Throughout the east coast, there are plenty of towns and villages that capture the flavor of the early days of this country. One such neighborhood is found in Portland, Maine. Old Port is known for its historical flavor in both the buildings and the streets.
The district, which is sometimes referred to as Old Port Exchange, is full of cobblestone streets that harken back to the early days of this fishing village. The area is also composed of 19th century buildings and even those early fishing piers. During the 1970s, developers saw Old Port as an opportunity to give the city new life. Old buildings were put to new uses, including retail space, offices and residences. The Old Port Association was also formed during this time period to assist in preserving historical buildings throughout the district, thus saving the historical elements for future generations. The association has also been active in street improvements and restorations. Thus, through community involvement, the historical and charming aspects of this neighborhood have been preserved, while providing the modern conveniences to its residents.
By using tax incentives, development continues to grow in this district. One such development occurred in the late 1970s. It was the construction of the Cumberland County Civic Center at the top of the Old Port area. The center has since been renamed to the Cross Insurance Arena. The building is home to the Portland Pirates, part of the American Hockey League. The center is also used for concerts, as well as sporting events.
In 2006, construction began on a pier that would allow for cruise ships to dock in Old Port, thus providing an additional revenue stream to the local businesses in this neighborhood. Overtime, the neighborhood has continued to draw visitors due to its charming facades and local flavors.
Old Port in Portland has also become a social scene, providing food and entertainment to both residents and visitors alike
The area is full of restaurants, bars and boutiques, making it a destination for those seeking the nightlife of the city and a weekend retreat.
But the shopping and nightlife are not the only social and cultural draws of this community. Annually, Old Port holds a one day festival on the second Sunday of June. This festival has been ongoing for over 36 years. The event highlights the unique culture of Maine, including lobsters and fishing. During the festival in 2009, the organizers attempted to create the world’s largest lobster roll with 48 pounds of lobster meat and 4 gallons of mayonnaise. Parts of the roll were sold off to benefit a local youth organization. Other festivals have included a petting zoo, miniature golf, games and local food specialties. This is one of the highlights of summer for the local residents.
As for Old Port itself, the neighborhood continues to embrace the traditions that have been part of their culture for centuries. Still, the spirit of Maine also gazes towards the future and the possibilities for this slice of the east coast Portland.