Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Portland is the largest city in Maine with a population of 64,249 citizens as of 2000. It is the county seat of Cumberland County. Nearby cities include Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Manchester, New Hampshire. It is known as a haven for tourists visiting the state because of its lively downtown and historic Old Port along the Fore River. The Portland Head Light in nearby Cape Elizabeth is a popular tourist attraction is often used as a symbol of the harbor and the surrounding communities
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 136.2 km² (52.6 mi²). 54.9 km² (21.2 mi²) of it is land and 81.2 km² (31.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 59.65% water.
Portland, Maine was originally called Machigonne (Great Neck) by the native people who first lived there. It was settled by the British in 1632 as a fishing and trading settlement and renamed Casco. In 1658 its name was changed again, this time to Falmouth.
In 1675 the city was completely destroyed by the Wampanoag people during King Philip's War. The city was rebuilt, to be destroyed by the same aborigines again several years later. In 1775 the city was destroyed yet again, this time by bombardment by the Royal Navy during the American Revolutionary War.
Following the war, a section of Falmouth called "The Neck" developed as a commercial port and began to grow rapidly as a shipping center. In 1786 the citizens of Falmouth formed a separate town in Falmouth Neck and named it Portland. Portland's economy was greatly stressed by the Embargo Act of 1807 (prohibition of trade with the British) and the War of 1812. In 1820 Maine became a state and Portland was selected as its capital. By this time both the Embargo Act and the war had ended, and Portland's economy began to recover. In 1832 the capital was moved to Augusta.
On July 4, 1866 a fire ignited during the 4th of July celebration, destroyed most of the commercial buildings in the city, half the churches and hundreds of homes. More than 10,000 people were left homeless. After this fire, Portland was rebuilt with brick and took on a Victorian appearance. Citizens began building huge Victorian mansions along Portland's (now famous) western promenade.
The high quality of architecture in Portland is in large part due to the succession of talented architects who worked here. Charles A. Alexander (1822-1882) provided many of the designs for Portland's Victorian mansions. Henry Rowe (1810-1870) specialized in Gothic cottages. George M. Harding (1827-1910) designed many of the commercial buildings in Portland's Old Port as well as many of Portland's ornate residential buildings. Around the turn of the century Frederick A. Tompson (1857-1906) designed many of Portland's residential buildings.
But by far the most influential and prolific architects of the Western Promenade area were Francis Fassett (1823-1906) and John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940). In the 1870s Fassett was the undisputed leader in his profession. He was commissioned to build the Maine General Building (now a wing of the Maine Medical Center) and the Williston West Church as well as several schools and his own home. From the early 1880s to the 1930s Stevens worked in a wide range of styles from the Queen Anne and Romanesque popular at the beginning of his career, to the Mission style of the 1920s, but the architect is best known for his pioneering efforts in the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles, examples of which abound in this area.
The erection of the Maine Mall, an indoor shopping center established in the suburb of South Portland during the 1970s, has had a significant effect on Portland's downtown environment. Department stores and other major franchises either moved to the nearby mall or went out of business. This has been a mixed blessing for locals, protecting the city's local character (chain stores are often disinterested in it now) but leading to a number of empty storefronts and a fragile economy. Some residents still lament at having to venture out of town for certain products and services no longer available on the peninsula.
Since the 1990s, Maine College of Art has proved to be a revitalizing force in the downtown area - bringing in students from around the country, and restoring the historic Porteous building on Congress Street as it's main facility. The school has also maintained the Baxter building, once home to the city's public library, as a computer lab and photography studio.
After being destroyed four times, Portland stands as one of the most beautiful cities in New England. The Victorian style architecture, which was popular during Portland's rebuilding, has been preserved very well by the city's strong emphasis on preservation. Most cities have only small traces of architecture from this era. Portland's unique history and determination to survive have made it one of the best places to live and visit in the country. In 1982 the area was entered on the National Register of Historic Places. In modern lifestyle surveys, it is often cited as one of America's best small cities to live in.
As of the census of 2000, there are 64,249 people, 29,714 households, and 13,549 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,169.6/km² (3,029.2/mi²). There are 31,862 housing units at an average density of 580.0/km² (1,502.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 91.27% White, 2.59% African American, 0.47% Native American, 3.08% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. 1.52% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 29,714 households out of which 21.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.1% are married couples living together, 10.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 54.4% are non-families. 40.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.08 and the average family size is 2.89.
In the city the population is spread out with 18.8% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 36.1% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $35,650, and the median income for a family is $48,763. Males have a median income of $31,828 versus $27,173 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,698. 14.1% of the population and 9.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.0% of those under the age of 18 and 11.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Famous people who were born/influential in Portland include:
- Cyrus Curtis, publisher and philanthropist
- Neal S. Dow (1804-1897), leader in the Temperance movement
- John Ford, director
- Bob Marley, comedian
- Stephen King, writer
- Linda Lavin, actress
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet
- Thomas Brackett Reed, US Representative
- Doug Morton, Musician/ Producer
- Liv Tyler, Actress
- Judd Nelson, Actor
- University of Southern Maine (USM)
- WMPG Non-Commercial Radio Station
- Children's Museum of Maine
- Casco Bay Islands, including the Casco Bay Ferry
- Downtown Arts District
- Portland Museum of Art
- Portland Performing Arts Center
- Portland Symphony Orchestra
- East End Beach
- Hadlock Field, home field of the Portland Sea Dogs
- Historical Parks
- Baxter Boulevard (Back Cove)
- Deering Oaks
- Eastern Promenade
- Lincoln Park
- Western Promenade
- Maine Medical Center
- Maine Narrow Gauge Railroard
- Over 100 miles of nature trails
- 95 Playgrounds
- Portland Head Light Lighthouse
- Portland Museum
- Portland Observatory
- Prince of Fundy Cruises
- 11 Professional golf courses
- 124 Tennis courts
- Victorian Mansion (Morse-Libby House)
- The city motto is "Resurgam".
- The city seal is a phoenix rising out of ashes.
The city is served by a primary newspaper, the Portland-Press Herald, every day except for Sunday when the Maine Sunday Telegram is printed. Several weekly papers are also available, including the ubiquitous Portland Phoenix.
The Portland broadcast media market is the largest one in Maine in both Radio and Television. A whole host of radio options are available from Maine and Boston based stations. The area is served by local television stations representing most of the television networks.
- City of Portland Maine Website
- Official tourism site
- University of Southern Maine (USM)
- Port of Portland Website
- Portland Press Herald
- Portland Jetport
- Portland Museum of Art
- Maine College of Art
- Victoria Mansion
- Portland Public Library
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