Tuesday, July 12th, 2005
I was there last week. Click for a bigger view, or better yet, see the full sized version.
Saturday, November 27th, 2004
Today was cool, dry, and sunny. I had an abbreviated session, and the follow are a few of the results.
I already posted a photo of the Salt sign - we wanted to go in, but they were closed for Thanksgiving.
This art gallery has taken the space of the nightclub Zootz, where I remember waiting outside until 2 a.m. when they would let in minors until closing at 4 a.m.
This is an example of excellent urban design: the parking structure contains usable office and retail space on the ground floor. This helps provide parking without overly disrupting the urban fabric. There are other parking structures in Portland with this design, and some are filled with shops and even a movie theater.
This old looking house is located just a couple blocks from Congress Street.
This is an example of a well-designed, small urban park near heavily trafficked sidewalks.
Friday, November 26th, 2004
Today was Day 2 of my Portland Photo Project. The weather was clear and brisk with temperatures in the 30s and low 40s. The City of Portland lit their Christmas tree in Monument Square tonight at 6 p.m., with a good sized crowd turning out despite temperatures in the 30s.
Today I focused on parts of downtown I had missed yesterday: the upper part of Congress Street, and part of the waterfront. If you have suggestions for places to check out either tomorrow or Sunday please leave me a comment!
Waterfront and Streetscapes
These condos, constructed in the 1980s, were among the first residential construction along what was an exclusively working waterfront.
Widgery Warf is used by many local lobstermen.
Wharf Street in the Old Port.
Murals and Public Art
This is on the side of the bar Brian Boru.
Woodfords corner, an early suburb of Portland, is now within the city limits.
This building houses the other Starbucks.
This is the old Baxter Public Library building.
The Portland Museum of Art’s McLellan House
The State Theater is Portland’s downtown movie palace. It is operated as a concert venue today after some financial troubles. In many places these theaters were torn down, in some places (Like Ann Arbor, Michigan) they were preserved by the local government.
One of the halmark of dense, pedestrian urbanism are storefronts and signs. Since the signs are meant to be viewed close up, many Portland businesses have very attractive custom made signs.
I just discovered this - it’s something called the Center for Cultural Exchange. It looks interesting!
Thursday, November 25th, 2004
These photos were taken today.
This old anchor and navigational buoy were placed near the ferry terminal.
Cobblestones on Exchange Street in the Old Port
This hotel opened this year, constructed on what had been for years an empty lot.
The Old Port
All of these photos were taken today.
This Eritrean restaurant had recently gone out of business.
Bull Feeney’s sign.
The location of the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies.
A moose-only tea house?
Yes, there’s a Starbucks in Portland. Four total, but only two are in the downtown area.
The Surplus Supply Store on Monument Square is going out of business.
Portland Maine’s City Hall
Portland’s City Hall
Porteous was Portland’s downtown department store. My father worked there as a salesman briefly in the early 1970s. Their old building now houses the Maine College of Art.
I found this graffiti mural behind the Asylum nighclub:
This alleyway is only open to cars on specific hours:
Today was day 1 for my Portland Photo Project, where I’ll be documenting Portland, Maine in digital photos over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Portland was foggy today, with temperatures in the 50s.
For background, I found this Christian Science Monitor article interesting. It suggests that Portland is succeeding in becoming a “Cool City” and attracting creative class professionals. On the same website, here’s another article about some of the retail history of the city.
Wednesday, November 24th, 2004
I grew up in a small town just north of Portland, Maine. Portland has a population of just over 64,000 people, and the southern Maine region has 200,000. The population is 91% white. Portland is Maine’s largest city, and in many ways the state’s financial and cultural capital. My father was from the city, my mother has worked there for years. Growing up, my family attended a Portland church and frequently traveled there.
The city boasts a symphony orchestra, an attractive museum of art designed by the firm of I.M. Pei, and a variety of historic structures. Largely rebuilt after an 1866 fire, the city of Portland has a well preserved Victorian architectural heritage.
Located on a peninsula and lacking either the population or capital for very much postwar sprawl, the development of one freeway and a mall only temporarily slowed the city’s downtown economy, which has made a dramatic recovery since the 1980s. Dozens of brick warehouses have been converted into offices, lofts, shops, restaurants, and bars. In the last year a new hotel opened adjacent the city’s ferry terminal, and in the 1990s the city opened a public market, attracted a minor league baseball team, and even finally got around to re-establishing passenger rail service. The city government website has more facts and links here.
Why all the description? During my trip home for Thanksgiving, I am planning to document the city with photos on this website. I’m planning to do this partly for fun, partly to re-discover as an adult a place I have long took for granted, and also because I think we can learn something from the city. In a country where pleasant cities are relatively rare, places like Portland seem oddly out of place. Perhaps my photos can help illustrate what Portland did right.