Belfast, Maine

Belfast, Maine

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Belfast, Maine
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = Belfast Bay


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Belfast in Maine

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Maine
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Waldo
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title = Incorporated
established_date = 1773

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =

area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 99.3
area_land_km2 = 88.2
area_water_km2 = 11.2
area_total_sq_mi = 38.4
area_land_sq_mi = 34.0
area_water_sq_mi = 4.3

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 6381
population_density_km2 = 72.4
population_density_sq_mi = 187.5

timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 26
elevation_ft = 85
latd = 44 |latm = 25 |lats = 33 |latNS = N
longd = 69 |longm = 0 |longs = 42 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 04915
area_code = 207
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 23-03950
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0562011
website =
footnotes =

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 CountyGR|6. The seaport has a wealth of antique architecture in several historic districts, and remains popular with tourists.


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). cite book |last=Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums |editor=Doris A. Isaacson |title=Maine: A Guide 'Downeast' |year=1970 |publisher=Courier-Gazette, Inc. |location=Rockland, Me | pages = 266-269 ] The English 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.

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

* Nehemiah Abbott, congressman
* Hugh J. Anderson, governor & congressman
* Dorothy Cannell, writer
* William Veazie Pratt, admiral
* Genie Francis, actress
* Jonathan Frakes, actor
* Albert G. Jewett, Diplomat (U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Peru, 1845-47)
* Bern Porter, artist
* Nathan Read, judge
* Joseph B. Smith, naval officer
* Albert William Stevens, army officer, balloonist & photographer
* Phineas Quimby, mesmerist
* William Wilder, congressman
* John Wilson, congressman


Belfast is located at coor dms|44|25|33|N|69|0|42|W|city (44.425896, -69.011646)GR|1.

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.


As of the censusGR|2 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.

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.

ites of interest

* [ Belfast Historical Society & Museum]
* [ National Theater Workshop for the Handicapped]
* [ Perry's Nut House]


* [ History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine.] By Joseph Williamson. Published 1877. Full image at
* [ History of Belfast, Maine (1886)] from "A Gazetteer of the State of Maine", by George J. Varney.

* Joseph Williamson, "History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine"; Loring, Short & Harmon, publishers; Portland, Maine 1877

External links

* [ City of Belfast, Maine]
* [ Belfast Free Library]
* [ Belfast Radio History]
* [ Radio Receiver Station]
* [ (An illustrated online history of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, chartered in 1867.)]
* [ Community directory]

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