A rather well-known section of downtown Portland, Maine. As the name suggests, it is in the older section of the city, located near the waterfront. (Although the Old Port is NOT the same as the waterfront. Fore Street forms a clear boundary between the two).

It encompasses the shopping/dining destrict, bordered more or less by Federal Street to the north, Market Street to the east, Union Street to the west, and Fore Street to the south. The majority of buildings in the area are eateries or shops, although you will find the occasional web design house or graphics studio. The main street in the Old Port is Exchange Street, which runs more or less through the middle. The architecture in the Old Port is typical of early New England: closely spaced, small buildings made of brick; stone steps, brick sidewalks, and many ash trees planted along the sides of the roads. There are even a few streets which have remained cobblestone, and are maintained as such by the city Public Works. You can find two types of people wandering in the Old Port :

  • Clueless tourists who dart across Exchange Street at random intervals, looking at their maps and pointing to various things from behind dark sunglasses, and...
  • Teenage potheads, artists, and rebels without a cause (is there any difference?) who like to either sit around in Tommy's Park and yell obscenities at passing motorists, or partake in the universal passtime of darting across the street at random intervals.

In either case, I would not recommend attempting to drive on Exchange Street. There are three way stops, which are a less-than-brilliant traffic flow solution, and the effective speed limit in the area is about 5 mph, due to the darting pedestrian problem.

That notwithstanding, though, the Old Port is a very aesthetically pleasing area of the city, and anyone visiting the city should at least take a few hours to check it out, 'cause I mean, every other tourist does!

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