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Portsmouth Timeline Mural
First Night Portsmouth 2001
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1st nite photo We're the first to agree, despite hundreds of history articles online, that local history can be boring. We try to spice it up, flesh it out, make it live. But people love pictures. So what a pleasure to walk through Market Square in the freezing dark cold and discover a giant wall of clever illustrations showing the history of Portsmouth. The crowds at First Night 2001 loved it, analyzing each piece of the mural and reading the captions - all drawn from our Portsmouth Timeline, created in cooperation with Pro Portsmouth, the people who sponsor the New Year's Eve festival.

If you weren't there, you missed it. But through the miracle of crummy digital cameras, we bring you a sample of just a few of the many panels that filled hundreds of square feet of illustrated canvas. It was as hard to shoot these pictures in the dark as it was to snap the ice sculpture seen here, so you'll have to use your imagination. The pieces of the mural were assembled back to back outside a wooden structure that included floodlights. The whole thing wobbled strangely in the wind just a few yards from the North Church in downtown Portsmouth while thousands of visitors swarmed around. Our kudos to muralist Leenn Willey who coordinated the epic work of a dozen local artists.

You'll see Wentworth by the Sea, early explorers, runaway slave Ona Staines, local streetwalkers, Washington, the Black Heritage Trail and more. Our favorite is the picture of former mayor Eileen Foley, aged five, snipping the ribbon to open the Memorial Bridge in 1923. We also love the illustration of John Paul Jones riding out of Portsmouth on his horse "Ranger" that the artist later realized as actually a ship and not a horse. History lives! We love them all. A great event we were proud to sponsor. - JDR

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Visitors walk down the Portsmouth Timeline Mural on New Year's Eve 2001

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We don't know that Martin Pring ever disembarked to meet the locals, but we don't know he didn't.

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Pro Portsmouth volunteer crew builds the temporary mural on Pleasant Street, weighing it down against the frigid wind with sand bags.

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Wentworth-by-the-Sea didn't look like this in 1874, but it did by the Jones Era two decades later and looks much the same today.

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A very postmodern George Washington visits Portsmouth.


Read "400 Years in Market Square"
Visit Portsmouth Timeline website

Copyright © 2001 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved
Photos by J. Dennis Robinson

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