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Writing About Cities

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Portland Oregon Downtown Cityscape in the Fall

One beautiful Autumn day in Portland Oregon downtown from Vista Bridge with view of Mount Hood City Skyline and Trees with Fall Color Foliage

David Gn Photography/ Moment/ Getty Images

Read the following paragraphs introducing Portland, Oregon. Notice that each paragraph focuses on a different aspect of the city.

Portland, Oregon is located in the northwest of the United States. Both the Columbia and the Willamette river run through Portland. It is the largest city in the state of Oregon. The city is famous for its proximity to the mountains and the ocean, as well as its relaxed, friendly inhabitants. Approximately 500,000 people live in Portland while the Portland metro area has a population of over 1.5 million inhabitants.

The main industries in the Portland area include computer chip manufacturing and sportswear design. In fact, two famous sportswear companies are based in the Portland Area: Nike and Columbia Sportswear. The largest employer is Intel which employs over 15,000 people in the greater Portland metro area. There are also many smaller technology companies located in downtown Portland.

Portland's weather is famous for its rain. However, the spring and summer are quite lovely and mild. The Willamette valley to the south of Portland is important for its agriculture and wine production. The Cascade Mountains are located to the east of Portland. Mt. Hood has three major skiing facilities and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The Columbia river gorge is also located close to Portland.

Tips for Writing an Introduction to a City

  • Discuss one aspect of the city in each paragraph. For example, one paragraph about general facts and population, one paragraph about industries, one paragraph about culture, etc.
  • Use resources such as Wikipedia to help you find facts about the city.
  • Use 'its' as a possessive when writing about a city (not her, or his). For example, Its main exports are ...
  • When using numbers, write out the numbers up to twenty. For larger numbers, use numerals. For example: There are two professional sports organizations ... BUT There are over 130,000 inhabitants in XYZ.
  • Use 'million' when expressing very large numbers. For example, 2.4 million people live in the greater metro area.
  • Make sure to capitalize specific names of companies and monuments.
  • Use both the comparative and superlative forms to make statements relating to other cities and regions. For example: It is the largest producer of apples in the state.

Helpful Language

Location

X is located in the Y region of (ountry)
X lies between the A and the B (mountains, valleys, rivers, etc.)
Located at the foot of the B mountains
Located in the R valley

Population

X has a population of Z
More than (number) people live in X
Approximately (number) people live in X
With a population of (number), X ....
inhabitants

Features

X is famous for ...
X is known as ...
X features ...
(product, food, etc.) is important for X, ...

Work

The main industries in X are ...
X has a number of Y plants (factories, etc.)
The main employers of X are ...
The largest employer is ...

Exercise

  • Choose a city you would like to describe.
  • Find a research page for reference purposes. You can use sites like Wikipedia, magazines, or other resources.
  • Choose three or four broad topics you would like to discuss.
  • For each topic, write down a list of specific facts using your reference materials. For example:

    Weather

    more than 80 inches of snow on average extremely hot summers etc.

  • Take each fact and write a sentence about that fact. For example:

    Boulder receives more than 80 inches of snow on average each winter.

  • Combine your sentences into a paragraph on each broad topic. Make sure to use linking language, pronouns, etc. to link the ideas in your sentences into a logical sequence.
  • If you are using a computer, make sure to spell check your work.
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