Portland International Airport carpet reaches celebrity status

Oregon locals and visitors lined up inside Portland International Airport last week to snap photos with a 30-year-old carpet that has reached celebrity status.

More than 800 pictures were taken of people standing next to a segment of the floor covering hung up for an event called PDX Carpet Fest.

The city threw a farewell party for the airport’s trademark teal carpet, which is being replaced after three decades under travelers’ feet and wheeled suitcases.

"I guess this carpet is really iconic, and I can't imagine another city getting this worked up over carpet," said Sierra Prior, a Portland resident who posed for photos before boarding her plane to New Orleans.

The ‘80s-style carpet at PDX is decorated with dark-blue liners and red, lavender and purple dots meant to symbolize air traffic controllers’ view at night.

Once word spread the carpet was going to be torn up, the weathered floor covering became an online sensation. More than 40,000 “foot selfies” – photos people took of their feet on the carpet – were plastered on Instagram. Companies even started to sell T-shirts featuring the pattern.

"I'm getting married on November 6th, and I think I'm going to have all my groomsmen wear the PDX carpet socks," said Derek Harguth, a Portland native who went to the airport to check out the PDX Carpet Fest.

Demands for remnants of the carpet have been so high that airport officials are giving four local vendors 1,000 square yards to incorporate into items such as sofas, doormats and cat beds.

Carpet Mill Outlet received a request from a fan who was recently proposed to on the carpet and wants to use a strip to make a runner for the wedding.

The floor covering flew under the radar for the most part until officials started putting down a new carpet design last year. Some locals realized how much the old carpet meant to them as a symbol of returning home.

"I think people privately held this affection for the carpet until it started to pop up on social media," said Julie Sabatier, host and creator of the Portland-based independent podcast Rendered. "And at that point, people started to realize they were not alone and started to display this love for the carpet on Instagram."

Airport spokesman Steve Johnson said PDX officials determined the carpet was too worn for continued use in 2006 and started making plans to replace it.

"By the time we really realized the appreciation for the carpet, we were already well into the process of getting the new carpeting," Johnson said. "It was really a little bit of a surprise to us how much the community loved the PDX carpet."

The new green carpet sports a more modern design. The installation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.