The Library will be closed Monday, April 21 in observance of Patriot's Day. We will re-open for regular hours on Tuesday, April 22.
Life of the Library
The world at your fingertips right in your neighborhood.
Portland Public Library’s mission is to serve the Greater Portland Community by providing a diverse collection of books and other resources, with access to information resources worldwide. The library’s services support the educational, informational, and recreational interests of all community members.
Among the Library’s growing offerings via Digital Commons, you may now visit our new portal of regional postcards. The screen shot, below, also provides a link to the general page. By browsing, you may enjoy the display as a slide show or as a way to view single images. More are on the way. Stay tuned, and enjoy these colorful views of the Portland area!
Looking at this postcard, from circa 1910-1920, we can observe the familiar and the structures of yesteryear.
Postcards also inform us about the images visitors and locals chose to send out to faraway places, representing the sights of a city such as Portland.
It happened this day : August 1, 1939. At the brink of World War II, the battleship U.S.S. New York stopped in Portland Harbor, preparing to patrol the North Atlantic.
On August 1, 1939, the U.S.S. New York anchored in Portland Harbor to give the men on board a week’s liberty, apparently much to the delight of the local girls, or, as an effusive reporter called them, “Portland’s pulchritudinous lassies.” The battleship carried 371 Naval Academy midshipmen, 755 enlisted men, and 57 officers who had been engaged in training exercises at sea.
The photo above was taken near the Grand Trunk Railroad pier, along eastern Commercial Street.
While the midshipmen enjoyed a tea dance at the Portland Country Club, readers of the Evening Express and the Portland Press Herald learned that the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had a “dark but still hopeful view of the international picture” (see story in the far right column). Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement would end with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, exactly one month after these photographs were taken. Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939.
During the war, the U.S.S. New York participated in convoy operations. Once the war had ended, she served as a target during atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands in July of 1946, after which she was too radioactive for further service and was decommissioned.
Here are the original camera images which were used in the Portland Evening Express article, showing crew members of the U.S.S. New York plying their musical talents, and baking in the large ship’s kitchen.
Above: Exercising on rowing machines on deck.
Below: Writing letters home, and catching up on reading, aboard the U.S.S. New York
For a hint of what life was like for our midshipmen in 1860, stop by the Portland Room and take a look at the Regulations of the United States Naval Academy (call number 359.0071 U58 1860)