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A Snapshot of Portland, 1924: The Taxman Cometh

19-23 Craigie Street, Portland, 1924
19-23 Craigie Street, Portland, 1924

Item Contributed by
City of Portland - Planning & Development

Text by William David Barry

Images from City of Portland Department of Planning & Development

One of the first, most enduring, and helpful acts carried out by the Portland city government that was formed under the new charter of 1923 was to photograph and describe every taxable building in the city.

The new charter grew out of decades of wrangling in the city and followed national trends to "professionalize" city governments. In Portland, 5 elected councilors hired a professional city manager. They replaced 27 councilors, 9 aldermen, and an elected mayor.

In 1924, Portland was on the verge of profound changes. The city had tall buildings, railroad gateways, a number of industries, an active port – and a population of 69,000.

The visual and descriptive record created by men and women hired by the Tax Assessors Office provides a unique view into Portland's architecture, neighborhoods, industries, and businesses.

The City of Portland worked with Maine Historical Society and Portland Public Library to digitize records of 20,000+ structures and land in the city. They are now online and searchable on Maine Memory Network.