In & About Biddeford
Biddeford, with a population of over 21,000 people, is Maine’s sixth largest city. Located along the I-95 corridor, Biddeford is a standout community conveniently situated some 15 miles south of Portland and 90 miles north of Boston.
Then & Now
Settled in the early 1600’s, Biddeford and its sister City of Saco have a long and rich history as the commercial center of York County. Once a textile center of world prominence, Biddeford’s economy today is a diverse mix of manufacturing, technology, and serviced-based companies and institutions, many of whom conduct business in the City’s business and industrial parks. Anchoring the City’s economic base are two of Maine’s truly dynamic institutions: the award-winning Southern Maine Heath Care and the University of New England - both of whom are experiencing impressive growth.
One relic of the past that still stands today is the First Parish Meetinghouse, located at the intersection of Old Pool Road and Meeting House Road. Built in 1758, it is the oldest public building in the City, and it served as a combined church and town hall until about 1840. Historical events that occurred on this site include the town answering the call of the Committee of Correspondence to abstain from importing British goods, the Committee of Public Safety forming to obtain powder and flints for the protection of the Town, and the Declaration of Independence read to the people of Biddeford on July 17, 1776. Today, the building is owned by the Biddeford Historical Society and is used to hold lectures and educational events about Biddeford's history.
In terms of natural features, Biddeford’s 30 square miles of land area is as astoundingly beautiful as it is richly diverse!
Just a few miles to the east of the City center lies a magnificent coastline with two miles of sandy beaches framed by rocky promontories. Whether riding a wave on the perfect surf at Fortune's Rocks or exploring the tide pools at Biddeford Pool, a day at the beach in Biddeford is fun for the whole family. Along the coast are gems such as the historic Wood Island Lighthouse, lighting Saco Bay since 1806, and places to explore like the Timber Point Trail along the Rachel Carson U.S. Wildlife Preserve and the East Point Audubon Sanctuary.
To the west of the Maine Turnpike are rolling hills and pastures with traditional New England farmhouses and horse farms which capture life from a by-gone era.
And, let’s not forget the beautiful Saco River which has its origins in the New Hampshire Mountains as it meanders along a largely unspoiled Biddeford shorefront for a distance of 14 miles, where it meets the sea at Hills Beach-Camp Ellis. The City's RiverWalk, a downtown trail, has opened up urban views of the river, and the water can be accessed for boating or paddling via the Marble Head Boat Launch and Rotary Park.
The downtown area is urban in its density and fabric, with numerous historic commercial buildings, churches, textile mills, and homes.
Biddeford's once-abandoned textile mills are thriving again, this time as a mixed-use campus of residential apartments and diverse commercial space. The Pepperell Mill Campus is continuing to grow and evolve thanks to innovative entrepreneurs that have adapted to this unique space and made it their own. However, the history of the mills can still be revisited at the Biddeford Mills Museum.
The downtown's growing arts and cultural community is anchored by the beautiful and historic City Theater, which first opened in 1896. This richly ornamented opera house was built in the colonial revival style by Maine architect John Calvin Stevens after an 1894 fire destroyed the original theater. Today, City Theater is home to five major community theater projects each year from October to August and features concerts, films, plays, and performing artists throughout the year. Engine, a nonprofit organization aiming to connect and inspire the community through art and design, also offers classes, exhibits and events for the creative community.
Foodies will be right at home in the downtown, too. With a variety of cuisines from quick bites to gourmet meals, as well as craft breweries serving local beverages, Biddeford's downtown restaurant scene has something for everyone.
Heart of Biddeford, the City's Main Street organization, works to promote vitality in the downtown region and organizes community-building events such as the River Jam Festival and Winterfest.
Quality of Life
The quality of life for Biddeford residents is further enhanced by the availability of an outstanding array of community facilities including a modern regional hospital, schools and colleges, library and cultural facilities, a municipal airport, and numerous parks and recreational facilities which appeal to all interests. Combined with the city's beautiful natural resources, thriving downtown, and special community traditions like the annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival celebrating Biddeford's unique cultural history, there's no better place to be than Biddeford.