Congress Street is the main east-west avenue through downtown Portland. In the late 18th century, this was called Back Street because it defined the edge of town. Wealthy residents selected the area to build their impressive homes. When Portland was the capital of Maine (1820 – 1832), numerous state and municipal buildings were constructed. This attracted the development of hotels, commercial businesses, retailers, museums and churches. Several were spared during the 1866 fire. The addition of new construction – in a wide variety of architectural styles – continued until the Great Depression. In short, Congress Street is a reflection of Portland’s history from about 1785 through the 1930s. This travel guide identifies many highlights along Congress Street from High Street, through the residential neighborhood in the East End and to the shores of Casco Bay.