Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Salem is the capital of the state of Oregon in the United States of America, and county seat of Marion County. As of 2003 it has a population of 142,940. It lies in the center of the fertile Willamette Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.
"Salem" is derived from the Hebrew word "Shalom", which means peace. Historically, Salem has been nicknamed the "Cherry City," because of the cherry festivals that were held periodically during the Twentieth Century .
The city's focus is primarily governmental, but it serves as a hub for the farming communities and is one of the largest centers of food processing in the nation. It lies along the I-5 corridor and is within an hour's drive of Portland.
In a bid to diversify its economic base, Salem attracted a number of computer-related manufacturing plants in the 1990s. In November, 2003, the Sumitomo Mitsubishi Silicon Group, one of these arrivals, announced that they will close their two silicon wafer plants at the end of 2004, eliminating 620 jobs, and moving the production to other plants.
The Native American name for the area was Chemeketa, which means "meeting or resting place." The name "Chemeketa" is preserved as the name of the local community college, Chemeketa Community College .
The first white settlement in the area was the Jason Lee mission in 1840. In 1842, the missionaries established the Oregon Institute (the forerunner of Willamette University) in the area that was to become the first townsite of Salem. In 1844 the mission was dissolved and the townsite established. It is uncertain who chose the name for the town, but it is believed to be one of two people: Trustee David Leslie from Salem, Massachusetts, or W. H. Willson who in 1850 - 1851 filed the plans for the main part of the city.
In 1851, Salem became the state capital after it was move from Oregon City. The capital was moved briefly to Corvallis in 1855, but was permanently moved back to Salem that same year. A two-story state house, which had been occupied for only two months, burned to the ground in December of 1855. Salem was incorporated as a city in 1857.
Oregon's second capitol building was completed in 1876 on the site of the original. The greek revival style building was based in part on the U.S. Capitol building. The building received its distinctive copper dome in 1893. Tragically, fire claimed the second Oregon capitol building on April 25, 1935.
The third and current capitol building was completed on the same site in 1938.
The first cherry festival in Salem was held in 1903. In the following decades, the event briefly became an annual event, with parades and the election of a cherry queen, but was disbanded after World War I. It was revived briefly as the Salem Cherryland Festival for several years in the late 1940's 
Salem is located at 44°55'51" North, 123°1'44" West (44.931109, -123.029159).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 120.1 km² (46.4 mi²). 118.4 km² (45.7 mi²) of it is land and 1.6 km² (0.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.36% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 136,924 people, 50,676 households, and 32,331 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,156.1/km² (2,994.0/mi²). There are 53,817 housing units at an average density of 454.4/km² (1,176.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 83.07% White, 1.28% African American, 1.51% Native American, 2.41% Asian, 0.47% Pacific Islander, 7.90% from other races, and 3.36% from two or more races. 14.59% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 50,676 households out of which 32.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% are married couples living together, 11.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% are non-families. 28.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.53 and the average family size is 3.10.
In the city the population is spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 100.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 99.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $38,881, and the median income for a family is $46,409. Males have a median income of $34,746 versus $26,789 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,141. 15.0% of the population and 10.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.2% of those under the age of 18 and 7.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Points of interest
Besides the state capital, Salem is the home of Willamette University, the Mission Mill Museum, and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a minor league baseball team. The BIA operates Chemawa High School, a Native American Native American Boarding School near Salem.
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