181 Portland, Maine Facts: Tourism, History And Other Trivia

Ayan Banerjee
Jan 29, 2024 By Ayan Banerjee
Originally Published on Feb 25, 2022
Edited by Jade Scott
Fact-checked by Sudeshna Nag
Place well known for its commercial shipping
Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.7 Min

Portland in Maine encompasses the architecture of the 19th century.

Being part of the seat of Cumberland county, tourism in southern Maine uses the marine industry as a prime economic source. This place is also well known for its commercial shipping, the service sector, and nightlife events.

This city got its name from 'Portlanda', meaning 'land surrounded by the harbor'. The Portland Peninsula was called Machigonne among indigenous Americans. It is also known as the forest city. Portland shares a border with Westbrook, Falmouth, and South Portland. Portland started to become a populous city when Captain Christopher Levett attained a land grant of 6000 acres (2428.1 ha) of Casco Bay lands. Levett was the agent of Ferdinando Gorges. The land granted to Levett was housed by 10 members but the settlement was not popular. They then relocated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and found solidarity with John Winthrop.

Further down the line, the Peninsula became Casco with the exponential rise of the fishing industry. After the American Revolution came to pass, the Neck region became a commercial shipment hub whereas the inhabitants of that area relocated to a different place, calling it Portland, and they were later confronted with an unstable financial scenario due to the Embargo Act of 1807.

By 1820, Maine became a state with the first capital being located in Portland, but the capital was shifted to Augusta in 1832. The state was also amongst the first state to ban alcohol. The decision had such an appeal that 18 states followed suit. The prohibition culminated in the Portland Rum Riot.Portland has also acted as a provider of free passage for Canada during winter. Portland also suffered heavy damages during the American Civil War. In 1863, during the Battle of Portland harbor, Captain Charles vandalized most parts of the city and made thousands of people refugees.

As a commercial hub, the Portland Company provided jobs owing to their investments in locomotives, railroad apparatus, boats, and fire engines for industrial betterment. Railways also became an important sector in Portland and the need for more workers helped the World War I returnees. With icebreakers facilitating the shipment to Montreal, Portland started to lose its value to Canada in the 20th century.

Let's learn more about this important city in Maine.

Fun Facts About Portland Maine

Portland can amaze you in a way you may not expect. The other Portland in Oregon prides itself on having the largest independent chain of bookstores in the world, Powell's City of Books selling new books and recycling old ones. Interestingly, Portland in Oregon got its name from Portland, Maine.

After the annexation between Portland and Deering, the comprehensive Portland neighborhood comprises the famous Maine mall, Bayside, Bradley's Corner, the Deering Highlands, the Arts District, Cliff Island, Downtown, East Deering, Cushing's Corner, Nason's Corner, Munjoy Hill, East Bayside, EastEnd, Kennedy Park, Libby Town, Lunt's Corner, Eastern Cemetery, Morrill's Corner, North Deering Peaks Island, Rosemont, West End, Riverton Park, Little Diamond Island, Stroud Water, Oakdale, Parkside, and the Woodford's Corner.

The city economy started to shift its focus to service-based jobs with time, mainly to banking industries. Key Bank, Unum, the Bank of America, Covetous, the People's United Bank, and Truchoise Federal Credit Union have functional headquarters in downtown Portland. Rest Pioneer Telephone, Burnham and Morrill Co., IDEXX, WEX Inc., and B and M Baked Beans also operated here and provided service-based jobs. Being in the financial decline in 1970, South Portland introduced the Maine Mall. With tourists coming to these places, the economy was revived in the Old Port. The industrial bayside of the city at Portland witnessed its growth as a commercial hub at Middle and Exchange Street, like Park Avenue is for real estate, Trader Joes Supermarket, Wholefoods, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, condos, the Maine Sign Company (used to be responsible for making city signs), and Munjoy Hill are all situated here.

Ocean Gateway had been surrounded by Indian cultures. The city's downtown district has many renowned places like the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Merrill Auditorium, Children's Museum of Marine, Maine Historical Society and Museum, and the Space Gallery. For tourists, the Portland Stage Company, Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, Maine College of Art, and Portland Museum of Art can be great choices. This place has some of the city's favorite nature spots like Payson Park, Baxter Woods, Deering Oaks Park, Back Cove, Western Cemetery, Eastern Promenade, Ever Green Cemetery, Fore River Sanctuary, and Neal S. Dow House.

Historical Facts About Portland Maine

The history of Maine covers many raids and vandalizations from 1675 to 1690 which caused significant casualties in the totality of the population of Portland. By 1632, the Portland area got permanently settled. It was also ravaged by fires.

Prior to American Independence, Portland had seen battles that nearly dismantled the city. In 1690, the Battle of Fort Loyal battered the city when the French soldiers and Indians attacked. To save the city from future attacks, a fort on the north side, by the Presumpscot River, was built in 1698, and it was known as Fort New Casco. The fort was able to handle an attack from the northeast campaign later. In the midst of the American War of Independence, the city again took severe blows when Henry Mowat destroyed the whole place by bombing it for nine subsequent hours with HMS Canceaux in 1775. The British sabotaged Portland city during the War of Independence and everything took 10 years to recover.

In 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts, and Portland was denominated as Maine's capital. The city was also home to the third congregation of the Abyssinian Meeting House in New Burry Street around the same time. Waterborne commerce had been facilitated by the Cumberland Canal and Oxford Canal which were ranged between Portland Harbor through Sebago and Long Lake.

Alexander Parris and Charles A. Alexander played a role in giving the city its Victorian architecture. George M. Harding, Frederick A. Tompson, and Henry Rowe were the architects who brought different architectural styles and implemented them in cottages, residential homes, and churches. Francis H. Fassett developed Maine General Hospital and Williston West Church. Romanesque and other styles, such as Mission Revival, were part of John Calvin Steven's work. Much of the great work of these architects were lost in 1866, when a section of Portland caught fire on July 4.

From 1941 to 1944, rapid construction took place in Portland Harbor due to its railway connectivity and ports. Between this time, the constructions of the naval dispensary, Navy Relief Society Office, Fleet Post Office, and NAAF at Casco Bay took place. Around the same time, offices for registered publications were founded. The maritime commission depot, harbor entrance control post, inshore patrol, and Navy recruiting station were established in this period. Complete security offices were established and Portland had a LORAN training center during this period, which was the accommodation for the Combat Information Center for destroyer communication officers where the training for night visual lookouts used to happen.

Other islands nearby also became important to better prepare for the war and also developed facilities like enemy aircraft and submarine attack recognition, gunnery support, and torpedo control at the navy supply pier. Even firefighter training at Little Chebeague Island and the seaplane base at Long Island was set up between 1941-1944.Portland, therefore, became a crucial center from which US naval forces operated.

Portland shares a border with Westbrook

Facts For Tourists

Portland, a Maine city, is denominated as vacationland among tourists and tourism plays a great role in backing up the economy of the region.

Maine encompasses around 60 lighthouses and by driving for just 20 minutes, you can find six in Portland city. Portland Head Light is the best among them and is considered the most photographed place. Among 3100 offshore islands of Maine, Portland includes Casco Bay along with Long Island, Cliff Island, Little, and Great Diamond Island, Peaks Island, and Little, and Great Chebeague.

Maine temperature goes up to a maximum of 90 F (32.2 C) and can stay as low as 0 F (-17.8 C). In some parts, the temperature remains between 5-10 F (-15-12.2 C). Maine has state parks and reserves covering 500,000 acres (202342.8 ha) of land, where Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor is the most populous one. Maine Mall in South Portland holds the rank of second-largest among all malls in the northern New England region.

Fresh seafood auctions started in 1986 and Maine is popular for its lobsters. It serves 40 million lb (18.1 million kg) of seafood per annum. Portland is a transatlantic port and closest to Europe. The L.L.Bean Company, which sells clothes all days of the year, was introduced at Freeport in 1912 and attracts a good amount of traffic to the area. The town of Cherry Field, also known as the blueberry capital, became a dominant economic provider along with Freeport, Yarmouth, Saco, Portland, Yolk, Cape Elizabeth, Wells, Ogunquit, Biddeford, Kittery, Kennebunk, and Westbrook.

Maine has a coastline of 3478 mi (5597.3 km) where 30 mi (48.3 km) between Kittery and Old Orchard is covered with white sand. Sebago Lake, in the southern region, can be a great choice for aqua activity due to its shoreline of 100 mi (160.9 km).

Portland's International Cryptozoology Museum attracts people with casts of a yeti footprint, bigfoot models, jackalopes, and other quirky antiques. Maine got credit for building the first ship in the colonial era which was functional at Kennebec River. Portland in Maine also hosts the Maine Boatbuilders Show every year.

Geographical Facts About Portland Maine

Lying upon the Gulf of Marine and the Atlantic Ocean, Portland city has a city area of 69.4 sq mi (179.8 sq km) and a watered area of 47.8 sq mi (123.8 sq km).

Having a humid continental climate, Portland encounters a brief summer and lengthy winter where the temperature goes as high as 90 F (32.2 C) at the Maine coast and as low as 0 F (-17.8 C). Annually, the highest temperature may remain for four days and the lowest for 10 nights. Severe nor-easter cyclones can cause heavy snowfall. The estimation of total precipitation in this area is 47.2 in (119.9 cm) of rain, 69 in (175.3 cm) of snow, and the region is scaled at 5b and 6a in the US hardiness scale. The coastal areas can sometimes be a little bit warmer and here, a cascade of snow onshore either becomes rain or sleet. The midwestern thunderstorms and southeastern hurricanes are less severe than southern snowstorms.

Did you know...

Maine legislature has made it possible for Maine to expand beyond its territory to Deering City for development purposes.

Places to visit in the city include the Maine College of Arts in Portland Downtown, the Porteous building, and Monument Square. Besides these places, there are many other places to visit in the city. Walking tours are also conducted to explore the history of Portland. In Portland, Maine, suburbs are categorized in neighborhoods marked as corners with local associations on behalf of the city government for the betterment of the place. However, these neighborhoods have no legal rights.

The port that was once important for providing passage to Canada has revived its status and the first container train left the International Marine Terminal with bottled water. Americold had made up their mind on developing a new storage facility at the port, which was to be temperature-controlled. By 2017, their unemployment had seen a decline of 3%. By 2020, David Roux decided to introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning to Northeastern University students.

From the 20th century, Portland started having a taste in arts with the pioneers, John Neal, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, John Rollin Tilton, Franklin Simmons, Charles Codman, Harrison Bird Brown, Grenville Mellen, Benjamin Paul Akers, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Nathaniel Parker Wills, and many such prominent celebrities being from here. Ian Crocker, the famous Olympic swimmer, and participant of the Pan Pacific Championship, who holds the record of a complete 100m butterfly race in 51 seconds, was born in Maine.

The legislature used to sit in a property on the corner of Myrtle and Congress Street until the construction of Augusta was completed. In 1827, the legislature relocated to Augusta, which was more centrally located and remained functional there.

You can have a look at the Cross Insurance Arena, Martin's Point, the Portland Observatory, Portland Head Light Lighthouse, and the University of Southern Maine. There are a few more to consider even as a local, including the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, Longfellow Arboretum, Exchange Street, the International Cryptozoology Museum, the Portland Exposition Building, McLellan Sweat Museum, Wordsworth Longfellow House, and the Casco Bay islands.

From 1973 until today, every summer, Old Port hosts food festivals which are some of the great socio-cultural events. Lobsters from Maine are world-famous. Here, Curtis and Son became the first gum manufacturing venture in 1852 and was introduced with John Curtis.

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Written by Ayan Banerjee

Bachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Ayan Banerjee picture

Ayan BanerjeeBachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Thanks to his degree in nautical science from T.S. Chanakya, IMU Navi Mumbai Campus, Ayan excels at producing high-quality content across a range of genres, with a strong foundation in technical writing. Ayan's contributions as an esteemed member of the editorial board of The Indian Cadet magazine and a valued member of the Chanakya Literary Committee showcase his writing skills. In his free time, Ayan stays active through sports such as badminton, table tennis, trekking, and running marathons. His passion for travel and music also inspire his writing, providing valuable insights.

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