Portland’s first true public park was a result of the city’s Great Fire of 1866, which decimated most of the city east of Bramhall Hill. The fire halted at the foot of Munjoy Hill after vanquishing a densely settled neighborhood of wood-framed houses just south of Congress and Franklin streets. Rather than rebuilding what was then a working-class neighborhood, the city created a park named for the late president, Lincoln Park, producing open space for recreation as well as a fire-break.
Laid out in 1866 by the city’s Civil Engineer, Charles R. Goodell, Lincoln Park is roughly parallelogram-shaped and was originally 2.5 acres in size. It is surrounded by a cast-iron fence with hexagonal granite posts that are spaced ten feet on center and sit on projecting bases. The granite shafts are capped by cavetto molding, fillets, and a shallow, square-based pyramid. Contrary to Goodell’s design, the city later built diagonal paths originating at the four corners of the park and meeting in the center. At this junction, the city erected a three-tiered Baroque Revival fountain in 1871, although a tier is now missing. The trees and plantings specified in Goodell’s original design are no longer extant. A quarter of the park’s eastern end was sacrificed in the late 1960s during the widening of Franklin Street into an arterial connecting the Back Cove to the old port as part of the Victor Gruen’s “Patterns for Progress” urban renewal plan for Portland.
Bauman, John F. Gateway to Vacationland: The Making of Portland, Maine.Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.
Holtwyk, Theodore H.B., and Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., eds. Bold Vision: The Development of the Parks of Portland, Maine.Kennebunk, Maine: Greater Portland Landmarks, 1999.