Maine: An Encyclopedia


Sanford Birdseye View 1889

Sanford Birdseye View 1889

Location Map for Sanford

Location Map for Sanford

Year Population
1970 15,812
1980 18,020
1990 20,463
2000 20,806
2010 20,798
Geographic Data
N. Latitude 43:32:14
W. Latitude 70:27:17
Maine House Dist 4,18,19
Maine Senate District 33
Congress District 1
Area sq. mi. (total) 48.7
Area sq. mi. (land) 47.8
Population/sq.mi (land) 435.1
County: York

Total=land+water; Land=land only
Sanford Population Chart 1790-2010

Population Trend 1790-2010

Sign: Welcome to Sanford and Springvale (2002)[SAN-frd] is a city in York County, incorporated as a town on February 27, 1768 from the Phillipstown Tract.

The original Phillipstown Tract was named for Major William Phillips who obtained several quit claim deeds from Indian chief for a large territory.

The current name derives from Major William Phillips’ stepsons, and the sons of his third wife, Bridget Hutchinson Sanford.

Sanford Town Hall (2002)

Sanford Town Hall (2002)

After annexing some incorporated land in 1786 and ceding land to Lebanon in 1787, Sanford swapped land with Shapleigh (1787, 1820) and Alfred (1794, 1828).

After 245 years as a town, in 2013 Sanford became the first community in Maine to become a city since Caribou did in 1967. Its representative town meeting, now abolished, was the only one of its kind in Maine.

From the 1940s through the 1960s Sanford’s population hovered around 15,000.  Then the 70s and 80s brought the number to a bit over 20,000, where it has remained since.

The city, the state’s seventh largest, maintains a fine park in the main village. Mousam River, which emerges from Mousam Lake in Shapleigh, passes through the village and its mill pond is the centerpiece of Mousam Way Park.

Street Scene in Sanford (2012)

Street Scene in Sanford (2012)

Carl J. Lamb Elementary School (2012)

Carl J. Lamb Elementary School (2012)


Pleasant Street Free Baptist Church in Sanford Village (2012)

Pleasant Street Free Baptist Church, Sanford Village (2012)

The city has maintained a fine park in the main village. The Mousam River, which emerges from Mousam Lake in Shapleigh, passes through the village and its mill pond is the centerpiece of Mousam Way Park.

Louis Goodall established the Goodall Worsted Company, and was president of the Sanford National Bank before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 1917.

Sanford is accessible to Biddeford in the east and to the coast at Wells in the southeast. The city is a hub of several Maine Routes: 4A, 11, 11A, 109, 224 and U.S. Route 201.

Springvale is a large community with its own identity northwest of downtown Sanford, just up the Mousam river, which flows through both. It was home to the Boot and Shoemakers Union in 1903.

Mills near Downtown Sanford (2002)

Mills near Downtown Sanford (2002)

Traditionally an industrial center, primarily with textile mills and shoe making, Sanford has diversified and continues to be a growing community.

Sanford, with Springvale Village, was the seventh largest town or city in Maine by population according to the 2010 Census, up from a ranking of ninth in 1990.

Form of Government: City Council-Manager.

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Additional resources

Image credit: “Sanford Birdseye View 1889.” LC classification: G3734.S35A3 1889 .N6 Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu. G3734S Pm002510 Http://Hdl.Loc.Gov/Loc.Gmd/G3734S.Pm002510.  Image source: (accessed March 19, 2013)

A Trolly Trip along the Mousam. Issued by the Sanford and Cape Porpoise Railway Co. Sanford, Me. The Company. 1901.

Eastman, Harland H. Sanford and Springvale, Maine, in the days of Fred Philpot: a photographic history. Springvale, Me. H. H. Eastman. 1985.

Eastman, Harland H. Villages on the Mousam: Sanford and Springvale, Maine. Springvale, Me.: H. H. Eastman. c1995. (Sanford, Me. Robert M. Wilson, Wilson’s Printers)

Emery, Edwin. The History of Sanford, Maine, 1661-1900. Compiled, edited and arranged by his son, William Morrell Emery. Fall River, Mass. Published by the compiler. 1901.

Graham, Gillian. “Sanford becomes Maine’s newest city.” Portland Press Herald. January 2, 2013. (accessed July 16, 2014)

Sanford Historical Committee. Sanford, Maine: A Bicentennial History. Published in commemoration of the anniversary of the incorporation of the town in 1768. Albert L. Prosser, editor. Sanford. 1968.

Seeman, Bernard. The Town that Refused to Die. Chicago? Esquire. 1956.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Emery Homestead, 1 and 3 Lebanon Street

Goodall, Thomas, House, 232 Main Street

Sanford Naval Air Station Administration Building–Control Tower, Former, Southwest corner of Sanford Municipal Airport, southwest of junction of Maine Route 99 and Maine Route 109 South Sanford

Smith–Emery House, 253 Main Street Springvale

US Post Office–Sanford Maine, 28 School Street

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This entry was last modified: September 20, 2017 08:30 PM

2 Responses to Sanford

  1. Jeff Eaton says:

    Time to update Sanford as a City!

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