Portsmouth, New Hampshire facts for kids

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire
City
Market Square
Market Square
Official seal of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Seal
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Rockingham
Settled 1623
Incorporated 1653
Incorporated (city) 1849
Area
 • Total 16.8 sq mi (43.6 km2)
 • Land 15.6 sq mi (40.5 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2)  7.21%
Elevation 20 ft (6 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 21,233
 • Density 1,358/sq mi (524.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 03801–03804
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-62900
GNIS feature ID 0869312
Website www.cityofportsmouth.com
Portsmouth, NH welcome sign IMG 2656
Welcome sign in downtown Portsmouth
Market Square in 1853, Portsmouth, NH
Market Square in 1853
Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH
Congress Street (c. 1905)
Portsmouth Harbor New Hampshire William James Glackens
Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire by William James Glackens (1909)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire (1917)
Waterfront, 1917

Portsmouth is a city in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, in the United States. It is the only city in the county, but only the fourth-largest community, with a population of 21,233 at the 2010 census. A historic seaport and popular summer tourist destination, Portsmouth was the home of the Strategic Air Command's Pease Air Force Base, later converted to Portsmouth International Airport at Pease with limited commercial air service.

History

Native Americans of the Abenaki and other Algonquian languages-speaking nations, and their predecessors, inhabited the territory of coastal New Hampshire for thousands of years before European contact.

The first known European to explore and write about the area was Martin Pring in 1603. The Piscataqua River is a tidal estuary with a swift current, but forms a good natural harbor. The west bank of the harbor was settled by English colonists in 1630 and named Strawbery Banke, after the many wild strawberries growing there. The village was fortified by Fort William and Mary. Strategically located for trade between upstream industries and mercantile interests abroad, the port prospered. Fishing, lumber and shipbuilding were principal businesses of the region. Enslaved Africans were imported as laborers as early as 1645 and were integral to building the city's prosperity. Portsmouth was part of the Triangle Trade, which made significant profits from slavery.

At the town's incorporation in 1653, it was named Portsmouth in honor of the colony's founder, John Mason. He had been captain of the port of Portsmouth, England, in the county of Hampshire, for which New Hampshire is named.

When Queen Anne's War ended in 1712, the town was selected by Governor Joseph Dudley to host negotiations for the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth, which temporarily ended hostilities between the Abenaki Indians and English settlements of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire.

In 1774, in the lead-up to the Revolution, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth warning that the British were coming, with warships to subdue the port. Although the harbor was protected by Fort William and Mary, the rebel government moved the capital inland to Exeter, safe from the Royal Navy. The Navy bombarded Falmouth (now Portland, Maine) on October 18, 1775. African Americans helped defend Portsmouth and New England during the war. In 1779, 19 slaves from Portsmouth wrote a petition to the state legislature and asked that it abolish slavery, in recognition of their war contributions and in keeping with the principles of the Revolution. Their petition was not answered then, but New Hampshire later ended slavery.

Thomas Jefferson's 1807 embargo against trade with Britain withered New England's trade with Canada, and a number of local fortunes were lost. Others were gained by men who acted as privateers during the War of 1812. In 1849, Portsmouth was incorporated as a city.

Once one of the nation's busiest ports and shipbuilding cities, Portsmouth expressed its wealth in fine architecture. It contains significant examples of Colonial, Georgian, and Federal style houses, a selection of which are now museums. Portsmouth's heart contains stately brick Federalist stores and townhouses, built all-of-a-piece after devastating early 19th-century fires. The worst was in 1813 when 244 buildings burned. A fire district was created that required all new buildings within its boundaries to be built of brick with slate roofs; this created the downtown's distinctive appearance. The city was also noted for the production of boldly wood-veneered Federalist furniture, particularly by the master cabinet maker Langley Boardman.

The Industrial Revolution spurred economic growth in New Hampshire mill towns such as Dover, Keene, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua and Rochester, where rivers provided water power for the mills. It shifted growth to the new mill towns. The port of Portsmouth declined, but the city survived through Victorian-era doldrums, a time described in the works of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, particularly in his 1869 novel The Story of a Bad Boy.

In the 20th century, the city founded a Historic District Commission, which has worked to protect much of the city's irreplaceable architectural legacy. In 2008, Portsmouth was named one of the "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The compact and walkable downtown on the waterfront draws tourists and artists, who each summer throng the cafes, restaurants and shops around Market Square. Portsmouth annually celebrates the revitalization of its downtown (in particular Market Square) with Market Square Day, a celebration dating back to 1977, produced by the non-profit Pro Portsmouth, Inc.

Portsmouth shipbuilding history has had a long symbiotic relationship with Kittery, Maine, across the Piscataqua River. In 1781-1782, the naval hero John Paul Jones lived in Portsmouth while supervising construction of his ship Ranger, which was built on nearby Badger's Island in Kittery. During that time, he boarded at the Captain Gregory Purcell house, which now bears Jones' name, as it is the only surviving property in the United States associated with him. Built by the master housewright Hopestill Cheswell, an African American, it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. It now serves as the Portsmouth Historical Society Museum.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, established in 1800 as the first federal navy yard, is located on Seavey's Island in Kittery, Maine. The base is famous for being the site of the 1905 signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth which ended the Russo-Japanese War. Though US President Theodore Roosevelt orchestrated the peace conference that brought Russian and Japanese diplomats to Portsmouth and the Shipyard, he never came to Portsmouth, relying on the Navy and people of New Hampshire as the hosts. Roosevelt won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomacy in bringing about an end to the War.

In 2006, Portsmouth became an Eco-municipality.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.8 square miles (43.6 km2), of which 15.6 square miles (40.5 km2) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2), or 7.21%, is water. Portsmouth is drained by Sagamore Creek and the Piscataqua River. The highest point in the city is 110 feet (34 m) above sea level, within Pease International Airport.

The city is crossed by Interstate 95, U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 4, New Hampshire Route 1A, New Hampshire Route 16, and New Hampshire Route 33. Boston is 55 miles (89 km) to the south, Portland, Maine, is 53 miles (85 km) to the northeast, and Dover, New Hampshire, is 13 miles (21 km) to the northwest.

Climate

Portsmouth has a humid continental climate in spite of its maritime position, due to prevailing inland winds. Summers are moderately warm with winter days averaging around the freezing point, but with cold nights bringing it below the required −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm to have a humid continental climate. With high year-round precipitation, the cold winters can often be very snowy and summers wet.

Climate data for Portsmouth
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 32
(0)
32
(0)
41
(5)
52
(11)
64
(18)
73
(23)
79
(26)
77
(25)
70
(21)
59
(15)
48
(9)
34
(1)
54
(12)
Daily mean °F (°C) 25
(-4)
25
(-4)
34
(1)
45
(7)
54
(12)
64
(18)
70
(21)
68
(20)
61
(16)
50
(10)
41
(5)
28
(-2)
46
(8)
Average low °F (°C) 16
(-9)
18
(-8)
27
(-3)
36
(2)
45
(7)
55
(13)
61
(16)
59
(15)
52
(11)
41
(5)
34
(1)
21
(-6)
37
(3)
Rainfall inches (mm) 3.66
(93)
3.86
(98)
3.35
(85)
3.23
(82)
3.23
(82)
2.83
(72)
3.11
(79)
2.24
(57)
3.7
(94)
3.66
(93)
5.08
(129)
4.45
(113)
42.32
(1,075)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 4,720
1800 5,339 13.1%
1810 6,934 29.9%
1820 7,327 5.7%
1830 8,026 9.5%
1840 7,887 −1.7%
1850 9,738 23.5%
1860 9,335 −4.1%
1870 9,211 −1.3%
1880 9,690 5.2%
1890 9,827 1.4%
1900 10,637 8.2%
1910 11,269 5.9%
1920 13,569 20.4%
1930 14,495 6.8%
1940 14,821 2.2%
1950 18,830 27.0%
1960 26,900 42.9%
1970 25,717 −4.4%
1980 26,254 2.1%
1990 25,925 −1.3%
2000 20,784 −19.8%
2010 21,233 2.2%
Est. 2015 21,530 1.4%
sources:

As of the census of 2010, there were 21,233 people, 10,014 households, and 4,736 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,361.1 people per square mile (524.4/km²). There were 10,625 housing units at an average density of 681.1 per square mile (262.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.5% White, 1.7% African American, 0.2% Native American, 3.5% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.7% some other race, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.

There were 10,014 households, out of which 20.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were headed by married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.7% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.8% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03, and the average family size was 2.75.

In the city, the population was spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.3 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.

For the period 2010-14, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $67,679, and the median income for a family was $90,208. Male full-time workers had a median income of $58,441 versus $45,683 for females. The per capita income for the city was $42,724. About 4.0% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.9% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest

Memorial Bridge Portsmouth, NH
Memorial Bridge
North Church (Portsmouth, NH) 2014 IMG 2668
Historic North Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in downtown Portsmouth; the steeple is visible throughout the community.
Street musicians in Portsmouth, NH IMG 2667
Street musicians perform across from North Church (July 2014)
  • USS Albacore Museum & Park – a museum featuring the USS Albacore, a U.S. Navy submarine used for testing, which was decommissioned in 1972 and moved to the park in 1985. The submarine is open for tours.
  • Buckminster House – built in 1725, formerly a funeral parlor.
  • Discover Portsmouth Center – visitor center, gallery, gift shop, John Paul Jones Historic House, walking tours, short film on the history of Portsmouth; operated by the Portsmouth Historical Society.
  • The Music Hall – a 900-seat theater originally opened in 1878. The theater is now run by a non-profit organization and currently under restoration. The venue hosts musical acts, theater, dance and cinema.
  • North Church – historic church, the steeple of which is visible from most of Portsmouth
  • New Hampshire Theatre Project – founded in 1986, a non-profit theater organization producing contemporary and classical works, and offering educational programs.
  • Pontine Theatre – produces original theater works based on the history, culture and literature of New England at their 50-seat black box venue.
  • The Player's Ring Theater – a black-box theater that produces original work from local playwrights.
  • Portsmouth Athenæum – a private membership library, museum and art gallery open to the public at certain times.
  • Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse – first established in 1771, the current structure was built in 1878 and is open for monthly tours from May through September.
  • Prescott Park Arts Festival – summer entertainments in Portsmouth's waterfront park.
  • Seacoast Repertory Theatre – founded in 1988, a professional theater troupe.
  • Strawbery Banke Museum – a neighborhood featuring several dozen restored historic homes in Colonial, Georgian and Federal styles of architecture. The site of one of Portsmouth's earliest settlements.
  • Whaling Wall – Painting of Isles of Shoals Humpbacks created by Robert Wyland, situated on the back of Cabot House Furniture. It is in disrepair, and restoration has not been allowed by the owners of Cabot Furniture.
  • Four public sculptures carved by Cabot Lyford stand in the city, including "The Whale" and "My Mother the Wind," a seven-ton blank granite statue which was installed on Portsmouth's waterfront in 1975.

Historic house museums

  • Richard Jackson House (1664)
  • John Paul Jones House (1758)
  • Governor John Langdon House (1784)
  • Tobias Lear House (1740)
  • Moffatt-Ladd House (1763)
  • Rundlet-May House (1807)
  • MacPheadris-Warner House (1716)
  • Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion (1750)
  • Wentworth-Gardner House (also called Wentworth House) (1760)

Development

The city announced construction of a 600-space garage, the city's second downtown parking garage, to begin in April or May 2017. The $1.9 million project is being built on a new street called Deer Street Extension and is expected to be completed by September 2018.

Sister cities

Portsmouth has six Sister Cities and one Friendship City as designated by Sister Cities International

Friendship city:

Images for kids


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