The tradition of the Portland Public Market dates back to the year 1825. Agricultural trade would take place on the market’s ground floor, while meetings and other public functions would be conducted on the upper level. In the next seven years, Portland would become a wealthier city. Thus, in 1832, they remodeled they remodeled the façade of the Portland Public Market, and installed an elaborate double staircase. In 1866, there was a major fire in Portland. However, the Portland Public Market did not burn. The townspeople gathered at the market to receive sustenance and obtain information. In 1882, the market was torn down. The current Civil War monument stands in its place.
A second market was built on Milk Street in Portland’s Old Port. However, it was demolished in the 1890s to make way for an armory. Today, the Regency Hotel is housed in the former armory’s building.
For many years following its demolition, the Portland Market operated as a seasonal, outdoor event. In fact, outdoor food markets in Maine are still a popular Maine tradition. However, in 1995, officials of the city of Portland discussed the possibility of building a new indoor market. In the fall and winter of 1996 and 1997, they hired the architectural firm of Orcutt Associates of Yarmouth. The architects decided to team up with Hugh Boyd, who was a renowned specialist in public market architecture. Some of the Portland Market’s signature design elements were added at this time. These included the pedestrian sky bridge which links the Market with the new Public Market Garage, as well as the massive huge fireplace located at the center of the L-shaped building. Every effort was made to make use of Maine-made materials and skilled local tradesmen. In June of 1997, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Portland Market was held. Today, the Portland Market is one of the most frequently visited food markets in Maine.
The Portland Public Market features a vast array of products, which include flowers, specialty foods, meats, baked goods, Maine sea food, vegetables and other types of food well known in Maine. However, the distinguishing factor between the Portland Public Market and other food markets in Maine is the Portland Market’s special events and festivals. If you are interested in learning how to cook ethnic foods, Maine sea food or the types of food well known in Maine, the Portland Market has a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen. Cooking classes are held periodically, as well as catered private and public events. If shopping for all this food makes you hungry, don’t despair! There are a number of excellent restaurants in the Portland Market.
Public food markets are becoming popular throughout the entire country. In many cases, popular products are first launched in these markets. Starbucks, for example, got started in the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Who knows? One day, a unique type of food well known in Maine might become famous. If this happens, you can say that you discovered it at the Portland Public Market!