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Floral Arch on Water Street in 1900 Presents
Historic Portsmouth #365

Back in the day big city celebrations were often marked by giant floral and wooden arches placed at strategic entry points to the city. The effect, as seen here on Water Street (Marcy) in 1900 was grand indeed. (Continued below with photos)


I suppose we echo that tradition with balloons, but why not return to the classical designs and materials? Would fire laws prevent it? History archives are filled with images of arches – some ornate, others beautifully simple. These were rapidly constructed on Market, Daniel, Congress, Middle, State, and other streets where parades still travel today. The “green” arch shown here was one of many visible in photographs from the anniversary celebration of the sea battle between the USS Kearsage (built at Portsmouth Harbor) and the Confederate commerce raider Alabama. The three-day festival was among the many “homecoming” tourist attractions that began with the city’s bicentennial an 1823 and continue today. A 5,000-man parade and several banquets were the highlight of this event. You can see more photos and many artifacts of the USS Kearsage on display at the Portsmouth Athenaeum every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (1-4 pm) in the ongoing exhibit “Fire on the Water.” (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)






Photo (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum on


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Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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