Portland is located on the Highland Rim in extreme northern Middle Tennessee. This region has always been known for excellent agricultural soils, a spectacular wildlife environment and an enjoyable climate.
People were originally attracted from the tobacco belt in Virginia and the Carolina to the Highland Rim for land speculation and dark tobacco. The Highland Rim offered ideal climate and soil conditions for growing dark tobacco. This lucrative crop increased the value of the land which benefited land speculators in the area. Eventually these speculators moved on to attempt profits elsewhere. The farmers however, remained.
The oldest local settlement in Portland is Fountain Head which is located a couple of miles south of Portland. This settlement was founded 1792 by the James Gwin family. Within a century, it grew to include a mill, tobacco factory, post office, Louisville & Nashville railroad depot and a number of local retail stores.
William Nolan built a school near Shun Pike in what is now Portland. This caused the community to grow. Portland was originally called Richland. In 1859, the L&N Railroad opened the Nashville-Bowling Green route through Portland. In the same year, a train depot was built in Richland along the railroad in on property owned by Thomas Buntin. Buntin became the depot’s first agent and later became Richland’s first postmaster. Without this depot, the City of Portland would likely not exist. The community grew around the depot. Even today, the railroad runs directly through the center of town. The first public high school in Sumner county was originally started as a seminary in 1874. It was later named Sumner County High school and opened in 1915.
In 1887, there were two towns by the name of Richland in Tennessee. This caused concern for the L&N railroad. They worried that a telegraph mix-up might result in a train wreck. It also became an extreme inconvenience to postal customers since the mail was frequently misdirected between the two Richlands. It was later decided by the Railroad administrators and the postal authorities that Richland would be renamed Portland to avoid this confusion. The new name was taken into effect on April 10, 1888. Portland was incorporated in April 1904 by legislation passed by the Tennessee Assembly.
Currently Portland is growing at a fast pace due to being part of the fast growing Nashville Metropolitan Area, leading to companies such as Daido America operating their US headquarters in Portland, along with companies such as Kyowa America and Unipres having manufacturing plants in the city as well.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.4 square miles (30 km2), of which, 11.4 square miles (30 km2) is land and 0.09% is water.
Portland is the strawberry capital of Tennessee.
As of the 2010 Census Portland had a population of 11,480. It had a racial and ethnic composition of 90.5% non-Hispanic white, 3.5% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% non-Hispanic from some other race, 1.7% two or more races, and 3.9% Hispanic or Latino.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,458 people, 3,226 households, and 2,377 families residing in the city. The population density was 739.7 people per square mile (285.7/km²). There were 3,502 housing units at an average density of 306.3 per square mile (118.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.53% White, 2.70% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 1.40% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.29% of the population.
There were 3,226 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.1% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city, the population was 28.1% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.1 males. The median income for a household in the city was $35,644, and the median income for a family was $40,786. Males had a median income of $30,550 versus $21,875 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,559. About 6.7% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.7% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.
Country star Ronnie McDowell was born in Portland and graduated from Portland High School.
NBA basketball player Corey Brewer was born in Portland and attended Portland High School, where he played high school basketball for the Portland Panthers.
Nashville Recording Artist and American Idol Finalist (Jada Vance) resides in Portland, TN.Nashville