History of the park

In Portland’s early years, the slopes of the Eastern Promenade served as a scenic grazing ground for cattle. Then in 1837, the City constructed a roadway along the Promenade from Fore Street to Washington Avenue. Development proposals followed. The City didn’t own the land on the ocean side of the roadway, with its prime views of Casco Bay and the harbor, and by the early 1880s the Fort Allen site was being considered for a hotel.

Fortunately for generations of Portlanders to come, local historian William Goold began garnering support for open space preservation on the Eastern Promenade. The City purchased the Fort Allen site in 1890 for use as a public park; it was followed by the acquisition of more land, initiated by Mayor James P. Baxter. In 1905, the City acquired 21 acres of open space on the ocean side of the Promenade and commissioned the Olmsted Brothers firm to design a plan for the park. 

In 1989, the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

In 2004, the City mandated preparation of a master plan for the Eastern Promenade, along with a program to encourage community support, advocacy and public education.

As stated in the 2004 Eastern Promenade Master Plan, “A Friends Group for Eastern Promenade would be the primary advocacy voice to insure funds are dedicated to the care and improvement of the park.” Friends of the Eastern Promenade was founded in 2006.