Before the Interstate: The Buried Landscape of Portland’s USM/Oakdale Neighborhood

Courtesy of the Maine Historical Society

This walk of little more than a mile introduces the history of the USM/Oakdale neighborhood in the century before construction of I 295 in the 1960s. It begins at the Glickman Family Library corner on Forest Avenue where we imagine the century-old commercial/industrial center that was demolished to make way for the exit 6 cloverleaf we see now. Next a diagonal walk across the USM campus envisions its origins as the 19th century estate of the Deering family, with adjoining farms and pastureland, and describes how USM’s built environment evolved in the past half century. A walk along the nearer streets of Oakdale between Brighton and Forest Aves studies the architecture, occupants, and key buildings of this very early suburban development. The walk rejoins Forest Avenue at Fessenden Street shows how three new factory buildings (Oakhurst Dairy, Albert Hinds cosmetics, and TS Hutton Biscuits) and the arrival of the automobile affected this area after WWI.

Directed questions and handouts will help participants learn both the history of this area and how to uncover the back stories behind natural and built landscapes all around us but often taken for granted. Participants will be walking on well paved surfaces, with a slight uphill on the USM campus. Water for a walk of an hour might be advisable.


Short, rather steep climb in middle of USM section of walk

Starting Location:

Outside building in open space at southeast corner of Bedford and Forest Ave intersection

Ending Location:

Outside building in open space at southeast corner of Bedford and Forest Ave intersection
USM's Glickman Family Library, 314 Forest Avenue
Portland, Maine 04101

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Learn more about SDGs

  • 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

May 4, 2024 / 9:30 AM

Led by: Nancy Ellenberger
Duration: 90 minutes
City/Town: Portland
County: Cumberland
Language(s): English