Bar Harbor is home to the largest parts of Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Mountain and is Mount Desert Island’s largest community.
In the late 1800s, it was New England’s top summer resort, home to Millionaires’ Row, a line of summer”cottages” built for the rich and famous of the time including Rockefeller, Ford, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor and Morgan. The “cottages” were usually 50-room mansions with servants' quarters, stables, and guest houses.
By 1870, Bar Harbor boasted over a dozen hotels; some required that reservations be done two years in advance. In 1881, David Rodick expanded Rodick House from 275 to 400 rooms making it the largest hotel in North America with a dining room serving 1000 guests, and a 500-foot x 25-foot wide porch running along the front and one side of the hotel. The hotel’s main attractions were the lobby (Fish Pond) and the porch where young ladies were said to go “fishing” for husbands.
For nearly 40 years, Bar Harbor remained a summer playground for the wealthy. Then came the Great Depression and World War II followed by The Great Fire of 1947.
In mid-October 1947, after Maine had a severe drought, sparks at a cranberry bog near Salisbury Cove ignited a wildfire that intensified over 10 days. It was not declared out until mid-November. Over 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park were destroyed. The fire claimed 67 of 222 cottages on Millionaires' Row; five historic grand hotels were destroyed, and 170 of 667 permanent homes, but spared the town's business district. Few of the grand cottages were rebuilt and many of the summer people did not return.
Bar Harbor rebounded and today is a vacation destination for travelers worldwide who get there by land, air, and water.
Bar Harbor by night is a colorful and bustling community. Shops and restaurants remain open late most nights during the busy tourist season from May through October.
Cruise ships anchor in deep water outside in the harbor from May through October. This colorful ship was viewed last week. Fishing boats, water taxis and a 4-master schooner (Margaret Todd) were in the harbor at Bar Harbor.