The Portland Exposition Building, known to most as "The Expo", opened in 1915, and is the second-oldest arena in continuous operation in the USA. We've all been to the Expo for a middle school track meet, car show, beer festival, or Red Claws game over the years, but the Expo has seen some pretty amazing events featuring historic figures.

1945- Babe Ruth Referees a Wrestling Match

The Babe was out of baseball by 1945, and was doing gigs as a wrestling ref! Fans packed the Expo, not to see the match, but to see the Bambino in the flesh. Ruth almost got into a fight with one of the combatants that night!

Babe Ruth
Getty Images

1960- Senator John F. Kennedy Campaign Speech

This speech by JFK kicked off his national campaign for President.

1963- The Beach Boys' First-Ever Concert on the East Coast

Pretty cool that this iconic band played their first East Coast concert at the Expo. I wish they all could be Portland Expo Girls....isn't that how it goes?

So Many Concerts!

You might not think of the Expo as a major concert venue in Portland. But what if I told you that Queen, Janis Joplin, Bob Seger, Martha Reeves, The Clash, The Monkees, Little Feat, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Phish, James Brown, Dolly Parton, the PSO, and many others have all played the Expo? I would call that an epic!

1964- Sugar Ray Robinson Boxes at the Expo

Pound for pound, maybe the greatest boxer that has ever stepped into the ring. Sugar Ray beat up on Gaylord Barnes on May 19th, 1964.  Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Jack Dempsey, and Rocky Marciano also fought at the Expo in their careers.

President Barack Obama Has Visited the Expo Several Times

Obama campaigned in Portland both times he ran for President.

The Expo Hosts a COVID-19 Vaccine Site

I figured we would add one more historic event to our list. Congrats to all of you who had your OWN historic moment at the Expo getting vaccinated!


According to Wikipedia, the Expo used to have a really nice club in the basement! It was called Club Dumont.  "The Cafe D" was a full-service nightspot that offered "Top international entertainment in a classy nightclub atmosphere." 

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