Leaving the Portland, Maine, harbor, we continued our photo walk in the Old Port neighborhood. The area has a rich history and many 19th century brick buildings, cobblestone streets, galleries, fishing piers, shops, restaurants and bars.
Located near Portland’s waterfront, the United States Custom House is a testament to the city’s maritime history. It was built to accommodate the city’s growing customs business, which, by 1866, was collecting $900,000 annually in customs duties – making Portland one of the most significant seaports in the country. The building is typical of the notable designs completed under the direction of Alfred B. Mullett, Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1865 to 1874. Constructed between 1867 and 1872, the U.S. Custom House combines elements of the Second Empire and Renaissance Revival styles.
Portland remains an active fishing port in southern Maine.
Born John Martin Feeney on 1 February 1894, the Portland native son and Academy Award winning movie producer John Ford died on 31 August 1973. He was a member of the Portland High School graduating class of 1914. Surrounding his statue in downtown Portland are a series of tributes to some of his more notable Hollywood movies:
“The Grapes of Wrath (1940): This cinema masterwork adapted from John Steinbeck’s novel is the definitive portrayal of the great depression in America and the common man’s struggle. Ford’s humane characterization of the Joad family’s plight and trek to California is presented in a documentary style with social concern and hope for ‘our people’.’ The film earned Ford his second Academy Award.
“How Green Was My Valley (1941)” The film was the recipient of six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was a sentimental memory story of a Welsh mining family and its eventual disintegration. Ford’s choreographed scenes, choral background music and ritualized depiction of family loss and social change in the modern industrial age was superb.
“December 7th (1943): John Ford won his fifth Oscar for this documentary detailing the United States Navy’s comeback after the devastation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Homage was paid to the soldiers from different services, different regions and different racial origins. The film affirmed a ‘We are all Americans’ theme.
“The Quiet Man (1952): John Ford’s courtship love story celebrated the heritage and customs of his family’s native Ireland, earning him his sixth Oscar. With Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne as its principal actors, the movie was gloriously filmed in Technicolor and scored with traditional Irish songs. The film was a joyous return to the land and family and continues to be his most popular film.”
Near John Ford’s commemorative statue and plaques is Portland’s quintessential Irish neighborhood bar, Brian Boru.