Maine’s biggest city is small and laid-back, with a lively waterfront, impressive late 19th-century architecture and a burgeoning restaurant and gallery scene. Its vibrant downtown near the old port is lined with handsomely restored brick buildings, where colorful cafés, shops and bars gather Maine’s most bohemian crowd. Portland also has historic Victorian-filled neighborhoods to explore, a highly respected art museum and abundant green space with superb city and harbor views.
One of the city’s icons is the phoenix, an apt symbol for a city devastated by fire and rebuilt several times since its founding by English colonists in 1632 (prior to their arrival, the settlement was known as Machigonne or ‘great neck’ by the indigenous Wabanaki). The latest and worst conflagration occurred in 1866, when many of the town’s wooden buildings were reduced to ashes and 10, 000 were left homeless. Portlanders vowed ‘never again, ’ and rebuilt their city using redbrick and stone – which today is the backdrop to some of New England’s most atmospheric cobbled streets and squares, this side of the Charles River.
The Old Port Street Festival, begun in the 1970s, is held on the first Sunday in June; it’s marked by outdoor performances (folk, world music, rock) on various stages, a parade, kiddy rides and plenty of street food.
Portland destination guides
Loving the eccentric Pacific Northwest
The USA's Pacific Northwest is known for its magnificent landscape, its cities of progressive thought and innovation, its music and its coffee. It's a region that's not afraid of the kook-factor. In fact, it loves it. Check out these oddities that add to the Pacific Northwest's particular flavour.
Gallery (and cafe)-hopping in Portland, Maine
While Portland, Oregon may be attracting culture vultures from all over, Portland in Maine happily flies under the art radar, attracting only the savviest of art oglers. Art aficionado Daniel Kany has worked in hipster hubs across the US.