Thursday, May 26, 2011

Old Port, Portland, Maine

While New England has some world-class and interesting cities, one of the most interesting is Portland, Maine.
  • There is plenty to find if one in on a cultural quest, including The Portland Museum of Art with its Homers, Kents and Wyeths housed in its three buildings.  (One designed by John Calvin Stevens and another by Henry Cobb of I.M. Pei.)  My favorite is City Hall Auditorium,  now officially known as Merrill Auditorium, and its sizable pipe organ (in fact, the oldest municipal pipe organ in the country, donated by publisher Cyrus Curtis).  In the summer one can enjoy weekly concerts featuring major musicians from all over the world, including the brilliant organist and friend, Yale's Tom Murray.
  • Portland is also known for its working waterfront (which admittedly now includes regular stops by cruise ships). The Old Port section is famous for its small shops and cobblestone streets (especially pretty during the holidays), as well as some rough and tumble bars.   
  • The Jetport is one on the most pleasant and easy to access airports.
  • And despite Maine being one of the least diverse states in the country (and many years it tops the list) there are over 60 languages spoken in its public school system.

But there is one feature that is both especially impressive and representative.  Portland has become one of the top destinations in the country for its food.   As a result, not only can one enjoy fresh and exquisite meals in town,  but residents also enjoy the benefits of the growing number of organic farms that have sprung up in the outlying areas of the city to meet the needs of the restaurant business.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jamestown, Rhode Island

The feel of Edgartown of 30 years ago. 
One of the loveliest coastal New England towns is Jamestown, Rhode Island, on Conanicut Island, in Narragansett Bay.  Despite being just across from Newport, it has maintained a gentle feel with unspoiled beauty.  In fact, it has always reminded me of Martha's Vineyard from thirty or forty years ago.