York Harbor, Maine

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York Harbor is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of York in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 3,321 at the 2000 census. York Harbor is a distinguished former Gilded Age summer colony noted for its resort architecture. It is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area.



York was a prosperous seaport in the 18th-century. Its harbor, then known as Lower Town, was lined with wharves and warehouses to which upriver settlers brought their goods for trade and shipping. The tongue of land at the mouth of the York River was called Gallows Point, where criminals at the Royal Gaol in York Village were hanged. At high tide the tongue became an island, from which a ferry licensed in 1652 crossed to Seabury.

During the Revolution, fishermen and their families abandoned the Isles of Shoals off the coast and floated their homes to the Lower Town waterfront, where they were rebuilt. [1] They hauled their boats at Lobster Cove and dried their catch on fish flakes, after which the tongue would be named Stage Neck. In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson's embargo crippled local mercantile trade, and by the Civil War, Stage Neck had deteriorated into a ramshackle slum.

After the rebellion, Nathaniel Grant Marshall (1812-1882), a lawyer, had a vision to convert the poorest section of Lower Town into a first-class summer emporium for wealthy tourists. He bought Stage Neck, razed the fishermen's shacks and in 1871 built a grand hotel called the Marshall House. As part of its upgrade, Lower Town was renamed York Harbor. [2] Steamers began arriving with families drawn to the Maine shore from the heat and pollution in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Many liked the area enough to build summer mansions, characteristically in the Shingle Style during the 1880-1890 boom. Soon York Harbor joined Bar Harbor and Newport as fashionable East Coast summer destinations.

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