Rockland is a city in Knox County, Maine, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 7,609. It is the county seat of Knox County. The city is a popular tourist destination. It is a departure point for the Maine State Ferry Service to the islands of Penobscot Bay: Vinalhaven, North Haven and Matinicus.
Abenaki Indians called it Catawamteak, meaning "great landing place." In 1767, John Lermond and his 2 brothers from Warren built a camp to produce oak staves and pine lumber. Thereafter known as Lermond's Cove, it was first settled about 1769. When in 1777 Thomaston was incorporated, Lermond's Cove became a district called Shore village. On July 28, 1848, it was set off as the town of East Thomaston. Renamed Rockland in 1850, it was chartered as a city in 1854.
With no watermill sites, growth had at first been slow, but Rockland developed quickly because of two principal businesses: shipbuilding and lime production. In 1854 alone, the city built 11 ships, 3 barks, 6 brigs and 4 schooners. Red Jacket, of 2,500 tons and constructed in 1853, was at that time the fastest vessel across the Atlantic, and also from Australia to Liverpool and back. The city had 12 lime quarries and 125 lime kilns, with upwards of 300 vessels to transport the mineral to various ports in the United States.
By 1886, shipbuilding was surpassed by the lime business, which had 12 manufacturers employing 1,000 workers. Nevertheless, Rockland's maritime interests continued, with 3 or more shipyards, a marine railway, 5 sail lofts and 2 boatbuilders. Other industries included 3 grain mills, 2 foundries, 3 carriage factories, 6 lumber mills, 2 machine shops, 3 cooperies, 1 tannery, 4 granite and marble works, 2 boot and shoe factories and 4 printing offices. Fishing was also an important occupation. Fleets of Friendship Sloops sailed between the harbor and the fishing grounds across Penobscot Bay.
In 1915, the new superdreadnought conducted tests and completed her running trials just off the shore from Rockland.
The opening of the Knox and Lincoln Railroad in 1871 brought an influx of tourists. Inns and hotels were established to accommodate them, with the grandest being The Bay Point Hotel in 1889. With a commanding view near the breakwater, the resort offered every luxury and amusement. Renamed The Samoset Hotel in 1902, it was successful until the Great Depression, which began a slow decline. In the age of automobiles, travelers were no longer restricted to the limits of train service, but were free to explore elswhere. Closed in 1969, the Victorian hotel burned in 1972. A new Samoset Resort opened in 1974.
Today, Rockland is an officially designated micropolitan area, and has made several "best cities and towns to live" lists in recent years. Since the early 1990s, Rockland has seen a shift in its economy away from the fishery and toward a service center city. It has also seen a large increase in tourism and the downtown has transformed into one of unique shops, boutiques, fine dining and art galleries. Rockland is the commercial center of the midcoast Maine region, with many historic inns, a coffee roaster, a food co-op, a community radio station WRFR, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. Rockland was named a Coast Guard City in March, 2008, in recognition of the long-standing and special relationship that the city and its residents have with the United States Coast Guard.
Rockland is located at (44.109569, -69.114652).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.1 square miles (39.1 km²), of which, 12.9 square miles (33.4 km²) of it is land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km²) of it (14.50%) is water. Rockland is located on Penobscot Bay and the Gulf of Maine, part of the Atlantic Ocean. About ten miles to the east are the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven, reached by ferry from Rockland.
Rockland is crossed by U.S. 1 and 1A, and state routes 17, 73 and 90. It borders the towns of Owls Head to the southeast, Thomaston to the southwest, Warren to the northwest, and Rockport to the northeast.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,609 people, 3,434 households, and 1,943 families residing in the city. The population density was 589.2 people per square mile (227.6/km²). There were 3,752 housing units at an average density of 290.5/sq mi (112.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.90% White, 0.25% African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.57% of the population.
There were 3,434 households out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.4% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.4% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.78.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.1% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,209, and the median income for a family was $37,083. Males had a median income of $27,212 versus $20,708 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,659. About 10.4% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.2% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.