Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Reputation of the PDX Carpet Lives On


How many people actually notice the flooring or carpeting in the airports they traverse? I can remember only one… the Portland Oregon airport carpet. And apparently, as the life of the carpet came to an end, thousands of others felt nostalgic.

The carpet’s reputation lives on. I was traveling on MAX light rail the other day when a young man told his friend that he couldn’t wait to see the “airport carpet… it’s famous.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the carpet had been changed out.

Last year, my friend and I made it to the airport before they ripped it out. There seemed to be a visitation going on for months prior to that. We were not the only ones who wanted one last photo with the iconic carpet.

The famous teal, purple and red carpet with the stylized runway design was installed in 1987 with very little fanfare. Over 320 million people passed over the carpet over the years and I was one of them. I, as many others do, have a story about the Portland airport carpet.

It was the early 90’s and I was arriving in Portland for a very important job interview. I had been contacted by a recruiter who made a job at a major Portland hospital sound like heaven on earth. I took the bait and agreed to fly up and interview for the job. I even went to Macy’s and purchased a new suit for the event.
That’s where the story starts. I decided that a wool Pendleton jacket with coordinating pleated wool skirt would fit the bill. Turquoise is my favorite color so I was drawn to the teal. I flew wearing the teal jacket and, you guessed it… plaid skirt with teal and purple highlights. Little did I know that this was also a favorite color combination in Portland, Oregon.

I departed the plane and entered the terminal and looked down. I was totally surprised. My suit matched the carpeting! I thought it was a good omen and it was. I fit in well with the Pacific Northwest lifestyle and enjoyed years working in the area.

I flew in and out of that airport frequently and always took notice of the carpet.
Apparently thousands of others did too. The old carpet had a cult following. At one point the carpet had two Facebook pages dedicated to it, with more than 12,000 fans. The carpet was followed by thousands on Twitter and many more tagged selfies of their feet with the carpet using the hashtag #pdxcarpet.

And that is not enough! There is a special craft beer with the carpet design on its label. There are socks and t-shirts with the iconic carpet design. Portland has had a long-standing love affair with its airport carpet that, sadly, reached the end of its life.

On the 23rd of January, 2015 amid much fanfare and national news coverage, the carpet removal began. The crew was careful to maintain the carpet, rolling it up neatly. Entrepreneurs and souvenir hunters will most likely find a use for it.
New Carpet

Inspiration for the New Carpet
The new carpet is forest green, with lines of yellow, red and blue. The inspiration for the lines comes from the glass canopy that keeps the rain off travelers as they cross from the terminal to the parking area. It’s pretty enough. I suppose I’ll get used to it.

Photography: Elizabeth R. Rose Photograpy
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