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York, Maine
Company Store, Stonewall Kitchen, York ME.
Company Store, Stonewall Kitchen, York ME.
Official seal of York, Maine
Seal
York, Maine is located in Maine
York, Maine
York, Maine
Location in Maine
Country United States
State Maine
County York
Incorporated 1652
Area
 • Total 131.78 sq mi (341.3 km2)
 • Land 54.67 sq mi (141.6 km2)
 • Water 77.11 sq mi (199.7 km2)
Elevation
190 ft (60 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 13,723
 • Density 104.136/sq mi (40.2070/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
03909
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-87985
GNIS feature ID 0582832

York is a town in York County, Maine, United States, near the southern tip of the state. The population in the 2020 census was 13,723. Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Maine, York is a well-known summer resort town. It is home to three 18-hole golf clubs, four sandy beaches, and Mount Agamenticus. It includes the villages of York Village, York Harbor, York Beach and Cape Neddick.

York is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.

History

The Old Gaol, York Village, ME
The Old Gaol (Jail) in 1901

First settled by Europeans in 1624, the plantation was originally called Agamenticus, the Abenaki term for the York River. In 1638, settlers changed the name to Bristol after Bristol, England, from which they had immigrated. Envisioning a great city arising from the wilderness, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, lord proprietor of Maine under the Plymouth patent, named the capital of his province Gorgeana. In 1642, by charter of King Charles I, Gorgeana became the first incorporated city in America.

Following Gorges' death, the Massachusetts Bay Company claimed his dominion. In 1652, York, Massachusetts, was incorporated from a portion of Gorgeana, making it the second oldest town in Maine after Kittery, incorporated two years earlier. It was named for York, England. But control of the region was contested between New England and New France, which incited Native Americans to attack English settlements throughout the French and Indian Wars.

Sewall's Map of York, Maine, 1794
Sewall's Map of York, Maine, 1794

The first Congregational church of York was organized in 1672, by Rev. Shubael Dummer, the son of Richard Dummer and uncle to William Dummer, who became acting governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

During King William's War, York was destroyed in the Candlemas Massacre of 1692. During the raid by the Abenakis, Dummer was shot at his own front door. About 50 others were slain and near 100 carried away captive, among them Dummer's wife, Lydia, and their son, where "through snows and hardships among those dragons of the desert she also quickly died"; nothing further was heard of the boy.

The final local Indian attack occurred at the Cape Neddick area during Dummer's War in 1723. Hostilities diminished with the French defeat at the Siege of Louisbourg (1745), and ceased altogether with the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Several famous American authors have been known to spend their summer months in York, including Mark Twain.

Trading center

As provincial capital and site of the Royal Gaol (Jail), York prospered. Numerous wharves and warehouses serviced trade with the West Indies. Agricultural products and lumber were shipped in exchange for sugar, molasses and other commodities. One notable merchant was John Hancock, whose establishment is now a museum. Following the Revolution, however, President Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807 crippled trade. York, bereft of status as capitol, would not again be prosperous until after the Civil War, when its sea breezes and colonial charm, including old homes like the John Sedgley Homestead, attracted tourists.

Present day

Like Bar Harbor and Newport, Rhode Island, York became a fashionable summer resort, and retains many distinctive examples of Gilded Age architecture, particularly in the Shingle Style. A cluster of historic buildings in the center of York Village are maintained as museums by the Old York Historical Society.

The Yorks

  • York Village — including the historic structures and upscale shops
  • York Harbor — with a number of elegant inns, historic homes and large estates
  • York Beach — with popular attractions such as arcades, souvenir shops and stores
  • Cape Neddick — mainly residences

During summer months, summer residents and tourists (chiefly families) throng Short Sands Beach, which is in the district of York Beach itself, as well as Long Sands Beach, the town's longest with more than a mile of sand stretching between York Beach and York Harbor. Dozens of five-star hotels and other accommodations operate in the York Beach area, although most close after summer.

Many spots throughout The Yorks have picturesque views of the famous Cape Neddick Light at Nubble Rock, which has figured in both artists' work and souvenirs of the Maine coast. Visible in clear weather is the 133 foot (40 meter) tall Boon Island Light on Boon Island, located 6.2 miles (10.0 km) off York. Old-fashioned restaurants, like the Goldenrod, maintain the historic character of the York Beach area.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 131.78 square miles (341.31 km2), of which, 54.67 square miles (141.59 km2) of it is land and 77.11 square miles (199.71 km2) is water. The York watershed drains into the York River. The highest point in town is Mount Agamenticus, with an elevation of 692 feet (211 meters) above sea level. An automobile road travels to the summit, where miles of hiking, biking and horse-riding trails are available. The lowest point in town is sea level, along the coastline with the Atlantic Ocean. York lies about 44 miles (71 km) south of Portland, 98 miles (158 km) south of Augusta, and 65 miles (105 km) north of Boston.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,900
1800 2,776 −4.3%
1810 3,046 9.7%
1820 3,224 5.8%
1830 3,485 8.1%
1840 3,111 −10.7%
1850 2,980 −4.2%
1860 2,825 −5.2%
1870 2,654 −6.1%
1880 2,463 −7.2%
1890 2,444 −0.8%
1900 2,668 9.2%
1910 2,802 5.0%
1920 2,727 −2.7%
1930 2,532 −7.2%
1940 3,283 29.7%
1950 3,256 −0.8%
1960 4,663 43.2%
1970 5,690 22.0%
1980 8,465 48.8%
1990 9,818 16.0%
2000 12,854 30.9%
2010 12,529 −2.5%
2020 13,723 9.5%
sources:
The Square, York Beach, ME
The Square, Short Sands Beach at York Beach, c. 1915
See Cape Neddick, Maine and York Harbor, Maine for demographic information compiled for the respective villages.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,529 people, 5,440 households, and 3,601 families living in the town. The population density was 229.2 inhabitants per square mile (88.5/km2). There were 8,649 housing units at an average density of 158.2 per square mile (61.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.6% White, 0.4% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population.

There were 5,440 households, of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.8% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.1% 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 2.82.

The median age in the town was 49.3 years. 20.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 4.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.1% were from 25 to 44; 36.3% were from 45 to 64; and 21.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.

Sites of interest

Education

Passaconaway Inn, York Cliffs, ME
Passaconaway Inn in York Cliffs c. 1910

York School Department receives the largest portion (69%) of the town's budget. The town of York supports 2,000 students in four schools. Village Elementary School serves grades K–1. Coastal Ridge Elementary School provides education for grades 2–4. York Middle School serves students in grades 5–8, and York High School serves students in grades 9–12. Adult education is also available to York residents.

Notable people

  • Spencer Albee, musician
  • Emerson Baker, historian, author
  • Christopher Cassidy, NASA astronaut
  • Mandy Cronin, ice hockey executive
  • Richard Foerster, poet
  • Tim Janis, musician
  • Barbara Marois, Olympic field hockey player
  • Rufus McIntire, US congressman
  • Jeremiah Moulton, colonial officer, judge
  • David N. Ott, state representative, lawyer
  • Alvah T. Ramsdell, architect
  • Neil Rolde, state legislator and Maine historian
  • Duncan Robinson (basketball), basketball player for the Miami Heat
  • May Sarton, writer
  • George Thatcher, state judge, US congressman
  • Mark Twain, writer (summer resident)
  • Windol Weaver, state legislator

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