As the City "historian", the South Portland City Clerk's office is responsible for the care, organization, and maintenance of City documents and records, including vital records, annual reports, city ordinances, and all City Council meeting minutes and agendas dating back to when the City was incorporated in 1898. Additionally, with the help of the South Portland Public Library and South Portland Historical Society, the City houses historical records dating back to the early 1800's for Cape Elizabeth (of which South Portland was once part of).
Requesting a Public Record
We are happy to assist you in your research endeavors. Public records are available for inspection or copy upon request. If you are in need of a record, please contact the City Clerk. Our digital records database goes back from early 1990's to present time. If you are looking for a record beyond this time-frame, please allow us ample time to search for the record you need.
List of Records & Documents
- City Annual Reports
- City Ordinances
- City Council Agendas & Minutes (1899 to present; online available from 1992-present)
- Vital Records - Births, Marriages, Deaths **
- Boards & Committee Agendas & Minutes
- South Portland Historical Documents (1800s-1900s) -- These records are housed in the basement of the Library. Please schedule an appointment with the Clerk's office for access to these records.
- South Portland Demographic & Census Data
- Local Government Record Retention Schedules
City records not listed may be housed by different departments.
Please contact the City Clerk for assistance.
History of the City of South Portland
The City of South Portland is a coastal community in southern Maine encompassing an area of 12.93 square miles. The city has been referred to as two cities, with the western half of the city hosting commercial, industrial and advanced technology property and the eastern half of the city sporting a community college, a beach area, several parks, one of the State’s largest marinas, a municipal boat ramp, a maritime museum and the second busiest oil port on the entire East Coast.
Prior to World War II, South Portland was a residential community that broke away from Cape Elizabeth in 1895. The city was pretty quiet until a shipyard was established in 1940 to build cargo ships for Great Britain. When the United States became involved with World War II the shipyard expanded and turned out 236 of the 440 foot long Liberty Ships, more than 10 percent of all the Liberty ships built during the war years. At its peak, the shipyard employed some 30,000 people, including thousands of women, Wendy Welders and Rosie Riveters who took over the jobs vacated by men going into the service. The shipyard gradually ceased operations after the war ended in 1945.
The city remained relatively quiet until the mid 1960’s when consideration was given to develop a piece of land on the west end of the city. Recognizing the location as having a healthy economic future, the city purchased 137 acres from Dwyer’s pig farm in anticipation of the Interstate 295 spur through Portland and South Portland that would be linking with the turnpike just south of the farm, with the added advantage of the close proximity of the Portland International Jetport (the runway is actually located in South Portland). When a developer came to the area looking for a likely spot for a shopping center, South Portland was chosen over Portland, Scarborough and Falmouth. As a result, the Maine Mall opened its first twenty stores to crowds of shoppers in August 1971. In September of 1972 the total taxable sales for the month were 7.5 million. The Mall employed 2,000 employees and had a 10 million dollar annual payroll. In the last 30 years the Maine Mall area has evolved from farmland into the largest retail, commercial, and office complex north of Boston and currently employs more than 3,000 people. Each year the Mall’s 140 businesses draw 13 million visitors to its 1.2 million square feet of retail space. The population of South Portland swells from 23,300 to between 60,000 and 80,000 whenever the Mall’s doors are open.