Any Mainer can tell you that when you mention “Portland” to an out-of-stater, they almost always ask, “Portland, Oregon?” But did you know that Portland, OR is named after Portland, ME? That’s right, Maine was first, and we’re pretty in love with our Portland over here on the east coast of the country.
Portland is Maine’s largest city, settled in 1632. It now has a population of about 67,000 people, and is full of so many wonderful bookish places, I can’t possibly name them all. But I was visiting Portland a few weeks ago, and managed to see some of the highlights.
Print: A Bookstore: A brand spanking new indie bookstore on Congress Street. (Because despite what everyone keeps saying, indie bookstores are opening all the time!) Owned by Emily Russo Murtaugh and Josh Christie, former booksellers at several famous indies, this is a gorgeous store with tons of great stock and author events.
Wadsworth-Longfellow House: This historical home is nestled among the big buildings in the heart of the city, next to the Maine Historical Society. It was passed to the Historical Society in 1895 by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s younger sister, to be preserved in remembrance of her famous family.
Yes Books: This bookstore, across from the Portland Museum of Art, is a browser’s dream, packed floor-to-ceiling with used books and rare finds. Seriously – it’s PACKED.
Portland Museum of Art Gift Shop: The Portland Museum of Art is the perfect size museum: four small floors, filled with just enough art by famous artists, plus they have a kick-ass selection of books in their gift shop.
The Green Hand: I was unable to visit this trip, as they are closed Tuesdays-Thursdays, and those were the three days I was in Portland. (Maybe they knew I was coming????) But if you ever get a chance to check them out, they are an eclectic shop, full of great used books.
Casablanca Comics: This awesome comic shop just celebrated its 30th anniversary in Portland’s Old Port. Full of all kinds of comic goodness, it’s housed in a beautiful brick space.
Sherman’s Books & Stationary: This is one of six Sherman’s locations in Maine, situated on Exchange Street in Portland’s Old Port(next to Mt. Desert Ice Cream, where you can get a Jack Daniels milkshake!), and has a great selection of titles to peruse, and fabulous sidelines.
Portland Public Library: If you’re like me, finding the library in any town is a top priority when I visit. This one is situated smack dab in the middle of the downtown area.
Longfellow Books: This indie bookstore has a selection of both used and new books, and partners with the local animal rescue league, so they have cats in the store that you can adopt!