A guide to Portland Maine’s West Bayside neighborhood

The West Bayside neighborhood in Portland is bordered by Cumberland Avenue to the South, Forest Avenue to the West and the Franklin Street Arterial (or just Franklin Street, if you prefer) to the West.  To the north, it is penned in by 295, running just alongside Marginal Way.  It is an amalgamation of cobblestone alleyways, large business parks, the hipster, the homeless, the posh, and the working class.  In many ways, it is where all of Portland intersects, but in other ways, it is abandoned.   And most of all, like many parts of Portland, it is ever changing.

Portland is a foodie town, and West Bayside is no different.  At Miss Portland Diner (140 Marginal Way) is an old-school, classic diner that continually receives top marks.

There’s also fun to be found in West Bayside.  First and foremost is Bubba’s Sulky Lounge (92 Portland Street), which is easily one of the most bizarrely entertaining dance spots in New England.  Boasting a light up dance floor, a front room decorated with funky bric-a-brac, and well attended theme nights, Bubba’s delivers the entertainment.  Additionally, Bayside Bowl (58 Alder Street) hosts twelve hardwood lanes, and a big bar area with a stage, lending weekend nights there more of a nightclub feel. 

However, the neighborhood is also home to many of the main social services for Portland.  The Preble Street Shelter is here, one of the biggest resources for Portland’s population of homeless and poor.  The Department of Health and Human Services is in West Bayside, crouched somewhat accusingly between Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  Salvation Army and Goodwill have major offices here.  There is a Community Counseling Center that provides counseling and Case Management Services and a large Boys and Girls Club opens its doors to Cumberland Ave.  Walking through many pockets of West Bayside during the day can provide an open window to many of the problems Portland is facing, which are, of course, many of the problems faced by most urban areas.

For many, West Bayside is a stop along the way. There is the aforementioned Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and large fitness centers like the Maine Rock Gym and Planet Fitness.  One of the largest Post Offices in Portland is at 125 Forest Avenue.  There’s a Planet Dog, an AT&T Store, and several other big name retailers on Marginal Way that many Portland city dwellers or commuters may frequent on their way to and fro.

West Bayside is developing though, and it does seem to be mostly for the better.   Some new apartment complexes are bringing more professionals and families to live in the area, like Bay Bay Apartments on Cumberland Avenue. 

t been realized yet, it seems to be in the works, along with a another large residential and commercial complex that could bring many more people to the area, and finally connect the trail to places like Back Cove and East End Beach. Until then, West Bayside is still a place worth exploring.