Don't mess with Portland's mail.
Of everything that happened this year, the removal of mailboxes around the city proved the last straw for WW readers. The most-viewed story of 2020 on wweek.com confirmed that the U.S. Postal Service had removed blue boxes all over the city the same day that President Donald Trump said he was intentionally undermining the post office and mail-in ballots.
Of course, there were plenty of other things to worry about in 2020, too. Our stories that drew the most traffic range from fire winds to stay-at-home orders, federal agents policing Portland protests to Facebook despoiling a small town on the Oregon Coast.
It's a more apocalyptic list than our most-read stories of 2019, when Portlanders' biggest concern was running out of kale during a snowstorm. But revisiting these stories serves as a reminder that just making it through 2020 was a feat. We all deserve to be at least a little proud of that.
1. Aug. 13: U.S. Postal Service Confirms It Has Removed Mailboxes in Portland and Eugene—Tess Riski, 1,038,880 views
A few months before Election Day, a photo surfaced on social media depicting a truck with a bed full of U.S. Postal Service boxes. WW confirmed that the postal service had removed boxes in Eugene and Portland, and intended to haul away more. A spokesperson for USPS told WW the boxes were being removed due to declining mail volume. But the removals caused an outpouring of concern from Portland citizens—on that same day, President Donald Trump said he was intentionally undermining USPS to make it more difficult to vote by mail.
2. March 17: A Portland Strip Club Has Started a Meal Delivery Service Where Dancers Bring Food Directly to Your Door —Andi Prewitt, 346,168 views
Pandemic or not, Portlanders weren't going to go even a week without strip clubs. Even before Gov. Kate Brown issued her statewide stay-at-home order, Southeast's Lucky Devil Lounge launched "Boober Eats," where the club's dancers delivered food orders.
3. Sept. 16: Portland Protesters Say Their Lives Were Upended by the Posting of Their Mug Shots on a Conservative Twitter Account —Sophie Peel, 255,410 views
During a turbulent summer of protests, conservative journalist Andy Ngo began posting mug shots of left-wing demonstrators on his Twitter page. WW spoke to three Portlanders who claimed to have been threatened and harassed after Ngo posted their mug shots on social media.
4. Aug. 19: Mark Zuckerberg Is Despoiling a Tiny Coastal Village and Oregon's Natural Treasures. The State Invited Him. —Nigel Jaquiss, 250,818 views
Last spring, a Facebook drilling operation off the Oregon Coast left drilling machinery and thousands of gallons of drilling fluid underneath the ocean floor. The accident marked a disastrous ending to a project that residents of Tierra del Mar—the unincorporated town where a Facebook subsidiary built an industrial staging lot—resisted every step of the way.
5. Sept. 7: A Rare Wind Event Has Northwest Oregon Under a Critical Fire Warning —Matthew Singer, 219,712 views
One of the worst fire seasons Oregon has ever seen began with a windstorm. In early September, the National Weather Service placed the Portland area under a critical fire weather warning due to high-speed easterly winds. It was only the second time such a warning had been issued for Oregon, and the combination of strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity ignited wildfires that raged right up to the edge of Portland and clogged the Willamette Valley with smoke.
6. March 18: The City of Portland Is Preparing a Shelter in Place Order —Nigel Jaquiss, 176,051 views
When Mayor Ted Wheeler's office began drafting a stay-at-home order for Portland, it felt like the craziest thing that could happen in 2020. Nine months later, it's surprising it's only No. 6 on this list.
7. July 19: In Further Sign of Tension, Portland Fire & Rescue Bans Federal Agents—and Portland Cops—From Using Its Stations —Nigel Jaquiss 167,770 views
When federal law enforcement came to Portland to police demonstrations, hundreds of Portlanders took to the streets to protest. Portland Fire & Rescue stated its objections, too: The bureau banned feds and Portland police from using its stations as staging areas, including for operations against demonstrators.
8. Aug. 21: Major Downtown Property Owner Urges City Council to Address "Lawlessness You Are Endorsing Downtown" —Nigel Jaquiss, 156,215 views
After months of nightly protests, Greg Goodman, whose family is one of Portland's largest landowners, sent an email to Mayor Ted Wheeler calling for the City Council to rein in the "lawlessness" downtown. Goodman's letter claimed the streets of Portland were full of broken glass, needles and litter, and that protesters engaged in vandalism "don't know or care about George Floyd."
9. April 13: Oregon, Washington and California Form Pact to Jointly Reopen States From COVID-19 Stay-Home Orders —Rachel Monahan, 146,674 views
While the federal government floundered in addressing the pandemic, the nation's Western states decided to coordinate any plans to reopen. At the time, Gov. Kate Brown's criteria for reopening included 10 days of no deaths and the ability to trace any outbreaks. That still hasn't happened yet.
10. March 22: Gov. Kate Brown Is Preparing to Order Oregonians to Stay Home, Effective Monday —Rachel Monahan, 142,998 views
The first round of closures came only after 23 mayors in the Portland region called for a statewide shelter in place order, and Mayor Ted Wheeler claimed he'd issue such an order for Portland if Gov. Brown didn't act. It also came shortly after Oregonians flooded to the coast for spring break.