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Gardiner is a city in Kennebec Countymarker, Mainemarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 6,198 at the 2000 census. Popular with tourists, Gardiner is noted for its culture and old architecture. The city also enjoys a vibrant scat community.


Main and Water streets, c.
Located at the head of navigation on the Kennebec River, Gardiner was founded as Gardinerstown Plantation in 1754 by Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, a prominent Bostonmarker physician. Dr. Gardiner had made a fortune as a drug merchant, with 1 apothecary shop in Massachusettsmarker and 2 in Connecticutmarker, and became a principal proprietor of the Kennebec Purchase within the old Plymouth Patent. He proved a tireless promoter for his development, which once comprised over 100,000 acres (400 km²).

Dr. Gardiner induced a gristmill builder, saw millwright, house carpenter and wheelwright to settle here. Houses, mills, a church and a blockhouse were built. Situated at the confluence of the Kennebec River and Cobbesseeconte Stream, which has falls that drop 130 feet over a mile, the location was recognized by him as ideal for water-powered mills. Gardinerstown, set off from Pittstonmarker in 1760, soon became center of the regional economy.

The wilderness toils of Dr. Gardiner would end, however, with the Revolution. Loyal to the Crown, he fled Boston in 1776 when the Britishmarker army evacuated. But his settlement lived on without him, and in 1803 was incorporated as the town of Gardiner. From the early 1800s until the Civil War, shipbuilding and trade were primary industries. It would become a city in 1849, at which time 10 large riverfront wharves served shipping. Lumber, in vast quantities, passed through Gardiner. Tanneries and shoe factories prospered.

Ice house and mill in c.
The city became known worldwide for exporting ice. Each winter men cut large blocks from the Kennebec River, then covered the ice with sawdust in warehouses to keep it frozen well into summer. It was loaded year-round on large vessels for shipment throughout the United Statesmarker and world. Gardiner was noted for its pristine Kennebec ice, harvested at the furthest point upriver that deep-draft vessels could reach.

In 1851, the city was connected by railroad. One of the first workable steam automobiles in Americamarker was built in Gardiner in 1858. Beginning in the 1860s, paper mills flourished, as did the commercial ice industry between the 1880s and 1920s. By the 1960s, however, many mills suffered decline and closure. The former mill town is now largely a bedroom community for people who work in Augustamarker, the state's capital, as well as Bath Iron Worksmarker in Bathmarker. Some residents commute as far as the Portlandmarker area. The city is endowed with a great deal of antique architecture, much of it beautifully restored. In 1980, the entire downtown historic district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Image:Public Library, Gardiner, ME.jpg|Public Library in 1907Image:Brunswick Avenue, Gardiner, ME.jpg|Brunswick Avenue in 1916Image:The Paper Mills, Gardiner, ME.jpg|Paper mills in 1909Image:Railroad Depot, Gardiner, ME.jpg|Railroad Depot in 1911

Notable residents


Gardiner is located at .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.6 square miles (43.0 km²), of which, 15.7 square miles (40.6 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.5 km²) of it (5.72%) is water. Gardiner is drained by the Cobbesseeconte Stream and Kennebec River.


Hazzard Co.
Shoe Factory in 1915
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,198 people, 2,510 households, and 1,603 families residing in the city. The population density was 395.6 people per square mile (152.7/km²). There were 2,702 housing units at an average density of 172.5/sq mi (66.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.90% White, 0.39% African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.24% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.81% of the population.

There were 2,510 households out of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.97.

Old High School in 1912
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,103, and the median income for a family was $42,750. Males had a median income of $33,069 versus $25,399 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,033. About 11.4% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.2% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest


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