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Belfast, Maine
—  City  —
Belfast Bay

Seal
Location of Belfast in Maine
Coordinates: 44°25′33″N 69°0′42″W / 44.42583°N 69.01167°W / 44.42583; -69.01167Coordinates: 44°25′33″N 69°0′42″W / 44.42583°N 69.01167°W / 44.42583; -69.01167
Country United States
State Maine
County Waldo
Incorporated (town) June 29, 1773
Incorporated (city) 1853
Area
 - Total 38.4 sq mi (99.3 km2)
 - Land 34.0 sq mi (88.2 km2)
 - Water 4.3 sq mi (11.2 km2)
Elevation 85 ft (26 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 6,381
 Density 187.5/sq mi (72.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04915
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-03950
GNIS feature ID 0562011
Website www.cityofbelfast.org

Belfast is a city in Waldo County, Maine, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,381. Located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River on Penobscot Bay, Belfast is the county seat of Waldo County.[1] The seaport has a wealth of antique architecture in several historic districts, and remains popular with tourists.

Contents

History

Waterfront in 1905, showing some of the city's shipyards

The area was once territory of the Penobscot tribe of Abenaki Indians, which each summer visited the seashore to hunt for fish, shellfish and seafowl. In 1630, it became part of the Muscongus Patent, which granted rights for English trading posts with the Indians, especially for the lucrative fur trade. About 1720, General Samuel Waldo of Boston bought the Muscongus Patent, which had evolved into outright ownership of the land, and was thereafter known as the Waldo Patent.

Waldo died in 1759, and his heirs would sell the plantation of Passagassawakeag (named after its river) to 35 Scots-Irish proprietors from Londonderry, New Hampshire. Renamed Belfast after Belfast, Northern Ireland, it was first settled in 1770, and incorporated as a town in 1773. The village was mostly abandoned during the Revolution while British forces occupied Bagaduce (now Castine).[2] The British military burned Belfast in 1779, then held it for 5 days in September 1814 during the War of 1812.

Following the war, the seaport rebuilt and thrived. It was a port of entry, and designated county seat of Waldo County in 1827, although land would be set off in 1845 to form part of Searsport. Belfast was incorporated in 1853 as a city, the 8th in Maine. It developed into a shipbuilding center, producing hundreds of three, four and five masted schooners. Materials for wooden boat construction were shipped down the Penobscot River from Bangor, the lumber capital of North America during the later 1800s.

Shipbuilders became wealthy, and built the Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate mansions and civic architecture for which the city is noted, including the 1818 First Church by master-builder Samuel French, and the 1857 Custom House and Post Office by noted architect Ammi B. Young. Wooden ship construction would fade about 1900, but with the advent of refrigeration, the local economy shifted to harvesting seafood, including lobsters, scallops, sardines, herrings and mackerel for the Boston and New York markets.

A county wide connection to the main line of the Maine Central Railroad at Burnham 33-miles inland from Belfast was established by the largely city-owned Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad with its opening in 1871. For the first 55 years the line was operated under lease by the MEC as its Belfast Branch but its operation reverted to the B&ML on January 1, 1926, when the lease was terminated by the larger road. Regular passenger service ended in 1960, and all operations in Belfast of any kind ceased in 2005, when the main yard was torn up.

Main Street in 1921

Shoe manufacture became an important business. After World War II, however, the Belfast economy was driven by its poultry industry, including 2 of the state's larger processors, Maplewood and Penobscot Poultry. Waldo County farms supplied the factories with up to 200,000 birds a day. The annual Broiler Festival became a popular summer event, attracting both local people and tourists. But the poultry business collapsed in the mid-1970s during a national recession, devastating the city and surrounding towns. In the early 1980s, the defunct chicken-feed silos that once fed millions of chickens at the foot of Main Street were demolished. There was an exodus of people seeking employment prospects elsewhere through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. But as they left, artists and young college graduates moved in.

In the early 1990s, credit-card giant MBNA established a large facility in Belfast. The company was instrumental in establishing the Hutchinson Center of the University of Maine, an outpost of the University of Maine System, less than a mile from the main MBNA campus. Jobs provided by MBNA, which was recently acquired by the Bank of America, helped increase Belfast's population significantly. Movies filmed in Belfast include Peyton Place (1957), Thinner (1996) and In the Bedroom (2001).

Notable residents

Steamboat Landing in 1920

Geography

Belfast is located at 44°25′33″N 69°0′42″W / 44.42583°N 69.01167°W / 44.42583; -69.01167 (44.425896, -69.011646).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.3 square miles (99.3 km²), of which, 34.0 square miles (88.2 km²) of it is land and 4.3 square miles (11.2 km²) of it (11.26%) is water. Situated on Penobscot Bay, Belfast is drained by the Passagassawakeag River.

Demographics

U. S. Custom House in c. 1910, designed by Ammi B. Young

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 6,381 people, 2,765 households, and 1,692 families residing in the city. The population density was 187.5 people per square mile (72.4/km²). There were 3,121 housing units at an average density of 91.7/sq mi (35.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.56% White, 0.28% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.

There were 2,765 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.77.

Greek Revival mansion from the shipbuilding era; postcard c. 1920

In the city the population was spread out with 20.9% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 87.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,400, and the median income for a family was $43,253. Males had a median income of $30,514 versus $27,518 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,276. About 10.0% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.5% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.

Education

Belfast: Mascot- Belfast Lions

These three elementary schools closed down in early 2000s:

  • Pierce School- Grades K-3 (Former private school)
  • Anderson School- Grades K-3 (Now Waterfall Arts)
  • Robertson School- Grades 3-5 (Not in use)

Schools Part of Belfast's MSAD #34 District as of 2009:

  • Captain Albert Stevens Elementary School- Grades K-5 Consolidation of Pierce, Anderson and Robertson Schools
  • Ames School- Grades K-5 (Located in Searsmont)
  • Weymouth School- Grades K-5 (Located in Morrill)
  • Drinkwater School- Grades K-5 (Located in Northport)
  • Nickerson School- Grades K-5 (Located in Swanville)
  • East Belfast School- Grades K-5 (Located in East Belfast, nicknamed "East Side School")
  • Troy A. Howard Middle School- Grades 6-8 Troy Howard Middle School
  • Belfast Area High School- Grades 9-12 (Located in Belfast)

Towns in the SAD #34 District as of spring 2009:

  • Belfast
  • Belmont
  • Swanville
  • Searsmont
  • Northport
  • Morrill

In order to save money, many schools in the state of Maine are forced to combine with other districts. Due to consolidation, MSAD #34 will combine with MSAD #56 in the fall of 2009. The MSAD's will no longer exist; they have been changed as one unit, RSU #20. RSU Superintendent is former Troy A. Howard Middle School and Belfast Area High School Vice Principal Bruce Mailloux.

Schools in MSAD #56: Mascots: Searsport Vikings, Frankfort Bobcats

Searsport Elementary School- Grades K-5 Searsport Middle School- Grades 6-8 Searsport High School- Grades 9-12 Stockton Springs Elementary School- Grades K-5 Frankfort Elementary School- Grades K-5

Towns in the new RSU #20 District as of fall 2009:

  • Belfast
  • Belmont
  • Swanville
  • Searsmont
  • Northport
  • Morrill
  • Searsport
  • Frankfort
  • Stockton Springs

Sites of interest

References

  • Joseph Williamson, History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine; Loring, Short & Harmon, publishers; Portland, Maine 1877
  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_County&Template=/cffiles/counties/usamap.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums (1970). Doris A. Isaacson. ed. Maine: A Guide 'Downeast'. Rockland, Me: Courier-Gazette, Inc.. pp. 266–269. 
  3. ^ Perry's Nut House
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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