Unlike many American cities, Portland has distinct neighborhoods, each with a unique vibe. The Hawthorne is eclectic and lighthearted. North Portland has become the stomping grounds for funky artists. And the Pearl is sophisticated and posh. The emerald of the Southwest, Lake Oswego, has its own distinct characteristics. Located eight miles south of Portland, Lake Oswego, or "L.O.," is more than just a bedroom community for commuters. Here's what makes Lake Oswego special, and why its residents love their city so ardently.
1. Neighborhood Safety
Lake Oswego is clean, family-friendly, and safe. Resident John Olsson is a characteristic LO resident. He moved to Lake Oswego from northwest Portland when he became a father because he wanted his son to grow up in a safe neighborhood. "I've had no crime in eleven years," he brags. Like many of his neighbors, Olsson loves that he doesn't have to worry about his house being broken into or being the victim of petty crime.
State crime statistics support Olsson's impression. In 2005, the state of Oregon reported only 937 property crime offenses in Lake Oswego, compared to 50,850 in Portland. Moreover, Portland had fifty times as many burglary arrests as Lake Oswego. Yet Lake Oswego's proximity to downtown and public transit accessibility allows its residents to enjoy Portland's best cultural offerings.
2. Educational Excellence
Olsson should know about what makes schools great; after all, he's the director of Huntington Learning Center in Lake Oswego. "Our schools are top notch," he testifies. "They have a culture of excellence, and a real sense of community."
Indeed, the Oregon Department of Education rates all 13 of Lake Oswego's schools as exceptional. At the elementary level, 95% of Lake Oswego's students meet or exceed state standards, perhaps because each elementary school has reading and math specialists on staff. Unlike much of the rest of the country, elementary students still enjoy music and physical education classes.
The district's statistics and awards at the high school level are even more impressive. Newsweek ranked Lake Oswego High School in the top 1,300 public schools in the nation. Over 90% of the graduates from Lake Oswego's two public high schools attend college. High SAT scores make them competitive college applicants: 86% of LO students took the SAT in 2005. Their average score was 1690, over 100 points higher than the national average.
All of this data points to one simple fact - Lake Oswego public schools are so excellent, they are often compared to Portland's best private schools. If you're looking for a great public education for your children, Lake Oswego is an excellent place to live.
3. Community Events and Active Lifestyle Amenities
The homes in Lake Oswego tend to be large, expansive residences with beautiful views and high property values. They are also located in one of the most active communities in the area.
Lake Oswego is a great place to be a sports enthusiast. LO's golfers flock to the municipal course, which offers views of both Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Mountain bikers love the city's miles of bike paths winding through lush forests.
Lake Oswego itself offers a wonderful trail for walkers and joggers. The area's 490 acres of clear open space and three natural areas are perfect for nature lovers. Add seasonal events such as the extensive farmer's market and the annual Festival for the Arts, and it's tough to be bored in Lake Oswego.
So, if you're looking for a well-groomed, safe community with excellent schools and plenty of fun activities, Lake Oswego may be the perfect neighborhood for you.
- Ben Anton, 2008