"It (York) is now widely known as one of the most eligible and altogether desirable of sea-side resorts.
The efforts made to improve the natural attractions of the place by providing for the comfort and furnishing facilities for the enjoyment of those who visit it, have greatly added to its popularity. It has entered a new stage in its career, and before this is completed the town is likely to have a national fame.
Its position invites this, and the intelligent efforts of those who had the sagacity to appreciate its resources as a watering place have improved and utilized what nature has done in this respect.
It is with a view to interest not alone the inhabitants of the vicinity, but the thousands who will be brought to know it through its associations as a place of summer residence, that this brief record of its history has been prepared."
From the Ancient City of Gorgeana and Modern Town of York Maine, George A. Emery, 1873
Exactly what I would have said - if it were 1873.
The town of York Maine is one of New England's earliest colonial settlements. It also has the distinction of being America's first chartered city (1641) and first incorporated city (1642).
York is actually the fourth name that the town has known.
The earliest records refer to the general area as Agamenticus, after the original inhabitants. The first English settlers, having come from the region of Bristol, England, lent that name to the town until it became a chartered city under Sir Ferdinando Gorges (pronounced “gorgeous”), who renamed it Gorgeana (pronounced "gorge-ee-anna") in 1642. The name York was appointed after the fall of the Loyalists under Cromwell in 1652, commemorating the town (York, England) in which Cromwell defeated the King's forces.
(Editor's note: With all due respect to Sir Gorges, I'm SO glad we didn't end up as Gorgeana!)
After the Abenaki Candlemas Day Raid of 1692 (see photo above), the town reorganized itself on higher ground that evolved into the present day center of religious, civic and governmental functions.
As tourism developed in the late nineteenth century, more and more of the town of York's tax dollars came from the businesses and homes of the wealthy summer residents who travel to Maine.
Although they sought the colonial quaintness of the town, they also wanted the amenities of the cities: public water, streetlights, sidewalks, paved roads, electricity and libraries.
The locals, however, had the advantage of the vote, and farmers would not vote for improvements at the Harbor or the beach.
In 1901 York Harbor and York Beach presented bills to the Maine legislature requesting the creation of York Harbor Village Corporation and York Beach Corporation.
The incorporation process allowed these sub-towns a certain degree of self-government and a "refund" of 65 percent of the taxes they paid to York, permitting such independent services as fire, police, and highway departments.
York Harbor Village Corporation did not give up its autonomy until 1975.
York Beach Village Corporation was premier in bringing the amenities of the city to this small town.
The Village boasted the first sidewalks, streetlight, fire department, and public sewage and water. This Corporation folded in 1977.
Cape Neddick, the residential suburb, was the last section to be developed due to its geographic remoteness from the town center.
The name Cape Neddick is one native place name that has survived and remained a prominent landmark since contact, known first as a navigational marker and today as the site of the Cape Neddick Light Station (aka Nubble Light). The English added the word "Cape", but Neddick is believed to be an Algonkian word meaning "solitary" and refers to the nubble of land isolated from the peninsula.
As you can tell from our history, the town of York Maine has always “subdivided” itself into distinct sections. That's why we've got four different zip codes (03902, 03909, 03910, 03911), two fire stations, and that's why the signs out on the highway for our exit say “The Yorks” instead of "York".
But each of the different parts of our little town is unique, with its own “feel” and characteristics, and each is well worth exploring.
Helpful Town Information
York Town Hall 1-207-363-1000
York Police Department 1-207-363-4444 (Administrative)
York Harbor Master 1-207-363-0433
York Parks & Recreation 1-207-363-1040
York Public Library 1-207-363-2818
York Hospital 1-207-363-4321
York Animal Control Officer 1-207-363-4445
Town of York Maine statistics
Settled: 1636 Incorporated: 1652
Area: 57.7 sq. mi.
Population: 14,064 (July 2008)
Long.: W 70:40:04
Government: Town Manager and 5 member Board of Selectmen
County seat: Alfred
Zip: 03902 (Cape Neddick) 03909 (York Village, York) 03910 (York Beach) 03911 (Harbor) Area code: 207
Tax rate (2009): $8.26 per thousand
Schools: York High School, York Middle School, Coastal Ridge Elementary School, Village Elementary School
York has excellent schools with great career opportunities for teachers. Learn about certification requirements and become a teacher in Maine.