Portobello developed as a small suburb south of the city of Dublin beginning in the 18th century, with Richmond St. as its epicenter. Over the course of the next couple hundred years, it was completely developed as an area of private estates and open land gave way to solid red-bricked Victorian buildings for the middle class residents (on the larger streets), and terraced housing facing the Grand Canal for the poorer and working classes. Along with a population influx, ushered by a demand for housing and immigrants entering the neighborhood, housing development in Portobello became a necessity. Stout brick buildings could be erected quickly and filled with tenants at a relatively low cost. Today, an abandoned and dilapidated hospital building is closed off to the public, but stands as a remnant of the neighborhood’s more impoverished demographic.
A large majority of the residential buildings in Portobello fall into the categories of late Georgian (as seen on Lennox Street) and Victorian brick homes. The Industrial Revolution brought about technological advances that changed the appearance of many houses in this period. Built of red and sometimes polychromatic machine-made brick, (often with moulded detailing such as in the archways), these homes catered to a growing middle class and professional demographic. Most of these buildings are only one story, but more grand Victorians (such as the homes we found on Harrington street) rise to two or three stories with bay windows. We found wonderful examples of the Georgian townhouse when we visited the Bretzel Bakery on Lennox St, with colorfully painted doors and iron gates.