The evolutionary changes in pulsation period for the Cepheid Polaris are reinvestigated using archival observational material (radial velocities, photometry, and eye observations) over the interval 1844 to the present, including new photometry for the star obtained in 2003-2004. The star's pulsation period increased at a rate of 4.5 s yr-1 during that interval, with the exception of a brief hiatus between 1963 and 1966, when it suddenly decreased, possibly as a result of a brief reduction in average stellar radius amounting to -0.055%. At roughly the same time, the pulsation amplitude of Polaris underwent a marked change. Prior to 1963 the V amplitude was in excess of about 0.1 mag, possibly decreasing at a rate of 0.019 mag century-1. Following the hiatus of 1963-1966, the pulsation amplitude underwent a sharp decline and now appears to be erratic on a cycle-to-cycle basis, always smaller than 0.05 mag. The rapid rate of period increase for Polaris is consistent with a first crossing of the Cepheid instability strip, while the hiatus of 1963-1966 and sudden decrease in pulsation amplitude thereafter suggest that the star may have left the instability strip for first crossers at that time, leaving it near the center of the instability strip for Cepheids in higher crossing modes.