is a city in York County, Maine, United States. It is the largest city in the county, and is the 6th largest in the State. It is the most southerly incorporated city in the State of Maine and the principal commercial center of York County. The population was 20,942 at the 2000 census. Biddeford includes the resort community of Biddeford Pool. The city is home to the University of New England and the annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival.
Biddeford is a principal city of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Sokokis tribe of Abenaki Indians once hunted and fished in the area. The first European to reside here was physician Richard Vine in the winter of 1616-1617 at Winter Harbor, as he called Biddeford Pool. In 1630, the Plymouth Company granted the land south of the River Swanckadocke (as the Saco River was then known) to Dr. Vine and John Oldham. In 1653, the town included both sides of the river, and was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.
Roger Spencer was granted the right in 1653 to build the first sawmill. Lumber and fish became the community's chief exports. In 1659, Major William Phillips of Boston became a proprietor, and constructed a garrison and mill at the falls. During King Philip's War in 1675, the town was attacked by Indians. Settlers withdrew to Winter Harbor for safety, and their homes and mills upriver at the falls were burned. In 1693, a stone fort was built a short distance below the falls, but it was captured by the Indians in 1703, when 11 colonists were killed and 24 taken captive to Canada. In 1708, Fort Mary was built near the entrance to Biddeford Pool. The town was reorganized in 1718 as Biddeford, after Bideford, a town in Devon, England, from which some settlers had emigrated. After the Fall of Quebec in 1759, hostilities with the Indians ceased.
In 1762, the land northeast of the river was set off as Pepperellborough, which in 1805 would be renamed Saco. The first bridge to Saco was built in 1767. The river divides into two falls that drop , providing water power for mills. Factories were established to make boots and shoes. The developing mill town also had granite quarries and brickyards, in addition to lumber and grain mills. Major textile manufacturing facilities were constructed along the riverbanks, including the Laconia Company in 1845, and the Pepperell Company in 1850. Biddeford was incorporated as a city in 1855.
The mills attracted waves of immigrants, including the Irish, Albanians, and French-Canadians from the province of Quebec. At one time the textile mills employed as many as 12,000 people, but as happened elsewhere in New England, the industry entered a long period of decline. Today, only one textile company, WestPoint Home, remains in the city. The last log drive down the Saco River was in 1943, with the last log sawn in 1948. Biddeford's name is engraved near the top level of the The Pilgrim Monument, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, along with the names of some of the oldest cities and towns in New England.