Once a village, it was settled by English immigrants in 1630 and named Piscataqua, after the Abenaki name for the river, and later renamed Strawberry Banke, after the many wild strawberries growing beside the Piscataqua River. Strategically located for trade between upstream industries and mercantile interests abroad, the port prospered. Fishing, lumber and shipbuilding were principal trades in the region. Slaves were imported as early as 1645 and formed an integral part of building the city's prosperity. Portsmouth was part of the Triangle Trade* and reaped significant profits from slavery.
When incorporated in 1653, it was named Portsmouth in honor of the colony's founder, John Mason. Mason was the former captain of the port of Portsmouth, England, in the county of Hampshire, for which New Hampshire is named. Portsmouth was named the colonial capital in 1679. Portsmouth boasts a historic seaport and is a popular summer tourist destination especially in summer months.
Market Square in the heart of Portsmouth’s dining and shopping district with many brick buildings built 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.
With the protection of a Historic District Commission, much of the city's irreplaceable architectural legacy survives. It draws tourists and artists, who each summer throng the cafes, restaurants and shops around Market Square. In 2008, Portsmouth was named one of the “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
* The Triangular Trade refers to a slave route. Its name is from the three routes that formed a triangle. The first route carried fish, lumber, and other goods from New England to the West Indies. In the West Indies, ships picked up sugar and molasses which is a dark brown syrup product made from sugar cane. This was used to make rum. From the West Indies, merchants carried the rum, along with guns, gunpowder, and tools to West Africa. Here, they traded these items for slaves, then took the slaves to the West Indies where they were sold. Traders would take the profits and buy more molasses.Portsmouth offers a wide choice of restaurants, bakeries, and shops, many with distinctive hanging signs. Here are a few . . .
Easy to see what’s offered in these places . . .
Some signs were round . . .
Some were square or rectangular . . .
Still overs were oval-shaped . . .