About Portland Maine
Tucked inside the Casco Bay Peninsula, Portland is the largest city in Maine and was officially founded in 1632 by the British, though Native American Indians lived in the area for hundreds of years beforehand and called it Machigonne (Great Neck). Portland was originally known as a trading and fishing village, but other industries sprung up during the early settlement years, including shipping and ship building, logging, and exporting goods inland.
Part of Cumberland County, Portland’s population stood at 66,194 in the 2010 census, an increase of 3 percent over the 2000 poll. A bustling seaside community, it combines some of Maine’s best geographical and small town features into one area: A beautiful coast line, opportunities for biking, hiking, skiing, water sports, and first rate dining, shopping, and cultural attractions and events.
Residential Housing Market
Most of Portland’s residents live in neighborhoods spread amongst its three zip codes, though nearly half live in the centrally located 04103 zip code. The residential housing market is a mix of single family and multi-family units, with the median house or condo value nearly doubling from $125,000 in 2000 to more than $250,000 in 2009. These values are much higher than the rest of Maine, where the median house or condo value in 2009 was pegged at $177,500.
According to the most recent statistics, there are nearly 32,000 homes in Portland, with 58 percent occupied by renters. Of homes available for rent in 2009, the median rent asked for vacant property was $1,002, while for occupied rental properties the median monthly rent was $830. Overall, median monthly housing costs were about $964 in 2009.
Things to do while you’re there
Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, Portland offers an eclectic blend of night life, sightseeing, cultural, and recreational activities to choose from all year long. Immortalized in poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “My Lost Youth,” Portland is widely regarded as the cultural center of New England thanks to its thriving art scene. Must-see attractions include the Portland Museum of Art, the Maine College of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine’s Art Museum Trail, and the Farnsworth Art Museum.
Sightseeing opportunities are plentiful, as Greater Portland Landmarks offers walking tours of the cities four distinct historical neighborhoods during July and August. Foodie tours also are available, offering a behind the scenes look at Portland’s quaint Old Port area; for those interested in maritime history, a one-hour tour of the Bath Iron Works Shipyard can be had, ending at the Maine Maritime Museum for a deeper exploration of the city’s symbiotic relationship with the sea.
For tourists, Portland’s top five attractions include:
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home.
- The West End’s opulent Victoria Mansion.
- The Portland Museum of Art in Congress Square, which anchors the Arts District along Congress Street.
- The Portland Head Light, America’s first lighthouse and commissioned by George Washington in 1791.
- The Portland Observatory, America’s last wooden signal tower and built in 1806.
Portland’s rich history, cultural landmarks, and small town charm make it an ideal location for tourists and residents already living in the area, offering year-round attractions suitable for any budget and taste.