic implication has taken on a life of it's own.

maybe there could be a compromise? perhaps only one letter could be changed...use UofO's O graphic as the capital o in oregon. it could still carry the broader message for the state, and also support the university's marketing and advertising for the program.


Nike has changed UO in complicated ways. The UO mission is now brand-centric. Learn more about it by watching six videos I posted at Utube. To watch them go to the Utube site and use the search there with keywords:nike university of oregon.


I like the "Portland, Oregon" idea . . .


Well put, Matthew. I agree the sign is an icon of Portland, Oregon. The U of O is not located in Portland. To best serve the community and the University, simply "Oregon" would satisfy both sides. However, I like the idea of Portland, Oregon to honor the city and it's history. The idea of lower case letters to the current sign..reading "made in Oregon", is witty and economical. It is witty because it loses the name brand yet, maintains the idea of Portland, the University, the building and the community as all being "made in Oregon". This implies "made" well, "made" organic, "made" green, "made" northwest..."made" all things beautiful Oregon.

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