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Presque Isle is the commercial center and largest city in Aroostook County, Maine, United States. The population was 8,998 in 2018 as estimated by the US Census, a decrease from the count of 9,692 in the 2010 Census. The city is home to the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College, Husson University Presque Isle, Northern Maine Fairgrounds, The Aroostook Centre Mall, and the Presque Isle International Airport.
Presque Isle is the headquarters of the Aroostook Band of Micmac, a federally recognized tribe.
The first European settlers were British Loyalists who reached the area in 1819 hoping to obtain land for lumber. Border disputes between the United States and the United Kingdom over the area, however, made it impossible for pioneers to gain title to the land. In response, the government of the neighboring British colony of New Brunswick (now a Canadian province) gave out patents for pioneers to live on the land but not claim ownership or sell it. By 1825, surveyors traveling along the Aroostook river noted that twenty families lived along it and noted that while agriculture was present, all of the families employed most of their time towards wood production.
The boundary dispute slowed development in the area, but the government of Massachusetts, which governed the territory at the time, saw the territory as theirs and encouraged the development of settlements in northern Maine by offering land grants and mill privileges in the 1820s. The first American to settle in the area was Dennis Fairbanks in 1828 who gained ownership over the land under the provisions set up by Massachusetts and later Maine, which gained statehood in 1820.
Originally known as Fairbanks for its founder Dennis Fairbanks, Presque Isle was settled in 1828 on land that was unknown to be part of British North America (Canada) or the United States. The Aroostook War broke out in 1838 because of boundary disputes between the two countries, which were resolved in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. The township was incorporated from Plantations F, G and H on April 4, 1859 as Presque Isle, derived from the French term for peninsula (presqu'île), as the courses of the Aroostook River and Presque Isle Stream form a peninsula.
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