Portland, Maine’s largest city, is located approximately 50 miles up the coast from the New Hampshire border. Originally home to the Abenaki Indians, a fishing and trading village was established here in 1633. The village was destroyed by the Abekanis during King Philip’s War in 1676. The settlement was rebuilt in 1678, yet Fort Loyal, the largest fort in New England, failed to protect the village from the French and the Abenakis, who destroyed the settlement in 1690 during King William’s War. The abandoned village was settled again after a treaty was signed in 1713, but the community once again came under attack during the Revolutionary War, and three-quarters of the town was destroyed in 1775.
Once America gained its independence in 1776, a thriving commercial port was finally established, and in 1820, Maine became a state with Portland its capital. In 1832, the capital was moved to Augusta due to its central location and the potential threat of enemy attacks from the sea. Although the city was never again attacked, it suffered several devastating fires, including the Great Fire of 1866, which left 10,000 residents homeless. The city was then rebuilt with brick, and through the city government’s preservation efforts, many of its historic architectural treasures from the 19th century can be visited today. The Western Promenade features well-maintained mansions built in a variety of styles, including Victorian, Gothic, Mission Revival and Colonial Revival.
Portland is a great city to see by foot and features many attractive parks. Due to the relatively mild climate, it’s a comfortable city to explore even in the winter. In 2009, Forbes.com named Portland the country’s “most livable city”.
Home to many microbreweries and brew pubs, Portland has developed a national reputation for its excellent restaurants. The city was one of the 2007 Food Network Awards three finalists for “Delicious Destination of the Year”. In 2009, Bon Appetit magazine dubbed Portland the “Foodiest Small Town in America”, and the city was named a food destination by the New York Times. Many of the best restaurants are located in The Old Port, the city’s successfully restored warehouse district.
The Arts District is located a few blocks from the waterfront and features a trove of art galleries, studios and antique shop. Congress Street alone boasts The Portland Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, the Children’s Museum of Art, the State Theater and the Portland Stage Company. The city also boasts the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Portland Maine Civic Center.
If you like professional baseball, Portland’s Hadlock Field is home to the Portland Sea Dogs, the Minor League Baseball Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
The city boasts its own airport, the Portland International Jetport. Traveling by car from points directly south, Interstates I-95 (the Maine Turnpike) and I-295 are the fastest routes, while Route 1 is a scenic option. Visitors from Vermont can access the city from Route 302. The Amtrak Downeaster is an option for visitors from Boston, and Concord Coach and Greyhound bus lines connect Portland to a number of other cities.
While New England tends be hot and humid during the summer, the city’s location on Casco Bay tends to protect the city from heat waves. Even in the warmest month, July, the average daytime temperature is 78.8°F, while in January, the coldest nightly temperatures average 12.5 °F. The wettest month is typically November with 4.72 inches of precipitation on average, while the driest month is August, which typically averages 3.05 inches of rain.