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Biddeford, Maine facts for kids

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Biddeford, Maine
City Hall
City Hall
Official seal of Biddeford, Maine
Twin City
"A Proud City Rising Where the Water Falls"
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Country United States
State Maine
County York
First Landing 1616
Settled 1631
Incorporated (town) July 5, 1653
Incorporated (city) February 10, 1855
 • Total 59.08 sq mi (153.02 km2)
 • Land 30.09 sq mi (77.92 km2)
 • Water 29.00 sq mi (75.10 km2)
69 ft (21 m)
 • Total 22,552
 • Density 749.61/sq mi (289.42/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-04860
GNIS feature ID 0562119

Biddeford is a city in York County, Maine, United States. It is the principal commercial center of York County. Its population was 22,552 at the 2020 census. Twin city of Saco, Biddeford includes the resort community of Biddeford Pool, Fortunes Rocks, and Granite Point. The town is the site of the University of New England and the annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival. First visited by Europeans in 1616, it is the site of one of the earliest European settlements in the United States.

Biddeford is a principal population center of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan statistical area.


Biddeford Maine Town Hall circa 1855 larger image cropped
Town hall circa 1855.
Main Street
Lower Main Street

Abenaki Indians, whose main village was upriver at Pequawket (now Fryeburg), once hunted and fished in the area. The first European to settle at Biddeford was physician Richard Vines in the winter of 1616-17 at Winter Harbor, as he called Biddeford Pool. This 1616 landing by a European predates the Mayflower landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (located 100 miles to the south) by approximately four years, a fact that is overlooked in much of New England lore. In 1630, the Plymouth Company granted the land south of the River Swanckadocke to Dr. Vines and John Oldham. In 1653, the town included both sides of the river, and was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.

Roger Spencer was granted the right in 1653 to build the first sawmill. Lumber and fish became the community's chief exports. In 1659, Major William Phillips of Boston became a proprietor, and constructed a garrison and mill at the falls. During King Philip's War in 1675, the town was attacked by Indians. Settlers withdrew to Winter Harbor for safety, and their homes and mills upriver at the falls were burned. In 1693, a stone fort was built a short distance below the falls, but it was captured by the Indians in 1703, when 11 colonists were killed and 24 taken captive to Canada. In 1688, Fort Mary was built near the entrance to Biddeford Pool. The town was reorganized in 1718 as Biddeford, after Bideford, a town in Devon, England, from which some settlers had emigrated. After the Fall of Quebec in 1759, hostilities with the natives ceased.

In 1762, the land northeast of the river was set off as Pepperellborough, which in 1805 was renamed Saco. The first bridge to Saco was built in 1767. The river divides into two falls that drop 40 feet (12 m), providing water power for mills. Factories were established to make boots and shoes. The developing mill town also had granite quarries and brickyards, in addition to lumber and grain mills. Major textile manufacturing facilities were constructed along the riverbanks, including the Laconia Company in 1845, and the Pepperell Company in 1850. Biddeford was incorporated as a city in 1855.

The mills attracted waves of immigrants, including the Irish, Albanians, and French-Canadians from the province of Quebec. At one time the textile mills employed as many as 12,000 people, but as happened elsewhere, the industry entered a long period of decline. As of 2009, the last remaining textile company in the city, WestPoint Home, closed. The property occupying the mill has been sold and is being redeveloped into housing and new businesses. The last log drive down the Saco River was in 1943, with the last log sawn in 1948. Biddeford's name is engraved near the top level of The Pilgrim Monument, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, along with the names of some of the oldest cities and towns in New England.

During World War II the Biddeford Pool Military Reservation was established from 1942 to 1945, on what is now the Abenakee Golf Club. It had four circular concrete platforms called "Panama mounts" for 155 mm guns, three of which remain today.


Tugboat Hersey
Tugboat Hersey tied up at Bragdon's Wharf, Biddeford, 1912

Biddeford is located at 43°28′27″N 70°26′46″W / 43.47417°N 70.44611°W / 43.47417; -70.44611 (43.474111, -70.446157). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 59.08 square miles (153.02 km2), of which 30.09 square miles (77.93 km2) is land and 28.99 square miles (75.08 km2) is water. Situated beside Saco Bay on the Gulf of Maine, Biddeford is drained by the Little River and the Saco River. The city proper has very diverse geography, from inland rolling hillside, to urban settlement, to coastal sprawl.

The city is crossed by Interstate 95, U. S. Route 1, and state routes 5, 9, 111, and 208. It is bordered by the city of Saco to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the towns of Dayton and Lyman to the west, and the towns of Kennebunkport and Arundel to the south. The Little River forms a portion of the border between Biddeford and the Goose Rocks neighborhood of Kennebunkport, in Biddeford's most southerly region (Granite Point). East Point, located on the peninsula of Biddeford Pool, is the easternmost point in York County.

Timber Island, the most southerly point in the City of Biddeford, lies in Goosefare Bay at the mouth of the Little River, and is accessible at low tide from Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport. The island and most of adjacent Timber Point became part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in December 2011.

The city has almost 15 miles (24 km) of frontage along the Saco River, and an Atlantic coastline on which the seaside neighborhoods of Hills Beach, Biddeford Pool, Fortunes Rocks and Granite Point are located. Biddeford includes Wood Island Light, a lighthouse located about a mile offshore from Biddeford Pool.

While Maine (as a whole) is politically and colloquially known as part of Northern New England, Biddeford's geography technically places it more in line with Central New England.

Distances from Biddeford to regional cities:


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Biddeford has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,018
1800 1,296 27.3%
1810 1,563 20.6%
1820 1,738 11.2%
1830 1,995 14.8%
1840 2,574 29.0%
1850 6,095 136.8%
1860 9,349 53.4%
1870 10,282 10.0%
1880 12,651 23.0%
1890 14,443 14.2%
1900 16,145 11.8%
1910 17,079 5.8%
1920 18,008 5.4%
1930 17,633 −2.1%
1940 19,790 12.2%
1950 20,836 5.3%
1960 19,255 −7.6%
1970 19,983 3.8%
1980 19,638 −1.7%
1990 20,710 5.5%
2000 20,942 1.1%
2010 21,277 1.6%
2020 22,552 6.0%

2010 census

At the 2010 census, there were 21,277 people, 8,598 households and 4,972 families residing in the city. The population density was 707.1 inhabitants per square mile (273.0/km2). There were 10,064 housing units at an average density of 334.5 per square mile (129.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.8% White, 1.0% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 8,598 households, of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.4% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 38.3 years. 18.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 15.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.3% were from 25 to 44; 26.1% were from 45 to 64; and 15.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

Arts and culture


Anchoring Biddeford's historic downtown are McArthur Public Library and Biddeford's City Theater. Biddeford has a number of properties and two Historic Districts entered into the National Register of Historic Places. The newest addition is the Main Street Historic District, entered into the National Register on December 24, 2009. Other downtown National Register properties include the Biddeford-Saco Mills Historic District, Biddeford City Hall, Dudley Block and the U.S. Post Office. National Register properties outside of downtown and in the Biddeford Pool area include the John Tarr House, First Parish Meetinghouse, Fletcher's Neck Lifesaving Station and the James Montgomery Flagg House.

In popular culture

The first part of Black Mirror II, a 2009 PC adventure game developed by Cranberry Production, takes place in Biddeford.

Sites of interest


Biddeford is one of Maine's fastest-growing commercial centers, due to its close proximity to the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire and to northern Massachusetts. In recent years, strip malls have developed along the State Route 111 corridor. In late 2006, a 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) shopping center known as The Shops at Biddeford Crossing opened, with 20 stores and five restaurants.

Recent interest in revitalizing the downtown area has brought new life to the old mills. The North Dam Mill is one example of this movement offering retail stores, art studios, cultural events, and upscale housing.

Biddeford is home to large institutions including Southern Maine Health Care and the University of New England, a fast-growing school located along the coast which includes Maine's only medical school, the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Telecommunications company is headquartered in the city. The city also possesses a wide array of community facilities including public beaches, an ice arena, a full-service YMCA, and one school which has been recently recognized as a National School of Excellence.



Biddeford was the eastern terminus of the now-defunct New England Interstate Route 11, which ended in Manchester, Vermont. State Route 111, which travels through Biddeford's main commercial corridor, is now numbered in Old Route 11's place. Biddeford Municipal Airport is located two miles south of the central business district. The Saco Transportation Center Amtrak stop serves downtown Biddeford.

Local bus service in Biddeford is provided by Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Transit, connecting the city to destinations in Saco and Portland.

Notable people

  • Cajetan J. B. Baumann O.F.B., AIA, (1899–1969), first member of a religious order to be named to the American Institute of Architects earned an honorary degree from St. Francis College in Biddeford
  • Robert Caret, current Chancellor Emeritus of The University System of Maryland and formerly President of the University of Massachusetts
  • Ovid Demaris, author
  • Susan Deschambault, State Senator
  • Brian Dumoulin, NHL Hockey Player
  • Ryan Fecteau, State Representative, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives
  • Milo,American rapper and producer, now known as R.A.P. Ferreira
  • John R. French, U.S. Congressman
  • Cor van den Heuvel, poet and editor
  • Mark Langdon Hill, U.S. Congressman
  • Louis B. Lausier, mayor (1941–1955) and candidate for Governor (1948)
  • Moses Macdonald, U.S. Congressman
  • Hilary F. Mahaney, football player
  • Prentiss Mellen, U.S. Senator and jurist
  • Thomas Bird Mosher, publisher
  • Wallace H. Nutting, Four-star general and mayor of Biddeford
  • Bernard Osher, businessman and philanthropist
  • Freddy Parent, professional baseball player
  • Henry B. Quinby, physician and 52nd Governor of New Hampshire
  • Daniel E. Somes, U.S. Congressman and mayor
  • Charles A. Shaw, mayor (1865–1866), inventor and entrepreneur
  • Bettina Steinke, muralist, was born here in 1913
  • James Sullivan, jurist and the seventh Governor of Massachusetts
  • George Thatcher, judge and congressman
  • Joanne Twomey, state representative (1998–2006) and mayor (2006–2011)
  • Joan Wasser, singer and songwriter
  • Amos Whitney, engineer and inventor
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