Salem is the capital of the state of Oregon, and has a population of 152,290, making it the third largest city in the state after Portland and Eugene. Abundant in natural beauty, it is located in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River. The Oregon Coast Range and the Cascades including Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and on the clearest of days, Mount St. Helens can be viewed throughout the city.
For its dedication to urban forestry, Salem has been awarded "Tree City USA" status by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 30 consecutive years . In keeping with the city's nickname, "The Cherry City", flowering cherry trees have been planted along many Salem streets as well as on the Capitol Mall across from the Capitol building.
In addition to the Oregon State Capitol and adjacent Willson Park, Salem's downtown contains the Mission Mill Museum, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Elsinore Theatre, Riverfront Park, and some of the oldest buildings in Oregon. The historic Reed Opera House in downtown Salem has a number of local shops, dining establishments and an art gallery.
The Oregon Symphony, based in Portland, presents about ten classical and pops concerts each year in Salem. The Salem Chamber Orchestra includes professional area musicians as well as students. The Salem Armory Auditorium has hosted touring bands, including Korn and Phish. The largest annual event in Salem is the Oregon State Fair, which takes place from the end of August through Labor Day.
Salem's largest employer is state government, but the city also serves as a hub for the area farming communities and is a major agricultural food processing center. It lies along the I-5 corridor and is within an hour's drive of Oregon's largest city, Portland