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Downtown

Portland Maine

Portland, Maine - Authentic by Nature

With its heady mixture of artistic and outdoor adventures, our region is stylish and sophisticated, yet remains genuine and unpretentious, a place where grey flannel and plaid flannel coexist companionably. And underlying the latest tech, fashion, and culinary scene is a deep sense of continuity. We invite you to experience the character of a region that blends the present with a very special past.

BOOK YOUR VISIT TO MAINE

Greater Portland Maine has many things to offer "must see and do" when visiting, but sometimes it's hard to know where to start. So let us help! Create your own travel plan or contact our Visitor Information Center for tips and resources. Find ideas and inspiration to get your trip started so you can experience the best of Maine.

The Vacationland

Lighthouses and lobsters and surf crashing on the rocky shore - these are the enduring images that come to mind when people think of the classic Maine seacoast. Here, in Greater Portland, you'll absolutely experience the quintessential Maine coast, as well as an urban sophistication that's creating quite a stir. TripAdvisor named Portland one of the Top 10 Destinations, based on positive feedback and interest shown by their well-traveled community. If you haven't already been, perhaps it's time you come see what the buzz is all about for yourself!

The Greater Portland Region


In the City of Portland, Maine's best features combine in one geographical region. Portland features spectacular dining and cultural opportunities as well as diverse recreational attractions and stunning natural beauty. Don't give up a thing on your Maine vacation and come to a seaside city in Casco Bay where arts meets adventure on the classic Maine coast.

Greater Portland: Casco Bay & The Coastal Maine Region

The Perfect Blend of the Present & A Very Special Past

Back coves and portholes. Ferries and festivals. Mansions and microbrews. Harvests and harbors. It seems impossible that a single seaside city jutting into Casco Bay could offer so much.

And yet, the Greater Portland Region is a tribute to diversity, as if created solely for passing visitors to set down their hats and say - this is the place! Its central location is in proximity to a world of cuisine, culture, art, and adventure.

Longfellow's "city by the sea,” once a trading and fishing settlement, has maintained much of its 19th century architecture, landmarks, and flavor, and its adventurous spirit is now woven into the region's fabric. You'll see evidence of it in its historic homes and on closer inspection, within its lauded museums, independent art studios and galleries.

Those seeking a quintessential Maine experience will find it here. Surrounded by island-studded Casco Bay, Portland offers some of the best water access to neighboring islands (just a ferry ride away), historic forts, and lighthouses in all of Maine.

Visitors who stay in town are near the waterfront bustle of the Old Port and enjoy a lively mixture of rich nightlife and cutting-edge cuisine, well-deserving of the resounding praises it earns. They find it easy to day trip to surrounding parks, to seek out the unspoiled, rugged backdrops, or pay a visit to neighboring communities, as appealing in summer as in winter – there are many; all with their own landmarks and attractions.

This is the place – but what place? You'll have to discover that for yourself.
(Of course, we're here to help.)

Use the " Travel Planner " to save your favorite places to stay, eat and drink, attractions, events, fairs and festivals, deals and vacation packages.

History, Culture & Community

Everything Past is Present


Originally called Machigonne (Great Neck) by the Native Americans who first inhabited it, the Portland peninsula was established by the British in 1632 as a trading and fishing settlement. Industry grew and Portland's waterfront became a mecca for shipping and trading companies. The name was changed to Casco and, in 1658, to Falmouth. After the Revolutionary War, "Falmouth” was established as a commercial port and began rapid growth as a shipping center. Local citizens renamed their town Portland in 1786, and in 1820 Maine became a state, with Portland serving as its first capital.

Portland's History & Chronology

Past and Present


PORTLAND'S FORTS

Fort Preble
Fort Road, Southern Maine Technical College. Once used to guard approach to Portland Harbor.

Fort Scammel
A Civil War Fort on House Island, is an interesting tour and clambake spot. At the turn of the century, House Island served as an immigration hospital for thousands of immigrants entering America.

Fort Gorges
The octagonal stone fort visible off Portland's Eastern Promenade can be visited by private boat. Designed in 1858 for short-range guns, the fort was soon made obsolete by the development of long-range guns and was never fired upon.

ARCHITECTURE / HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT LOCATIONS

Deering Oaks Park
51-acre park was scene of 1690 battle between colonists, French and Indians. Ancient oaks dot the grounds, Rose Garden, playground, duck pond, tennis courts. Saturday Farmers Market in season.

Eastern Promenade
Neighborhood with amazing views of Casco Bay. Large grassy area is a great place to bring a book, have a picnic or play a game of Frisbee, and enjoy the boating activity on the water. There is a small beach that is open to the public.

Maine Irish Heritage Center
European style cathedral served as the center of Irish Culture for over 150 years. It now houses Maine's Irish genealogical center and library, presenting the story of Irish history in Maine.

Ocean Gateway
Newly constructed building with stunning oceanfront event space and docking area for cruise ships.

Old Port
The historic center of the original settlement is centered around its commercial port. In 1866 it suffered a disastrous fire and was rebuilt almost immediately in grand Victorian style, demonstrating the city's economic resilience.

Portland City Hall
Second Renaissance Revival, 1909-1912. Designed by Carrere and Hastings of New York.

Portland Museum of Art
Charles Shipman Payson wing built 1979-83. Henry N. Cobb of I.M. Pei, architect. Contemporary Post- Modern, reflects a traditional architectural vocabulary. Built of locally-made brick with granite string courses.

Portland Observatory Museum
National Historic Landmark in Portland's East End. Only remaining signal tower in America. Views, cruise ships, lighthouses, Western Mountains.

U.S. Customs House
Built 1868-1871. Constructed of New Hampshire granite. Elaborate interior includes painted and gilded ceilings, fine crafted woodwork and marble floors. Still in use by Customs Service and the Coast Guard.

Western Promenade
Spectacular views, 175 feet above sea level, Portland's Western Promenade dates from the turn of the century and exhibits the city's well preserved Victorian residences.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PORTLAND'S HISTORY
Maine College of Art's Baxter Library | (207) 775-5152 | meca.edu

Maine Historical Society Library | (207) 774-1822 | mainehistory.org

Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine | (207) 780-4850 | usm.maine.edu/~maps/

Portland Public Library | (207) 871-1700 | portlandlibrary.com

Chronology

1632 - English settlers inhabited the Portland Peninsula, then called by the Indian name Machigonne. The name was changed to Casco and, in 1658, to Falmouth.

1652 - The entire Casco Bay area became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1675 - Area completely destroyed by Indians during King Philip's War.

1690 - Fort Loyal destroyed by French and Indians.

1775 - British warships under the command of the notorious Captain Henry Mowatt shelled and burned the city of Falmouth.

1776 - After the Revolutionary War, Falmouth was established as a commercial port and began rapid growth as a shipping center.

1786 - Local citizens renamed their town Portland.

1820 - Maine became a state and Portland its first Capital.

1820s - Portland recovers from the Embargo Act and War of 1812. Maine boats could trade all over the world.

1823 - First steamship from Boston; beginning of regular passenger service between the two cities.

1852 - Commercial Street opened to connect rail and water transportation networks.

1866 - The Great Fire of 1866, started by a 4th of July celebration, destroyed most of the public buildings, half the churches, and hundreds of houses. The city was rebuilt with brick Victorian style and early 20th century houses, now seen throughout Portland.

1941 - Portland became the home port of US North American Fleet during World War II.

1961 - Beginning of the preservation movement in Portland.

1970s - The Old Port became an area of artist's studios and a lively retail center.

1980s - Emphasis placed on preserving the waterfront for active commercial marine activities.

1990s - Revitalization of the city's major artery, Congress St., and establishment of downtown Arts District.

2001 - Passenger rail service between Boston and Portland revived.

2012 - Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.

2014 - Ferry service resumes between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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