Franklin Street in 1924

These images, along with a brief overview of the history of “slum clearance” in Portland, were presented by city Historic Preservation Program Manager Scott Hanson at the first meeting of the Franklin Street Redesign Committee.

View the Portland Press Herald Slide Show

The historic photographs shown here are from the City of Portland’s 1924 tax photo collection. As part of a tax re-evaluation in 1924, every taxable building in the city was photographed, including dozens of the historic buildings that would be destroyed to make way for the Franklin Arterial.

Beginning in 2009, this remarkable collection of more than 10,000 images will be digitized and made accessible on the web in cooperation with the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network and the Portland Public Library’s Portland Room.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with this project, please contact Scott Hanson in the city’s historic preservation program at 756-8023 or

Below, a virtual walk up the lost Franklin Street, beginning at Commercial Street and progressing over the hill into Bayside:

The W.L. Blake complex. A few of these buildings still remain, near the corner of present-day Franklin Arterial and Fore Street. A large painted advertisement for W.L. Blake still remains on the warehouse at 79 Commercial Street (next to Standard Baking):
WL Blake Building

Corner of Franklin and Fore Streets, looking towards the Old Port. The new Bangor Savings Bank building is now located here. Note the Customs House in the background:
256 Fore

Looking northwards towards the corner of Franklin and Fore Streets. The two brick buildings in the background, on the other side of Franklin Street, actually still stand today: the lower building at far right is part of the abandoned Jordan’s Meats complex, and the 2-story building behind it houses Hugo’s restaurant.
255 Fore

Around the corner from the buildings above was 90 Middle Street, shown here from the corner of Middle and Franklin:  90 Middle

A front view of 76-78 Middle, on the other side of Franklin. This is the surviving building that today houses Hugo’s, Rabelais Books, and Pepperclub.
76-78 Middle

On the north side of Middle Street, west of Franklin, where the police station now stands:
97-99 Middle

And 89-91 Middle Street stood on the north side of Middle, just east of Franklin (it’s also visible in the background of the photo above):
89-91 Middle

Continuing up Franklin on the east side of the street was 51 Franklin, and just up hill, 57 Franklin: 51 Franklin51-57 Franklin