In 1958, the city of Portsmouth was finalizing plans to raze this neighborhood (which was settled in 1653) to make way for urban renewal. A group of local citizens resisted the move, and they prevailed, establishing an outdoor history museum that’s become one of the largest and best in New England. Here you get a true feel for the late 17th-century colonial period. Today the attraction consists of 10 acres and more than 40 historic buildings, some restored with period furnishings, situated around a big open lawn (which was once an inlet); it all has a settled, picturesque quality. One ticket gains you entry to about half the buildings—the other half, you can only view from outside. Coopers, boat builders, and potters demonstrate colonial crafts, and the Drisco House is two exhibits of Americana within one house: 1790s Portsmouth and 1950s Portsmouth. While the Banke employs staffers to assume the character of historical residents, the emphasis is more on the buildings, architecture, and history than on the costumed reenactors—as it should be.