Laconia is a city in Belknap County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 15,951 at the 2010 census and an estimated 16,492 as of 2018. It is the county seat of Belknap County. Laconia, situated between Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake, includes the villages of Lakeport and Weirs Beach. Each June for nine days beginning on the Saturday of the weekend before Father’s Day and ending on Father’s Day, the city hosts Laconia Motorcycle Week, also more simply known as ‘bike week’, one of the country’s largest rallies, and each winter, the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby. The city is also the site of the state’s annual Pumpkin Festival since 2015, having organized it after its former home of Keene rejected it due to riots in their neighborhoods in 2014. The city also includes one of the colleges of the Community College System of New Hampshire.
Laconia is located northwest of the geographic center of Belknap County. The city lies at the center of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, and all or part of four major bodies of water lie within its limits: Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam Lake, Opechee Bay and Paugus Bay (sometimes counted as an arm of Winnipesaukee, but historically a separate body of water).
Laconia contains three main villages. Downtown Laconia, where the Belknap County Courthouse is located, can be found in the southern tip of the city, along the Winnipesaukee River between Opechee Bay to the north and Winnisquam Lake to the southwest. Lakeport, located between Opeechee Bay and Paugus Bay, is near the geographic center of the city. Weirs Beach, around the channel connecting Paugus Bay with Lake Winnipesaukee, lies at the northern edge of the city.
U.S. Route 3 passes through parts of the city, bypassing downtown but passing through Weirs Beach. New Hampshire Route 11 bypasses the city in a concurrency with US 3. The two highways lead southwest from Laconia to Tilton and Franklin. New Hampshire Route 11A represents the old routes 11 and 3 through downtown as Court Street and Union Avenue, but then turns east on Gilford Avenue to lead to Gilford and West Alton. New Hampshire Route 106 runs north-south through downtown, leading south to Concord and north to Meredith. New Hampshire Route 107 leads southeast from downtown towards Gilmanton and Pittsfield. Route 107 turns north in downtown and follows Union Avenue (former Route 3) to a junction with US 3 near the north end of the Laconia Bypass. US 3 continues north along the east shore of Paugus Bay, through Weirs Beach and into Meredith. Route 11 leads east from the Laconia Bypass past Glendale and into Alton. New Hampshire Route 11B leads east from Weirs Beach into Gilford.
The former Boston and Maine Railroad White Mountain Branch, originally built as the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad, enters Laconia at the Belmont town line near Lake Winnisquam and runs north through the city, through Lakeport and along Paugus Bay to Weirs Beach and Meredith. Purchased by the State of New Hampshire in 1975, the tracks are actively used for freight purposes by the New England Southern Railroad and for tourist train service by the Plymouth & Lincoln Railroad between Meredith and Lakeport, with occasional service out of Laconia. The line is also a vital active link to the National rail network for the tourist operator to ship and receive equipment for their own use and also to perform contract work at the railroad’s Lincoln repair shops.
Laconia Municipal Airport is located just east of the city limits in Gilford.
A recreational trail called the W.O.W. Trail (Winnipesaukee–Opechee–Winnisquam) links several parts of the city, following the railroad tracks from Winnisquam Lake, skirting the downtown area, and running to Lakeport. A desire to extend the trail to Weirs Beach has been contested by residents in private communities abutting the rail corridor. The proposed removal of active rail for said extension is contested also by railroad companies actively using the tracks and the State of New Hampshire Bureau of Rail and Transit.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.6 square miles (68.8 km), of which 20.0 square miles (51.9 km) are land and 6.5 square miles (16.9 km) are water, comprising 24.54% of the city. Laconia is drained by the Winnipesaukee River. It is bounded in the southwest by Winnisquam Lake, and by Lake Winnipesaukee in the northeast. Laconia lies fully within the Merrimack River watershed. The highest point in Laconia is a 960-foot (290 m) hill in the northern part of the city, west of Paugus Bay’s Pickerel Cove and just east of Route 106.
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,411 people, 6,724 households, and 4,168 families residing in the city. The population density was 809.3 people per square mile (312.4/km²). There were 8,554 housing units at an average density of 421.8 per square mile (162.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.79% White, 0.55% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.99% of the population.
There were 6,724 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,796, and the median income for a family was $45,307. Males had a median income of $31,714 versus $22,818 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,540. About 7.5% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.
Laconia New Hampshire neighborhoods include: By The River, Downtown, Hospital Hood, Laconia, Lakewood/Wildwood Beach, Opechee Shores, Outerbridge Dr/Elm St, Paugus Bay Villas, Saint Catherine, Weirs Beach