If you’ve ever experienced the vibrant nightlife in Portland or strolled down the charmingly uneven path of Wharf Street in the Old Port, chances are it’s etched in your memory.
Back in January 2020, Aceto Landscape Architecture and Urban Design unveiled plans for a redesign of the distinctive quarried granite blocks that line Wharf Street and Dana Street. Although Wharf Street’s current appearance suggests age, it actually took shape in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Originally an alley, the city invested nearly $200,000 in 1979 to transform it into a pedestrian walkway. Over the years, it transitioned from hosting retail stores to becoming a hub for bars and restaurants in the 1990s.
According to Public Works Director Christopher Branch, the redesign was initiated in response to local businesses’ requests. The aim is to enhance safety for deliveries, provide more space for outdoor seating, and make safety and accessibility improvements to attract additional businesses. Branch noted that the street’s uneven condition resulted from years of poor drainage, increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic, deferred maintenance, and weather-related wear and tear. The project also includes rebuilding and widening sidewalks to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
In current photos, the wear and tear are evident, with drains protruding from the ground and the notorious ‘Gri-Migos pond‘ between Amigos and Gritty McDuff’s. This small puddle has even gained a niche Facebook following documenting its existence since 2014.
Nevertheless, a few months after the proposed redesign, the Wharf Street redevelopment plans faced an unexpected setback with the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll be sure to provide you with the latest updates as we continue to stay vigilant for any new developments.