In the streets of Portland (MN)

(continuer en français) – Published: August 22, 2021

Portland is the largest city in Maine with a population of nearly 70,000 people. It is located in the southernmost part of the state, in the economic orbit of Boston, which is 110 miles, 170 kilometres, away. The city occupies a peninsula and several of its neighbourhoods are separated by inlets, and several islands are also inhabited in a bay that serves as a natural harbour.

The first English settlers came to the bay in 1623. For a time, the area belonged to the colony of Massachusetts before Maine became a separate state in 1820, with Portland as its temporary capital, later moving to Augusta.

In the early days, it was mainly a fishing industry, and it was not until the late 18th century that the commercial port became more important. Then in the 19th century, industrialisation began, with shipbuilding and the manufacture of locomotives.

As a thriving commercial city, Portland was graced with public buildings that demonstrated its importance. These include the Custom House dating from 1872 and the City Hall completed in 1912.

In the downtown area there is also a beautiful church from 1825, First Parish Church.

Victoria Mansion dates from the mid 19th century. This beautiful Italianate mansion was built as a holiday home for a native of the city who made his fortune in New Orleans. Equipped with the best technology of the time, its interior was well preserved until its conversion into a museum in 1941.

Like many old cities, Portland was ravaged several times by major fires, while wood was still the main building material. It was decided to rebuild entire neighbourhoods in brick.

As the city centre became more gentrified, these rows of brick houses have been beautifully rehabilitated, with a special effort to decorate the entrance hatch at the top of a few steps.

Downtown streets are full of shops and make for a pleasant walking tour.

Several sculptures decorate the streets.

The harbour district has become a lively area, especially in the evening. The Old Port attracts visitors with its 19th century architecture and the usual ambiguous atmosphere that inhabits ports around the world.

The Old Port is being developed as an asset for the tourist sector, in addition to the tertiary activities that are seeking to bring about economic renewal in the face of declining industrial activities.

Portland remains an active port, one of the most important in the United States. It also benefits from a direct rail link with Montreal, allowing the great Quebec port to bypass the winter freeze-up of the St. Lawrence.

In front of the harbour stands the Portland Head Light, one of the city’s most popular landmarks. It is located on the coast, just outside the city limits, to mark the main entrance to the harbour. The lighthouse was built in 1791, ordered by George Washington, the keeper’s house is now a museum.

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