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Salem Oregon: The Complete New Resident Guide

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Welcome to beautiful Salem, Oregon.

The word “Salem” is the anglicized form that means “Shalom,” which is the meaning of peace, in Hebrew.

Salem offers visitors precisely that and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities and historical sites to explore.   

In this Newcomers Guide to Salem, you will learn all about the background as well as pertinent information you will need and everything this place of peace has to offer.

Let’s start off with a little history.

Should you find yourself in need of a cleaning service in Salem, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Beginning of Salem

Salem is Oregon’s capital, and it one of the eldest cities in the state. The city projects simplicity that provides the small-town hospitality with just enough culture and politics to keep things interesting. Founded in 1842, in 1851, it became the capital of the Oregon Territory and incorporated in 1857.

Salem’s location is the center of Willamette Valley alongside the beautiful Willamette River that runs through the city. The Willamette River is the boundary between Polk and Marion County. 

In the 2010 census, the population was 154,637 residents. That placed the city in Oregon third in line for being the largest behind Portland and Eugene.   

Overview of Salem 

The K-12 system and the five institutions of higher educations have an excellent reputation. The educational institution offers workforce training, undergraduate, and graduate programs. Each of these contributes to a wealthy tapestry of cultural arts and events that help the local business community, support economic diversification and enhance the community.

The community is diverse with well-established neighborhoods with a small town feel and a family ambiance. The air is pure, commutes are short, and the parks are beautiful.

Businesses that Keep the City Economy Strong

Salem is home to Chemeketa Community College, Corban University, and Willamette University. The largest public employer is the State of Oregon with the most extensive private employer being Salem Health.

Sale-Keizer Transit, Non-commercial air travel, and Amtrak Services are the public transportation transits along with McNary Field being for non-commercial air travel. Major roadways are Oregon Route 22, Oregon Route 99E, and Interstate 5.

The area is a significant agricultural and farming community that is a hub for a major food processing center as well as these production plants

  • The maker of potato chips, Kettle Foods, Inc made Salem its home in 1982. The manufacturing plant employs 700 individuals.
  • NORPAC Foods, Inc, a massive food processor in Salem as well as other places in Marion County. Their brands include Santiam Canned Vegetables, West-Pac and West-R-Pac frozen vegetables and fruits.
  • Oregon Fruit Products, Inc has been canning Marionberries, Blackberries, and other fruits in Salem using Oregon as its brand name.    

Cherry Festival and State Fair

The agriculture industry has always been an essential part of Salem. The city historically celebrates and recognizes the devotion it has in a few different ways.  For the Oregon State Fair, the Oregon State Agriculture Association chose Salem as its permanent home.   

Due to the past significance of the cherry growing industry, in 1903, the first cherry festival took place.

The celebration took place until after World War I and had the election of the cherry queen and parades. Salem attempted to revive the festival in late 1940’s 

cherry blossom

Public Services in Salem

The Salem Public Library:

salem public library

There are two branches; Teen Scene, found at Plaza level 585 Liberty ST SE, and the Western Salem Branch, 395 NW Glen Creek RD.  Both libraries offer much more than just books.

They each provide computer labs, the latest online resources, multimedia collections, research help, meeting and study rooms, and activities for all ages.      

Animals and Pets:

a black dog surrounded by the people

The city of Salem does not require pet license. However, Polk and Marion both impose a pet license law. There are a variety of opportunities for you and your family to study and interact with wildlife in the area. 

The laws and stipulations for keeping chickens and goats, barking statutes, goats grazing ordinances, how to handle urban and wildlife, as well as all licensing are available here.

Business Resources

There are many resources the city offers to connect businesses with state, federal, and local resources to aid with financing, exporting, recruitment, and expansion.

For information of any of the following, contact the Urban Development Department, found at 350 Commercial ST NE, Phone: 503-588-6178:

1. Business Grants, Loans, and Incentives

2. Demographics

3. Guides for doing business with the City

4. Organizations supporting workforce and training

5. Permits, fees, and enhanced review services

6. Small business, home business, and start-up 

Salem Municipal Court

The  Municipal court administers justice services to inspire public confidence, preserve a safe and livable community, and protect the right of individuals. If you need to appear in court, need help through the municipal courts, pay fines and tickets, reinstate driver’s license, and request court records, this can all be taken care of at 555 Liberty ST SE RM 215.

Phone: 503-588-6146

Parks & Activities

entrance on the salem riverfront park

Salem offers many fun things to do both indoor and out, such as play in the park spray fountains and watching outdoor movies in the Riverfront Park. There are many sports activities such as softball leagues, sports tournaments, kickball leagues and more in the park system.

For the outdoors type that wants to relax, Salem has numerous public parks. They provide you with the opportunity to appreciate nature, relax, interact with the community, and improve your health.

Convention Center and Downtown Activities

convention center by downtown

The convention centers location is in the center of downtown Salem. It provides over 30,000 square feet of space for stunning wedding venues and meeting space, multiple-day conventions, workshops and meetings, and social events.

You do not want to miss exploring downtown and its classic Oregon experience. You can enjoy a diverse variety of restaurants and shops, the Riverfront Carousel and Park, downtown specialty stores, Reed Opera House and State Capitol, and the Elsinore Theater; all in walking distance of the Conference Center.    

Places to Stay

Whether you are visiting family, going to the Children’s Museum and the Enchanted Forest theme Park or in town for business purposes, there are several options for your stay right in the area. A few of these are:

Hampton Inn & Suites

Best Western Plus Mill Creek Inn

New York style loft in Downtown

The Grand Hotel in Salem

Wrapping Things Up

As you can see, Salem, Oregon has everything you need whether it be for business or pleasure, it is all here.

This guide aims to offer all the essential details of the area. Hopefully, everything of importance we touched on to provide you with an excellent insight of the city.

If you have any further questions, please contact the City Hall at 503-588-6178.

Whether you are going to visit or are moving to the area, we look forward to meeting you. Our House Cleaners and Maids also serve Portland.