Jessica Grenz, left, of South Dakota and her sister, Julia Grenz, of Missouri, pose for self-portrait while waiting to set sail on a schooner at the Maine State Pier. The chilly evenings that have arrived with the unofficial end of summer prompted the sisters to buy souvenir sweatshirts. Buy Photo
The captain of a boat buries his head in his hands as his friends give him grief after they were forced to tie up next to the Maine State Pier when the boat developed engine troubles during a Labor Day cruise on Casco Bay. Their party continued while the engine cooled down, then they headed across the river to their marina in South Portland. Buy Photo
PORTLAND, Maine — It’s just a 500-foot-long slab of concrete set atop old wooden pilings, but for anyone looking for public access to the city’s downtown working waterfront, it is the place to go.
From anglers to artists, tourists to transients, the public section of the Maine State Pier attracts a constant flow of visitors.
Over the years, plans to redevelop the 89-year-old pier have come and gone like the fishing boats passing by. Blueprints for a large-scale park and business complex have been put away.
For now, the old Bath Iron Works building still obstructs the view of Munjoy Hill. If you walk out to the end of the pier, where the mackerel fishermen gather, you can see Fort Gorges and the islands of Casco Bay. And across the Fore River stand the huge oil tanks of South Portland, a not-so-pretty reminder that this is still a commercial harbor.