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Corvallis, Oregon


Corvallis, Oregon

Corvallis, Oregon
Benton County Courthouse
Benton County Courthouse
Motto: Enhancing Community Livability
Location of Corvallis within Oregon.
Location of Corvallis within Oregon.
Country United States
State  Oregon
County Benton
Founded / Incorporated 1845 / 1857
 • Mayor Julie Manning
 • City 14.30 sq mi (37.04 km2)
 • Land 14.13 sq mi (36.60 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
Elevation 235 ft (68.28 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 54,462
 • Estimate (2013)[3] 55,298
 • Density 3,854.4/sq mi (1,488.2/km2)
 • Urban 62,433 (US: 436th)
 • Metro 86,591 (US: 367th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 97330-97331, 97333, 97339
Area code(s) 541, 458
FIPS code 41-15800[4]
GNIS feature ID 1140162[5]
Website City of Corvallis

Corvallis is a city in central western Oregon, United States. It is the county seat of Benton County[6] and the principal city of the Corvallis, Oregon Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Benton County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 54,462.[7] Its population was estimated by the Portland Research Center to be 55,298 in 2013.[3] Corvallis is the location of Oregon State University and of a large Hewlett-Packard research campus.

Downtown circa 1920

At a longitude of 123 degrees west and 17 minutes, the city is the westernmost city in the lower 48 states with a population larger than 50,000.


In 1845, Joseph C. Avery settled a land claim at the mouth of Marys River where it flows into the Willamette River.[8] In 1849, Avery opened a store at the site, platted the land, and surveyed a town site on his land claim, naming the community Marysville.[8] It is possible that the city was named after early settler Mary Lloyd, but now the name is thought to be derived from French fur trappers' naming of Marys Peak after the Virgin Mary.[9]

In 1853, the legislative assembly changed the city's name to Corvallis, from the Latin phrase cor vallis, meaning "heart of the valley." Corvallis was incorporated as a city on January 29, 1857.[10] The town served briefly as the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1855 before Salem was eventually selected as the permanent seat of state government.[8]


Corvallis is located at an elevation of 235 feet.[11] Situated midway in the Willamette Valley, Corvallis is about 46 miles (74 km) east of Newport and the Oregon Coast, 85 miles (137 km) south of Portland, 30 miles (48 km) south of the state capital, Salem, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Albany, about 10 miles (16 km) west of Interstate 5 at its closest point, and 48 miles (77 km) north of Eugene/Springfield. Oregon Route 99W, a secondary north-south route, also runs through Corvallis. U.S. Route 20 (which leads to Newport) and Oregon Route 34 (which leads to Waldport about 56 miles (90 km) to the west) both secondary East-West routes run through Corvallis from the Oregon Coast. Corvallis is at river mile 131-132 of the Willamette River.[12]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.30 square miles (37.04 km2), of which 14.13 square miles (36.60 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water.[1]

Location of the Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon CSA and its components:
  Corvallis Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Albany-Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area


Like the rest of the Willamette Valley, Corvallis falls within the dry-summer subtropical climate zone, also referred to as cool-summer Mediterranean (Köppen Csb). Temperatures are mild year round, with warm, dry sunny summers and mild, wet winters with persistent overcast skies. Spring and fall are also moist seasons with varied cloudiness, and light rain falling for extended periods. Winter snow is rare, but occasionally does fall, and amounts can range between a dusting and a few inches that does not persist on the ground for more than a day. The northwest hills will often experience more snow. During the mid-winter months after extended periods of rain, thick persistent fogs can form, sometimes lasting the entire day. This can severely reduce visibility to as low as 20 feet (6.1 m). The fog will often persist until a new storm system enters the area. This fog could be seen as a type of tule fog.

Rainfall total within the town itself is surprisingly variable. This is due to Corvallis lying right on the eastern edge of the Oregon Coast Range, with a small portion of the town inside of the range. Rainfall amounts can range from an average of 66.40 inches (168.7 cm) per year [13] in the far northwest hills, compared to 43.66 inches (110.9 cm) per year at Oregon State University which is located in the center of Corvallis. Occasionally, rain can be seen falling in the northwest of the town, whereas it's just overcast, or even slightly sunny on the southeast portion of the town. This is due to the orographic lift of the prevailing cloud systems through the pacific northwest losing moisture and dissolving back into the air as it exits the coastal range.

Because of its close proximity to the coastal range, Corvallis can experience slightly cooler temperatures, particularly in the hills, than the rest of the Willamette Valley. The average annual low temperature is 4 degrees less than that of Portland just 85 miles (137 km) to the north. Despite this, temperatures dropping below freezing is still a rare event.

Climate data for Corvallis, Oregon (Oregon State University)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 47.0
Average low °F (°C) 33.6
Record low °F (°C) −1
Precipitation inches (mm) 6.46
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.2
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.7 18.0 18.8 16.3 12.7 7.8 3.6 3.9 7.1 12.4 20.1 20.8 161.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) .9 1.1 .2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .1 .8 3.1
Source #1: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000),[14]
Source #2: (extremes) [15]


Corvallis is the largest principal city of the Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Corvallis metropolitan area (Benton County) and the Albany-Lebanon micropolitan area (Linn County),[18][19][20] which had a combined population of 202,251 at the 2010 U.S. Census.[4]

As of the 2000 U.S. Census the median income for a household in the city was $35,437, and the median income for a family was $53,208. Males had a median income of $40,770 versus $29,390 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,317. About 9.7% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 54,462 people, 22,283 households, and 10,240 families residing in the city. The population density was 4004.5 people per square mile (1,547.2/km²). There were 23,423 housing units at an average density of 1,722.3 per square mile (665.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.8% White, 7.3% Asian, 1.1% Black or African American, 0.69% Native American, 0.33% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. 7.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[21]

There were 22,283 households of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 14.9% under the age of 18, 32.4% from 18 to 24, 22.9% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26.4 years. For every 100 males there were 98.7 females.


Corvallis lies in the middle of the Unchurched Belt. A 2003 study, released once every 10 years, listed Benton County (of which Corvallis makes up the majority of the population) as the least religious county per capita in the United States. Only 1 in 4 people indicated that they were affiliated with one of the 149 religious groups the study identified. The study indicated that some of the disparity, however, may be attributed to the popularity of less common religions (ones not included as an option in the study) in the Pacific Northwest.[22]


The campus of Oregon State University, which is the major local employer, is located near the edge of the main downtown area. Other major employers include Samaritan Health Services,[23] AVI BioPharma,[24] CH2M HILL,[25] SIGA Technologies,[26] Evanite Fiber,[27] ONAMI,[28] and Hewlett-Packard, whose printer cartridge manufacturing and prototyping facility is located in the northeast area of town. Because of this relative concentration of employment and the need for diversity, the city launched a website to attract creative industry to the region by branding it with the slogan "Business is Good Here".[29]

The National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Corvallis is a gene bank of the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. The gene bank preserves temperate fruit, nut, and agronomic crops from around the world.[30]

Corvallis, Oregon was ranked #48[31] on the 100 best places in the USA to live and launch a business by Fortune Small Business 2008.[32] This places Corvallis as the second best place in Oregon to launch a business, after Portland (#6). Bend (#87) and Eugene (#96) were other Oregon localities ranked in the top 100.


Helen Berg served as mayor of Corvallis for three terms from 1994 until 2006. She holds the distinction of being the first female mayor of Corvallis, as well as the longest-serving mayor of the city to date.[33] Two members of the Corvallis city council are members of the Green Party.[34] The current mayor is Julie Manning.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

  • Da Vinci Days festival and the annual kinetic sculpture race.[35]
  • Corvallis Fall Festival Annual Arts Party in Central Park. Founded in 1972, with the 39th occurrence in 2011.[36]

Museums and other points of interest

Art galleries


As the home of Oregon State University, Corvallis is the home for 17 NCAA Division I OSU teams (7 men's, 10 women's) in the Pac-12. Corvallis is also the home of the Corvallis Knights baseball team, who play in summer at OSU's Goss Stadium. The Knights play in the West Coast League, an independent summer baseball league with teams from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

Parks and recreation

Corvallis is recognized as a Tree City USA. The city has at least 47 public parks within and adjacent to the city limits. Some of them are[44]

  • Alan Berg Park and the associated Orleans Natural Area, located east of the Willamette River and south of highway 34
  • Arnold Park, located at NW Harrison Blvd and NW Merrie Dr.
  • Avery Park, located at SW 15th and SW Avery Park Dr.
  • Bald Hill Park, located off NW Oak Creek Dr. (behind the Benton County Fairgrounds)
  • Bruce Starker Arts Park & Amphitheater, located on SW 45th St. off SW Country Club Dr.
  • BMX Track Park, located at Highway 99W and SE Chapman Place
  • Central Park, located at SW 6th and NW Monroe Ave.
  • Chepenefa Springs Park, located at the end of NW Daylily Ave. (behind Timberhill Athletic Club)
  • Chintimini Park, located at NW 27th St. and NW Tyler Ave.
  • Chip Ross Park, located at the end of NW Lester Ave.
  • Cloverland Park, located at NW 29th Street and NW Garfield Ave.
  • Crystal Lakes Sports Fields & Kendall Natural Area, located at the end of Fisher Lane off SE Crystal Lake Dr.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, located off NW Walnut Blvd. near NW Maser Dr.
  • Eric Scott McKinley Skate Park, located at SW 1st St. and SW B Ave. under Oregon Highway 20/34 underpass
  • Crystal Lakes Sports Fields & Kendall Natural Area located at the end of Fisher Lane off SE Crystal Lake Dr.
  • Forest Dell Park located at NW Highland Dr. and NW Highland Dell Dr.
  • Franklin Square Park, located at NW 15th St. and NW Taylor Ave.
  • Garfield Park, located at NW 11th St. and NW Cleveland Ave.
  • Riverfront Commemorative Park, located downtown on the Willamette River
  • Village Green Park, located south of NE Conifer Blvd. at NE Dorchester Way
  • Woodland Meadow Park, including the Corl House, located off NW Circle Dr. at NW Witham Hill Dr.


The OSU campus and Cascade Range from Fitton Green

Corvallis has a higher education rate per capita than any other city in the State of Oregon.[45]

Public schools in the city are administered by the Corvallis School District. Corvallis is also the home of Oregon State University, and the Benton Center campus for Linn-Benton Community College.


Corvallis is part of the Eugene radio and television market.




Long-distance bus service is provided by Greyhound. It stops at the Greyhound station in downtown Corvallis (station ID: CVI.)

Local bus service is provided by Corvallis Transit System (CTS). In 2011, voters approved an additional fee on monthly water bills allowing all bus service to become fareless. The system runs a total of eight daytime routes Monday through Saturday, covering most of the city and converging at a Downtown Transit Center. Additional commuter routes also run in the early morning and late afternoon on weekdays, and mid-morning and mid-afternoon on Saturdays. When Oregon State University is in session CTS also runs the "Beaver Bus," a set of late-night routes running Thursday through Saturday.

Two other short-distance inter-city buses, the Linn-Benton Loop (to Albany) and the Philomath Connection, also stop at the Downtown Transit Center.

From 2010 to 2011, CTS has seen a 37.87% increase in ridership, partially as a result of going fareless and "the rising cost of fuel for individual vehicles and the desire for residents to choose more sustainable options for commuting to work, school and other activities"[47] According to Tim Bates the Corvallis Transit System and Philomath Connection, had 3,621,387 passenger miles traveled and 85,647 gallons of fuel consumed in Fiscal Year 2011, a period that covers July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011. This means that riders in Fiscal Year 2011 got 42.28 passenger miles per gallon.


The League of American Bicyclists gave Corvallis a gold rating as a Bicycle-Friendly Community in 2011.[48] Also in 2011, the United States Census Bureau released data from the 2009 American Community Survey showing that, at 9.3%, Corvallis had the highest percentage of bicycle commuters of any city in the United States.[49]


Corvallis Municipal Airport serves private and corporate aircraft. The closest commercial air service is available at Eugene Airport (35 miles) or Portland International Airport (95 miles).




The city's water system contains two water treatment plants, nine processed water reservoirs, one raw water reservoir, and some 210 miles (340 km) of pipe. The system can process up to about 19 million US gallons (72,000 m3) of water per day.[50]

The Rock Creek treatment plant processes water from sources in the 10,000-acre (40 km2) Rock Creek Municipal Watershed near Marys Peak. The three sources are surface streams which are all tributaries of the Marys River. Rock Creek has a processing capacity of 7 million US gallons (26,000 m3) of water per day (gpd), though operational characteristics of the 9-mile (14 km), 20-inch (51 cm) pipeline to the city limits capacity to half that.[51] The Rock Creek Plant output remains steady year round at about 3 million gpd.[50]

The H.D. Taylor treatment plant obtains water from the Willamette River, and has been expanded at least four times since it was first constructed in 1949. Its output varies seasonally according to demand, producing from 2 to 16 million US gallons (61,000 m3) per day,[50] though it has a capacity of 21 million gpd.[51]

The total reservoir capacity is 21 million US gallons (79,000 m3),[52] though measures to voluntarily reduce water usage begin when reservoir levels fall below 90% of capacity, and become mandatory at 80% or below.[53] As part of its ongoing water conservation program, the water department jointly publishes a guide to water-efficient garden plants.[54]

Green power

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency report on its “green power communities,” Corvallis is among the top cities in the nation in terms of buying electricity produced from renewable resources. Corvallis purchases more than 126 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which amounts to 21 percent of the city’s total purchased electricity.[55][56]

Fire Department

As of 2012 the Corvallis Fire Department is headed by Chief Roy Emery and currently has 6 fire stations.[57]

Notable people

This list excludes persons whose only connection to Corvallis is attendance or employment at Oregon State University.

Rankings and recognition

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Corvallis is regularly ranked and recognized.

  • 1994: OSU named "Safest Pac-10 Campus" (University of Southern California study)[60]
  • 1995: Corvallis named "One of the 13 best towns to be a vegetarian" (Vegan Magazine study)[61]
  • 1996: An article in Parade magazine rated Corvallis as "One of the 10 best cities in which to live."[61]
  • 2000: Corvallis School District named one of the top public school systems in the country (Offspring Magazine)[61]
  • 2002: Corvallis-Benton County Public Library named one of top ten libraries in the country based on population size (Hennen's American Public Library Ratings)[62]
  • 2002: Corvallis ranked fourth in nation for the highest number of patents issued by city (USA Today)[45]
  • 2002: Corvallis ranked 7th out of about 500 U.S. cities for best places to do business (BizDemographics)[61]
  • 2002: The Bicycle Transportation Alliance ranked Corvallis as Oregon's most bicycle-friendly city.[61]
  • 2002: The Orange County Register picked Corvallis' Oregon State University as the "Best Pac-10 Campus" (2002).[61]
  • 2002, 2003: The National Arbor Day Foundation awarded Corvallis a Tree City USA Award.,[45][63]
  • 2003: Bike USA listed Corvallis as the 9th most bicycle-friendly city in the nation.[45]
  • 2003: The League of American Bicyclists gave Corvallis a gold "Bicycle-Friendly Community" designation in May 2003, one of only four such cities in the nation as of 2006.[64]
  • 2003: Men's Journal ranked Corvallis as "The 8th best place in the nation to live" in 2003.[65]
  • 2004: Frommer's Travel Guides, Cities Ranked & Rated ranked Corvallis as the 10th best city of any size in the United States and Canada.[66]
  • 2004: The February 2004 issue of the Harvard Business Review ranked Corvallis as the 15th most creative city in the nation.[65]
  • 2005: Bike at Work listed Corvallis as the 9th best city in the nation "As a car free community" (2005).[45]
  • 2005: In April 2005, Men's Journal ranked Corvallis as "The 7th best place in the nation to live" (Corvallis was previously 8th in 2003).[61]
  • 2005: Expansion Management selected Corvallis as a "Five-Star Knowledge Worker Metro", the highest rating achievable.[67]
  • 2006: A survey by the National Science Foundation found Corvallis ranks second in the nation for the number of scientists as a percentage of total employment (12.7 percent) as of 2006.[68]
  • 2006: Corvallis was the first city on the West Coast and only the third city in the nation to receive the "Green Power Community" designation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[69]
  • 2006: The [70]
  • 2006: Corvallis was ranked in the top 10 by Economist Richard Florida for the Most Creative Places to live with less than 250,000 people.[71]
  • 2006: Cities Ranked and Rated ranks Corvallis as the 10th Best Place to Live in the United States.[71]
  • 2007: In a 2007 report, Farmers Insurance Group ranked Corvallis as the "most secure" small city in America, based on (as reported by Insurance Journal magazine) crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, environmental hazards, terrorism threats, air quality, life expectancy and job loss numbers.[72]
  • 2007: Yahoo! Real Estate named Corvallis as one of their 10 best places to live.[71]
  • 2007: Moody's ranked Corvallis 3rd in the United States Business Vitality Index.[71]
  • 2008: On February 18, 2008, Corvallis was named the fifth smartest city in America by Forbes Online Magazine.[73]
  • 2008: A September 2008 report revealed that Benton County, of which Corvallis makes up the majority of the population, is ranked 5th for longest life expectancy at birth of all counties in the United States, at 80.93 years.[74]
  • 2008: Corvallis is ranked among the top 20 towns to live in by Outside magazine.[71]
  • 2008: Country Home magazine ranked Corvallis the best Green Place to Live in America.[71]
  • 2008, 2009: Farmers Insurance Group of Companies ranked Corvallis the #1 Most Secure Place to Live.[71]
  • 2009: In 2009, Corvallis High School won $20,000 in sustainability contest "America's Most Eco-Friendly School".[75]
  • 2009: The United States Environmental Protection Agency ranked Corvallis as #1 Green Power Community in the nation, defined by the amount of green energy purchased per capita.[71]
  • 2009: In September 2009, the American Institute for Economic Research ranked Corvallis as the 7th best college town under 250,000 people in their annual College Destinations Index.[76]
  • 2011: In April 2011, the New York Times named Corvallis as the American city with the lowest risk of natural disaster.[77]
  • 2014: In October 2014, Business Insider ranked Corvallis #3 in its list of best college towns in the United States.[78]
  • 2014: In November 2014, the business website 24/7 Wall St.[79] ranked Corvallis as the third-most educated city in the U.S.[80]
  • 2014: In November 2014, the Census Bureau ranked Corvallis #1 in the percentage of residents with a high-speed Internet connection.[81]

Notable works of fiction

  • Corvallis plays a major role in The Postman, in which it is depicted as the center of rebuilding civilization in post-apocalyptic Oregon, due to the university, logistics, and favorable wind patterns, which render it capable of surviving nuclear war.
  • Corvallis plays a major role in S. M. Stirling's "Emberverse" series. It's one of the few cities to come through the Change with many survivors, and with some sort of governing infrastructure remaining from the old world. The town's name is used in the title of the third book, A Meeting at Corvallis
  • Corvallis was the inspiration for "Cascadia" in the Bernard Malamud novel, A New Life

Sister cities

Corvallis has three sister cities,[82] as designated by Sister Cities International:


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  82. ^ Corvallis Sister Cities Association

Further reading

  • Benton County Citizens' League, Benton County, Oregon, illustrated: Published under Direction of the Benton County Citizens' League. n.c.: n.p., 1904.
  • Benton County Historical Society and Museum, A Pictorial History of Benton County. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis Gazette-Times, 2000.
  • Tim Chandler, Street Politics and Bobby Packwood: A Participant's Memoir of the Corvallis, Oregon, Anti-Packwood Demonstration of January 27, 1993. Corvallis, OR: 1000 Flowers Publishing, 2003.
  • Downtown Corvallis Association, "Downtown Corvallis Association Membership Application (1979)," Corvallis, OR: Downtown Corvallis Association, 1979. —Includes short history of origins and purposes.
  • Oregon State College, Outline History of Oregon State College. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State College, 1950.
  • David A Pinyerd, Bernadette Niederer, and Tony Vandermeer, A History of Corvallis High School. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis School District 509J, 2005.
  • M. Boyd Wilcox, Two to Four O'clock at The Beanery : A Journal of Observations, Analyses, Interviews, and Commentary Regarding a First-Rate "Third Place" in Downtown Corvallis, Oregon. Corvallis, OR: n.p., 2012.

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