Back Cove & Baxter Boulevard, Portland, ME



United States

Back Cove & Baxter Boulevard

A 340-acre circular tidal basin, Back Cove held Portland’s industrial waste and residential sewage in the 1800s. Hired by Mayor James Baxter in 1895 to improve the site, Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot proposed a dam to form a saltwater pond, dredging the mudflats and creating a tree-lined drive and promenade around the perimeter of the cove. That plan was never built, but ten years later the Olmsted Brothers proposed a new design based on the earlier concept in their 1905 plan for the Portland Park System. Work under the new plan started but was halted when the six-term Mayor lost his bid for re-election. Work began again in 1911, as City engineers stabilized the edges of the cove, graded the roads, and constructed sidewalks and ornate bridges. The 100-foot wide parkway Baxter Boulevard opened in 1917. In the 1920s, linden trees were planted as a memorial to local soldiers who died in World War I and a memorial made of granite and bronze was dedicated to James Baxter in 1925.

Today, the parkway, linden trees, and Baxter Memorial are intact. A contemporary jogging path around the entire cove evokes the 1895 vision of the perimeter promenade. Back Cove and Baxter Boulevard were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

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