The Abenaki Native Americans lived here for millenniums before Portuguese explorer Estêvão Gomez’s discovery in 1524 followed by English Captain John Smith in 1614. The first of several attempts at settlement began in 1623. In 1786, the town of Portland was established. A key to growth was maritime trade because this is the closest U.S. port to Europe. The harbor’s success accelerated in 1820 when the city became the capital of the new state of Maine. A further boom occurred after 1853. That is when a railroad was connected to Montreal. Portland rapidly became the winter port serving Canada when other harbors in Atlantic Canada and the St. Lawrence River were icebound. After the 1920s, shipments at the wharfs declined and the area deteriorated. In the 1980s, a rebirth began along the waterfront and the Old Port neighborhood. That is what you are experiencing today: a blend of the historic and the new all facing Portland’s Harbor. Most of the vessels you will see are cruise ships, sightseeing tours and lobster boats like those shown here.