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Marvelous welcome mat returns to Portland International Airport

Feb. 19, 2022
4 min read
Marvelous welcome mat returns to Portland International Airport
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To the delight of Rose City hipsters, frequent travelers and airport carpet fans worldwide, Portland International Airport (PDX) is bringing back the iconic green, teal and purple floor covering that launched a sea of foot-forward selfies and some marvelous carpet-patterned swag.

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(Photo courtesy of Harriet Baskas)

In a Valentine’s Day announcement, PDX officials said that when the new main terminal opens in 2024, the iconic carpet pattern will be found on flooring in the pre-security “meet and greet” areas outside the security exits and in some other surprise locations to be revealed later.

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The design that’s coming back was originally created by a local architecture firm in the late 1980s and is said to represent the night view that traffic controllers would have of the intersecting north and south runways. The artwork adorned more than 13 acres of wool carpeting installed throughout PDX airport in 1988.

That flooring stayed around for 30 years, serving as a backdrop for millions of trips and a symbol of home for locals. And even though the carpet was so threadbare in some places that maintenance crews reportedly used colored markers to cover up bare spots, in 2015 there was community-wide dismay when it was announced that the carpet would be pulled up and replaced.

New carpeting with a forest green design was put down. But the old design was far from forgotten.

The carpet was named as 2015 Grand Marshal of the Starlight Parade held during Portland’s Rose Festival.

(Photo courtesy of Port of Portland)

The design was emblazoned on souvenirs ranging from neck pillows, caps, T-shirts, bandanas and socks to beer, vodka, Moonstruck chocolate bars and chocolate carpet “poop.” Many PDX carpet-themed items can still be found for sale online, while a few might be spotted in airport shops.

(Photo courtesy of Port of Portland)

In 2017, when Alaska Airlines started service between PDX and Orlando International Airport (MCO), “PeeDee” the carpet took a flight to MCO during Spring Break.

According to PDX airport spokeswoman, Kama Simonds, there was strong support for acknowledging the community’s connection to the old carpet design by installing some of it somewhere in the new main terminal. But finding the right spot in the new space took some consideration.

“Carpet can be more challenging for rolling suitcases and wheelchairs. At the same time, it adds a cozy feel and helps with sound insulation,” says Simonds. “Ultimately, we settled on places where people would sit or stand and wait. And spaces that wouldn’t be considered very high-traffic areas.” The pre-security “meet and greet” areas fit the bill. In high traffic areas of the new main terminal, passengers will find terrazzo flooring.

(Photo courtesy of Port of Portland)

As for the retro design on the carpet, “if the original artwork is still around, it’s likely in some form of outdated technology,” says Simonds. “It might be on a 5-inch floppy disk or even on mimeograph paper. So, we are ordering newly manufactured carpet. And as was the case originally, we will order a bit extra in the event that repairs need to happen through the years.”

Travelers who don’t want to wait until 2024 to get a shoe selfie with the old carpet design are in luck. There’s still one spot in the terminal that has some of the carpet. Find it in the "secret listening room" at the back of the Tender Loving Empire store in Concourse E, near Gate E5.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Port of Portland)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases