9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nines

Behind the scenes at this year’s MAX venue

This year, MAX is all about you — the unique thinkers, makers, and doers that make Portland’s marketing community thrive. So it’s no accident that MAX 2013 will be held at The Nines — just steps from the heart and so-called “living room of Portland”: Pioneer Square.

If you’ve lived in Portland long, you’ve probably been to The Nines. Maybe you waltzed through the posh lobby, stepped through the mirrored elevator doors, and zipped up to Departure — that Jetsons-meets-Sex-and-the-City rooftop hotspot. Or maybe you stopped at the 8th floor to indulge in the farm-to-fork menu and tome-like list of local libations found at Urban Farmer. (After party, anyone?)

We thought we knew The Nines. But while researching the hotel as a venue for MAX 2013, we discovered a few interesting facts even the most seasoned Stumptown buff might not know about one of Portland’s oldest hotels.

  1. It’s green.
    The Nines earned LEED Silver Certification in 2009. All energy comes from renewable sources, while efficient plumbing saves about half a million gallons of water a year.

  1. It’s a centenarian.
    The glazed terra-cotta building was originally built by local architect A.E. Doyle in 1909 to house Meier & Frank department store. Major expansions were added in 1915 and 1932, and a $166 million renovation in 2006 updated the building to it’s current state.

  1. It’s kind of a big deal. Literally.
    Meier & Frank Square, as the building is now know, was once the largest building in Oregon, the second-tallest in Portland, and housed the largest retailer west of the Mississippi (Meier & Frank, now owned by Macy’s). How big is big? Each floor is roughly an acre itself (11 acres total) with over 1,000 windows.

  2. It was home to Portland’s 1st escalator.
    You might say it was going up and up.

  3. It housed a radio station.
    The Meier & Frank’s radio station — KFEC — sent its first broadcast on October 19, 1922 from a studio on the 5th floor. The space doubled as a library and reading room for employees, with the transmitter towers on the roof. The station was sold in 1929, relocated to Yakima, and still operates today as KIT.

  1. It’s been home to everything from a pharmacy, to a pet store, to a deli, and…
    …Santaland. Yep, it’s exactly what you’d think. A holiday-themed playland for kids, complete with an overhead monorail, railroad layout, and Santa Clauses. Plural. Awesome.

  1. It’s responsible for Clark Gable’s acting careers.
    Ok, this one’s a stretch. Word on the wiki is that Clark Gable came to Portland after working in several second-rate theater, and took a job as a necktie salesman at Meiers & Frank. While in Portland, he met Laura Hope Crews, who convinced him to return to acting. It proved a good decision for both parties, as Crews ultimately starred beside him as Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind.

  1. It’s a gallery in disguise.
    From the finest suites to the fitness room, artwork adorns and inspires. Check out Storm Tharp’s portrait of Clark Gable by the elevators, or slink off to the library to peruse works from Gus Van Sant’s personal collection. Read statements from all the artists in this PDF.

  1. It’s called The Nines because…
    …the hotel occupies the top nine floors. So now you know. Go impress your friends and visitors with your astounding intellect!

  • Posted On: 22nd April 2013
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  • Under: Buzz

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