Historical and old photos of Porsgrunn, Vestfold og Telemark
Porsgrunn has been an important harbor town in the Grenland area since the late 16th century. In 1653, the Customs House was moved further down the Telemarksvassdraget from Skien to Porsgrunn mainly because industrial waste such as sawdust and mud made the river too shallow to allow boats to go any further up the river. Moving the Custom House to Porsgrunn added to the flourishing harbor activity and Porsgrunn became a thriving market town.
In the 18th century, it was the home of some of Norway's most influential families at the time, such as the Aalls, Cappelens, Løvenskiolds, and Deichmans. Also in this period, Porsgrunn was considered the cultural centre of Norway. On the ecclesiastical side, Porsgrunn was separated from the ancient rural parishes of Eidanger, Solum, and Gjerpen in 1764 to become a prestegjeld with its own minister. Churches within the Porsgrunn prestegjeld include Østre Porsgrunn Church and Vestre Porsgrunn Church. The city was granted limited city status in 1807, but this was expanded to full city status in 1842.
Porsgrunn was once home to Skomvær, the country's largest sailing ship. In 1985, the sculpture Amphitrite, the wave and the sea birds was unveiled in Porsgrunn. The sculpture, which is one of Jørleif Uthaug's best known works, has a nautical theme in honor of Porsgrunn's maritime history.