It has its own Wikipedia page, its own Twitter account, and tens of thousands of tagged photos on Instagram. The Portland airport’s teal, patterned carpet has become a social media and cultural phenomenon that’s hard to understand if you’re not from the City of Roses. Here’s how it all began.
The carpet was first introduced to the public in 1987, as The Port of Portland hired SRG Partnership to design and install flooring that would reduce the amount of noise created by travelers clomping across the airport’s cement walkways.
Meant to feel bright, warm, and welcoming, it stuck out in an era where neutrals and muted earth tones ruled corporate design and aesthetics. Its blue and green hues, sprinkled with little dashes of red and pink, were an abstract depiction of the intersecting north and south runways seen by air traffic controllers from the airport’s towers at night.
Slowly, but surely—particularly thanks to social media—the carpet grew a cult following. Natives and visitors alike began snapping photos of their Chuck Taylors planted on the iconic teal carpet, with captions like, “Home,” “PDX,” and “Obligatory.” The design, and what it represented, simply compelled people to share.
In 2013, the airport announced its $13 million plan to replace the carpet, sparking local outcry. Annie Linstrom, from The Port of Portland, is quoted as saying, “We understand that people have an emotional connection to the carpet.”
Despite the negative feedback, The Port of Portland moved forward with their plan, replacing the 30-year-old carpet with a new design that is strikingly similar to the original version. With “mood-enhancing” colors, a greenish hue, and repeating, geometric pattern, it represents a new era for the airport, and Oregonians alike.
Peruse #PDXcarpet on Instagram today, and you’ll find that the new version certainly hasn’t deterred travelers from letting their friends know where they are. PDX carpet shows you’re home.