Portland Now, Inc.

The Historic Portland Neighborhood of Louisville, Ky.

About the Historic Portland Neighborhood

Portland is located in the north-western section of Louisville Metro. It is below McAlpine Locks and Dam. Our boundaries vary, depending on who you talk to. At one time we were located between 9th Street on the east, the river on the west, Jefferson on the south and the river on the north. Today, we are bounded by 10th St. on the east, 44th St. (where Bank St. begins) on the west, the south side of Market St. on the south, and the river on the north.

We currently have between 8,000 and 11,000 people in our neighborhood.


History of Portland

In the 1800's the French settled on Shippingport Island, but they had a church in Portland before it was considered a town, Our Lady Church (Notre Dame du Port) still stands.

Eventually, General William Lytle purchased about 3,000 acres of land and it was established as the town of Portland in 1811. He contracted Joshua Barclay to lay out the town. It was located on the banks of the Ohio River.

People traveling on the boats from the western and southern United States had to stop and go around the Falls of The Ohio to continue east, and the same process had to occur when travelers from the east wanted to go west or south. All products moved on the river had to go around the Falls.

So, Portland became a port for people to stop and board overland transportation to arrive at the Louisville Wharf or to arrive in Portland from Louisville to board water transportation. Portland became a very populated town. Businesses were established in order to meet the needs of the rest of the United States.

There were many wealthy families and boat Captains or Pilots,that settled here, and you can see this in the architecture. Eventually, Irish and German people also settled here, they provided the skills and labor necessary to make sure everything ran smoothly, many of their homes are also here.

Some river boat pilots could navigate the Falls during high water, but they ran the risk of losing their cargo and people. The river drops around 24-26 feet at the Falls. So, the safest plan was to transport cargo and people around the Falls.

Eventually, Portland was annexed by Louisville, and it un-annexed itself when a railroad did not come through as promised, but soon that ended too, and the neighborhood became a permanent part of Louisville. Tom Owen, Louisville Historian, made a film called "Portland: The Independent Neighborhood", it fits us pretty well. But, we know our independence can only do so much.


Did You Know? Fun Facts About Portland... 

  • We are the only neighborhood with a History Museum about our neighborhood located in our neighborhood, but it does have Louisville history as well.
  • John James Audubon lived on Shippingport but visited Portland to create some of his bird paintings. 
  • The first female U.S. River Boat Pilot lived here.
  • General LaFayette visited here.
  • The only surviving Marine Hospital remains in Portland, it is being restored. 
  • Most of the structures in the neighborhood are at least 100 years old. 
  • The father of the National Weather Service, Increase Lapham, lived here.
  • Jim Porter the Kentucky Giant established a Tavern here and lived here when he moved from Shippingport. 
  • D.W. Griffith was here, C. Lee Cook was here. Paul Hornung,was raised here.
  • A main "Freedom Crossing" was here. 
  • Portland is a major part of not only Louisville's history but also that of the United States. The Portland Neighborhood received one of the first "Preserve America Neighborhood" designations from the federal government. 
  • We are the oldest neighborhood of Louisville .

Portland Now - Our Vision, Our Goals

The group known as the Portland Neighborhood Association disbanded several years ago. In October of 2001 a new group, Portland NOW, was formed. We are an "umbrella" group, which means that several other groups are part of us. We perform the duties charged to a Neighborhood Association but with a new outlook.

 Our Vision...

The vision of Portland Now, is that of a improved Portland Community. Where all residents, and those who may not be residents but have a strong interest in Portland's future, can work together to see the improvement become a fact.

We have people of all political parties, churches, and areas of Portland. We have working partnerships with several other agencies & organizations. We consist of people from just about every walk of life.


Our Goals...

  • Our main goal is to pull the community together so that everyone has a voice.
  • To create a community that is welcoming & open to possibilities.
  • To protect our heritage & treasures.
  • To create a safe & economically stable environment for future generations.
  • To promote education & offer tools that will help build responsible adults & youth.

How You Can Help?

We can see these goals become reality, but it will take a while unless you join in to help. What are your goals for this community? What do you want to see happen? Send us an email with your suggestions, dreams and goals or come to a Portland Now monthly meeting. We really want to know what is on your mind.

Portland Now wants the community to be involved in a proactive way. We want all who wish to help make the changes necessary to improve the community, to be involved.

All Portland residents are general members and are eligible for nomination to the Board of Directors. So, attend a meeting, vote on issues and let us know what is on your mind.

Monthly Meetings

We meet the first Tuesday of each month. We have pizza at 6:00 pm with the regular meeting beginning at 6:30 pm. The location currently is: Neighborhood House, 201 N. 25th Street, on the corner of 25th and Rowan. These meetings are open to the public.