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|City of Bangor|
Downtown Bangor in August 2004
|Nickname(s): The Queen City of the East|
Location in Penobscot County, Maine
|Country||United States of America|
|Incorporated||February 12, 1834|
|• City Manager||Catherine Conlow|
|• City||34.59 sq mi (89.59 km2)|
|• Land||34.26 sq mi (88.73 km2)|
|• Water||0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2)|
|Elevation||118 ft (36 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||32,817|
|• Density||941.4/sq mi (369.8/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0561558|
|City of Bangor|
Downtown Bangor in August 2004
|Nickname(s): The Queen City of the East|
Location in Penobscot County, Maine
|Country||United States of America|
|Incorporated||February 12, 1834|
|• City Manager||Catherine Conlow|
|• City||34.59 sq mi (89.59 km2)|
|• Land||34.26 sq mi (88.73 km2)|
|• Water||0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2)|
|Elevation||118 ft (36 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||32,817|
|• Density||941.4/sq mi (369.8/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0561558|
Bangor (// BAYNG-gor, locally: [ˈbɛɪ̯ŋgɔɜ̯]) is a city in and the county seat of Penobscot County in the U.S. state of Maine, and the major commercial and cultural center for eastern and northern Maine. The population of the city was 33,039 at the 2010 United States Census. Bangor is the principal city of the Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 153,923, and encompasses all of Penobscot County.
As of 2008, Bangor is the third most populous city in Maine, as it has been for more than a century. Bangor is the largest market town, distribution center, transportation hub, and media center in a five-county area whose population tops 330,000 and which includes Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, Aroostook, and Washington counties.
Bangor is about thirty miles from Penobscot Bay up the Penobscot River at its confluence with the Kenduskeag Stream. It is connected by bridge to the neighboring city of Brewer. Its immediate suburban towns are Orono (home of the University of Maine campus), Hampden, Hermon, Old Town, Glenburn, and Veazie.
The Penobscot people long inhabited the area around present-day Bangor, and still occupy tribal land on the nearby Penobscot Indian Island Reservation. The first European to visit the site was probably the Portuguese Esteban Gómez in 1524, followed by Samuel de Champlain in 1605. Champlain was looking for the mythical city of Norumbega, thought to be where Bangor now lies. French priests settled among the Penobscots, and the valley remained contested between France and Britain into the 1750s, making it one of the last regions to become part of New England.
The British-American settlement that became Bangor was started in 1769 by Jacob Buswell, and was originally known as Condeskeag (or Kenduskeag) Plantation. By 1772, there were 12 families, along with a sawmill, store, and school. The settlement’s first child, Mary Howard, was born that year. The first lawsuit was brought in 1790, when Jacob Buswell sued David Wall for calling him “an old damned grey-headed bugar of Hell” and Rev. Seth Noble “a damned rascall”.
Starting in 1775, Condeskeag became the site of treaty negotiations with the Penobscot. The tribe was eventually left with only its main village on an island upriver from Bangor, called “Indian Old Town” by the settlers. Eventually, a white settlement taking the name Old Town was planted on the river bank opposite the Penobscot village, which began to be called “Indian Island”, and remains the site of the Penobscot Nation.
In 1779, during the American Revolution, the rebel Penobscot Expedition fled up the Penobscot River after being routed in the Battle of Castine, and the last of its ships (at least nine) were burned or captured by the British fleet at Bangor. Paul Revere was among the survivors who fled into the woods. A cannon from one of the rebel warships is mounted in a downtown park, and artifacts from the sunken ships continue to be discovered in the riverbed, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1787, Condeskeag had grown to 567 people, who decided to incorporate the town under the name of Sunbury. On September 11, 1787, 16 petitioners sent the Sunbury Petition of 1787 to the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which rejected the name. Three years later, they tried again, this time choosing the name Bangor after a popular hymn tune of the American Revolution. Reverend Seth Noble delivered the petition to the court on May 18, 1790, and it was accepted. The town of Bangor was incorporated on February 25, 1791, by John Hancock, governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
During the War of 1812, the town was sacked by the British. After local militia were routed in the Battle of Hampden, the town's selectmen surrendered the town. The British raided shops and homes for thirty hours, and threatened to burn ships in the harbor and unfinished ones on stocks. The selectmen, fearing the fires from the ships on stocks would spread to the town, struck a deal under which they put up a bond, and promised to deliver the unfinished vessels to the British by the end of November. The British floated the seaworthy ships into the middle of the Penobscot, set some ablaze, and took others loaded with horses and cattle back to their post in Castine, which they occupied until April 26, 1815, when they left for Canada. The British stayed only 30 hours, according to one account, because in the midst of celebrating their victory, the soldiers became so drunk on local rum that the officers felt vulnerable to counter-attack and could not hold their own.
In the 19th century, Bangor prospered as a lumber port, and began to call itself "the lumber capital of the world". Most of the local sawmills (as many as 300 to 400) were actually upriver in neighboring towns like Orono, Old Town, Bradley, and Milford, but Bangor controlled the capital port facilities, supplies and entertainment. Bangor capitalists also owned most of the forests. The main markets for Bangor lumber were the East Coast cities — Boston and New York were largely built from Maine lumber — but much was also shipped directly to the Caribbean. The city was particularly active in shipping building lumber to California during the Gold Rush, via Cape Horn, before sawmills could be established in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Bangorians subsequently helped transplant the Maine culture of lumbering to the Pacific Northwest, and participated directly in the Gold Rush themselves. Bangor, Washington; Bangor, California; and Little Bangor, Nevada, are legacies of this contact.
Sailors and loggers gave the city a widespread reputation for roughness; their stomping grounds were known as the "Devil's Half Acre". (The same name was also applied, at roughly the same time, to The Devil's Half-Acre, Pennsylvania). "Bangor Tigers" spent the winter felling the forests of interior Maine and floated the logs down the Penobscot River to Bangor with the spring snowmelt to receive their pay. Some then returned home to grow and harvest crops during the summer and autumn. An Englishman may have observed others loitering in Bangor when he reported in 1801:
The arrival of Irish immigrants from nearby Canada beginning in the 1830s, and their competition with local Yankees for jobs, sparked a deadly sectarian riot in 1833 that lasted for days and had to be put down by militia. Realizing the need for a police force, the town incorporated as The City of Bangor in 1834. Irish-Catholic and later Jewish immigrants eventually became established members of the community, along with many migrants from Atlantic Canada. Of 205 black citizens who lived in Bangor in 1910, over a third were originally from Canada.
Bangor was a center of political agitation during the bloodless Aroostook War, a boundary dispute with Britain in 1838–39. Still wary of the British navy, which had brought violence to the Penobscot twice, local politicians persuaded the Federal government to build a huge granite fort, Fort Knox, downriver from Bangor at Prospect, Maine, from 1844 to 1864. It remains one of the region's most prominent landmarks, although it never fired a shot in anger.
Many of the lumber barons built elaborate Greek Revival and Victorian houses that still stand on Broadway, West Broadway, and elsewhere around the city. Bangor is also noteworthy for its large number of substantial old churches, as well as its imposing canopy of shade trees. The city was so beautiful it was called "The Queen City of the East." The shorter Queen City appellation is still used by some local clubs, organizations, events and businesses.
Bangor was a center of anti-slavery politics in the years before the American Civil War, partly due to the influence of the Bangor Theological Seminary. The city had a chapter of the American Anti-Slavery Society with 105 members in 1837, and a parallel Female Anti-Slavery Society with 100 more. In 1841, the gubernatorial candidate of the anti-slavery Liberty Party received more votes in Bangor than in any other city in Maine, though he lost by a wide margin to a less radical Bangorean, Edward Kent. U.S. Congressman Israel Washburn Jr. from neighboring Orono was instrumental in organizing 30 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss forming the Republican Party, and was the first politician of that rank to use the term "Republican", in a speech at Bangor on June 2, 1854. Maine's first meeting on "Women's Rights" took place in Bangor that same year, with Susan B. Anthony as guest speaker.
That Hannibal Hamlin of neighboring Hampden became Lincoln's first Vice President contributed to the strength of local anti-slavery feeling, at least among an educated elite. The city gradually became so hot for the Republican cause that on Aug. 17, 1861, the offices of the Democratic paper, the Bangor Daily Union, were ransacked by a mob, and the presses and other materials thrown into the street and burned. Editor Marcellus Emery was threatened with violence but escaped unharmed. It was only after the war that he resumed publishing.
Bangor and surrounding towns were heavily engaged in the American Civil War. The North's first volunteer infantry company was raised there following the attack on Ft. Sumter. The locally mustered 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment ("The Bangor Regiment") was the first to march out of the state in 1861, and played a prominent part in the First Battle of Bull Run. The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment, mustered in Bangor and commanded by a local merchant, lost more men than any other Union regiment in the war (especially in a single ill-fated charge in the Second Battle of Petersburg, 1864). The 20th Maine Infantry Regiment commanded by Maj. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain from the neighboring town of Brewer gained fame for holding Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg. Grant gave Chamberlain the honor of accepting the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A bridge connecting Bangor with Brewer is named for Chamberlain, who was one of eight Civil War soldiers from Bangor or surrounding Penobscot County towns to receive the Medal of Honor.
Bangor's main Civil War naval hero was Charles A. Boutelle, who accepted the surrender of the Confederate fleet after the Battle of Mobile Bay. A Bangor residential street is named for him. A number of Bangor ships were captured on the high seas by Confederate raiders in the Civil War, including the "Delphine", "James Littlefield", "Mary E. Thompson" and "Golden Rocket".
Although Maine was the first "dry" state (i.e. the first to prohibit the sale of alcohol, with the passage of the "Maine law" in 1851), Bangor managed to remain "wet". The city had 142 saloons in 1890. A look-the-other-way attitude by local police and politicians (sustained by a system of bribery in the form of ritualized fine-payments known as "The Bangor Plan") allowed Bangor to flout the nation's most long-standing state prohibition law.
In 1900, Bangor was still shipping wooden spools to England and wooden fruit boxes to Italy. An average of 2,000 vessels called at Bangor each year. But its days as a lumber port were numbered, as the Maine woods began to be purchased by paper corporations, and large pulp and paper mills were erected in towns all along the Penobscot. Bangor businesses continued to prosper even as the lumber industry gave way to paper in the first quarter of the 20th century. Local capitalists also invested in a train route to Aroostook County in northern Maine (the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad), opening that area to settlement.
In 1909, Robert E. Peary, after leading the first expedition to reach the North Pole, returned by train to the United States from Canada, via Bangor, where he was treated to a reception and given an engraved silver cup. Peary's Arctic exploration ship, the Roosevelt, had been built just south of Bangor on Verona Island.
On April 30, 1911, embers from a hayshed near the Kenduskeag Stream ignited nearby buildings, sparking the Great Fire of 1911. The fire would destroy most of the downtown area, forever changing the face of the city, but as after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Bangor rose again and prospered. Most of the present downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Great Fire of 1911 Historic District, while the portion that survived the fire is the 'West Market Square Historic District'.
In 1913, the war of the "drys" (prohibitionists) on "wet" Bangor escalated when the Penobscot County Sheriff was impeached and removed by the Maine Legislature for not enforcing anti-liquor laws. His successor was asked to resign by the Governor the following year for the same reason, but refused. A third sheriff was removed by the Governor in 1918, but promptly re-nominated by the Democratic Party. Prohibitionist Carrie Nation had been forcibly expelled from the Bangor House hotel in 1902 after causing a disturbance.
In 1915, the German agent Werner Horn attempted to dynamite the international railroad bridge in Vanceboro but was captured and arraigned on federal charges in Bangor. Later that year, $100 million in British gold bullion was shipped by rail from Halifax to New York, over that same bridge and through Bangor, in order to pay war-related debts.
Bangor's Hinkley & Egery Ironworks (later Union Ironworks) was a local center for invention in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A new type of steam engine built there, named the "Endeavor", won a Gold Medal at the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of the American Institute in 1856. The firm won a diploma for a shingle-making machine the following year. In the 1920s, Union Iron Works engineer Don A. Sargent invented the first automotive snow plow. Sargent patented the device and the firm manufactured it for a national market.
In October 1937, "public enemy" Al Brady and another member of his "Brady Gang" (Clarence Shaffer) were killed in the bloodiest shootout in Maine's history. FBI agents ambushed Brady, Shaffer, and James Dalhover on Bangor's Central Street after they had attempted to purchase a Thompson submachinegun from Dakin's Sporting Goods downtown. Brady is buried in the public section of Mount Hope Cemetery, on the north side of Mount Hope Avenue. Until recently, Brady's grave was unmarked. A group of schoolchildren erected a wooden marker over his grave in the 1990s, which was replaced by a more permanent stone in 2007.
During the Second World War, Bangor's Dow Airfield (later Dow Air Force Base) became a major embarkation point for U.S. Army Air Force planes flying to and from Europe. Photographs and obituaries of 112 servicemen from Bangor who gave their lives in the war are preserved in the Book of Honor at the Bangor Public Library. There was also a small POW camp in Bangor for captured German soldiers, a satellite of the much larger Camp Houlton in northern Maine.
In November 1944, two German spies landed on the Maine coast by U-Boat and hitched a ride to Bangor, where they boarded a train to New York. They were eventually arrested and tried after an extensive Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) manhunt.
After the war, Dow Airfield became a Strategic Air Command Base, and was subsequently converted into the Bangor International Airport. Beginning in the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of international airline passengers, especially those on charter flights, cleared customs in Bangor as their planes refueled on the way from Europe to the interior of the United States or Mexico. The airport also became a major portal for returning troops in the Gulf War and Iraq War.
The destruction of downtown landmarks such as the old city hall and train station in the late 1960s Urban Renewal Program is now considered to have been a huge planning mistake. It ushered in a decline of the city center that was accelerated by the construction of the Bangor Mall in 1978 and subsequent big-box stores on the city's outskirts.
Downtown Bangor began to recover in the 1990s, with bookstores, cafe/restaurants, galleries, and museums filling once-vacant storefronts. The recent re-development of the city's waterfront has also helped re-focus cultural life in the historic center.
In 1992, Bangor was the launch site for the Chrysler Trans-Atlantic Challenge Balloon Race, which saw teams from five nations compete to reach Europe. The Belgians won, but the American team, blown off course, became the first to pilot a balloon from North America to Africa; it landed near Fez, Morocco, setting new endurance and distance records in the process.
Also in 1992, a series of NASA scientific research flights carried out from Bangor, using a converted U-2 spy plane, proved that the hole in the ozone layer had grown over the northern hemisphere. This discovery prompted an acceleration of the global phase-out of CFCs under the Copenhagen Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
Bangor is located at  According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 34.59 square miles (89.59 km2), of which 34.26 square miles (88.73 km2) is land and 0.33 square miles (0.85 km2) is water.(44.803, −68.770).
Geography has been both the city's prosperity and a limiting factor. The Penobscot River watershed above Bangor is both extensive and heavily forested, yet was too far north to attract American settlers intent on farming. These same conditions made it ideal for lumbering, along with deep winter snows that allowed logs to be easily dragged from the woods by horse-teams. Carried to the Penobscot or its tributaries, logs could be floated downstream with the spring thaw to waterfall-powered sawmills just above Bangor. The sawn lumber was then shipped from the city's docks, Bangor being at the head-of-tide (between the rapids and the ocean) to points anywhere in the world. The combination of forests and sheltered coves along the nearby Maine coast also fostered the development of a shipbuilding industry to serve the lumber trade.
Bangor had certain disadvantages compared to other East Coast ports, including its rival Portland, Maine. Being on a northern river, its port froze during the winter, and it could not take the largest ocean-going ships. The comparative lack of settlement in the forested hinterland also gave it a comparatively small home market.
Many of the same conditions that favored lumbering, however, were attractive to the pulp and paper industry which took over the Penobscot watershed in the 20th century. One large difference was transportation: the paper was shipped out, and the chemicals in, by railroad. The city began turning its back on the river as its train-yards became more important. The coming of the paper industry assured, however, that the Maine woods would remain unsettled for another century.
Bangor's other geographic advantage, not realizable until the mid-20th century, was that it lay along the most direct air-route between the U.S. East Coast and Europe (the Great Circle Route). The construction of an air-field in the 1930s, and its continual expansion under military auspices through the 1960s, eventually allowed the city to take full advantage of this geographic gift. Having the Canadian border close-by also helped. Bangor was the last American airport before Europe, or the first American airport one encountered flying in from Europe. The extension of air routes connecting Europe with the U.S. West Coast and the Caribbean in the 1970s–80s put Bangor very much in the middle as a refueling stop for charter aircraft. The subsequent development of longer-range jets began to reduce this advantage in the 1990s.
A potential advantage that has always eluded exploitation is the city's location between the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the rest of Canada (as well as New York). As early as the 1870s, the city promoted a Halifax-to-New York railroad, via Bangor, as the quickest connection between North America and Europe (when combined with steamship service between Britain and Halifax). A European and North American Railway was actually opened through Bangor, with President Ulysses S. Grant officiating at the inauguration, but commerce never lived up to the potential. More recent attempts to capture traffic between Halifax and Montreal by constructing an East–West Highway through Maine have also come to naught. Most overland traffic between the two parts of Canada continues to travel north of Maine rather than across it.
|Climate data for Bangor, Maine (Bangor Int'l), 1981–2010 normals|
|Record high °F (°C)||63|
|Average high °F (°C)||27.4|
|Average low °F (°C)||6.7|
|Record low °F (°C)||−29|
|Precipitation inches (mm)||2.78|
|Snowfall inches (cm)||20.2|
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.6||9.3||11.0||11.0||12.6||12.1||11.2||10.1||9.3||10.9||11.4||11.9||131.4|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||8.0||7.0||4.7||1.6||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.3||6.1||28.7|
|Source: NOAA (extremes 1925–present)|
As of 2012, the estimated population of the Bangor Metropolitan Area (which includes Penobscot County) is 153,746, indicating a slight growth rate since 2000, almost all of it accounted for by Bangor. As of 2007, Metro Bangor had a higher percentage of people with high school degrees than the national average (85%compared to 76.5%) and a slightly higher number of graduate degree holders (7.55% compared to 7.16%). It had much higher number of physicians per capita (291 vs. 170), because of the presence of two large hospitals
As of the census of 2010, there were 33,039 people, 14,475 households, and 7,182 families residing in the city. The population density was 964.4 inhabitants per square mile (372.4/km2). There were 15,674 housing units at an average density of 457.5 per square mile (176.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.1% White, 1.7% African American, 1.2% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.
There were 14,475 households of which 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.8% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 50.4% were non-families. 37.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.76.
The median age in the city was 36.7 years. 17.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 16% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26% were from 25 to 44; 25.8% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.
Bangor has been ranked high on several "best places" lists published by national magazines and websites. Examples include:
The Bangor Public Library, founded in 1883, traces its beginnings to 1830 and seven books in a footlocker. It now has a collection of more than 500,000 volumes, and regularly records one of the highest circulation rates in the country.
The University of Maine Museum of Art, located in Norumbega Hall in downtown Bangor, has a permanent collection of more than 6,500 pieces, including works by Berenice Abbott, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, John Marin, Carl Sprinchorn, and Andrew Wyeth. The Maine Discovery Museum, a major children's museum was founded in 2001 in the former Freese's Department Store. The Bangor Museum and Center for History, in addition to its exhibit space, maintains the historic Thomas A. Hill House. The Bangor Police Department boasts a police museum with some items dating to the 18th century. There is a Fire Museum at the former State Street Fire Station.
In 1989, the Cole Land Transportation Museum, the creation of the industrialist and philanthropist Galen Cole, opened to the public. In 2014, The Cole was rated by Trip Advisor as the No. 1 of fifteen tourist attractions in Bangor.
There are several performing arts venues and groups in the Bangor area. The Bangor Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1896, is the oldest continually operating symphony orchestra in the United States. The Bangor Band, founded in 1859 and performing continually since then, gives free weekly concerts in the city's parks during the summer, and counts among its past conductors noted march composer Robert B. Hall. The Penobscot Theatre Company, founded in 1973, is a professional theater company based in the historic Bangor Opera House. The Collins Center for the Arts, located at the nearby University of Maine, hosts a wide variety of touring performing artists and events. River City Cinema hosts a free outdoor summer film festival in downtown Bangor.
The University of Maine, the flagship campus of the University of Maine System, is located nine miles from Bangor in the town of Orono and adds significantly to the city's cultural life. There is also a vocationally oriented University College of Bangor, associated with the University of Maine at Augusta. Bangor's Husson University, founded in 1898, enrolls about 3,500 students a year in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Beal College, also in Bangor, is a small institution oriented toward career training. The Bangor Theological Seminary, founded in 1814, is the only accredited graduate school of religion in northern New England.
Bangor has a mostly 19th-century cityscape, and sections of the city are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has also had a municipal Historic Preservation Commission since the early 1980s.
The Thomas Hill Standpipe, a huge elegant shingle style structure, is visible from most parts of the city. Also prominent are the spires of the Hammond Street Congregational and Unitarian churches, built from similar designs by the Boston architectural firm Towle and Foster, and that of St. John's Catholic Church constructed around the same time. The Bangor House Hotel, now converted to apartments, is the only survivor among a series of "Palace Hotels" designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers, which were the first of their kind in the United States. Bangor also boasts the country's second oldest garden cemetery, the Mt. Hope Cemetery, designed by Charles G. Bryant.
Richard Upjohn, British-born architect and early promoter of the Gothic Revival style, received some of his first commissions in Bangor, including the Isaac Farrar House (1833), Samuel Farrar House (1836), Thomas A. Hill House (presently owned by the Bangor Museum & History Center), and St. John's Church (Episcopal, 1836–39). The latter was designed just prior to his most famous commission, Trinity Church in New York City. Upjohn was a founding member of the American Institute of Architects and its first president (1857–76).
Other local landmarks include the Bangor Public Library by Peabody and Stearns; All Soul's Congregational Church by Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson; the Wheelwright Block by Benjamin S. Deane; and The Eastern Maine Insane Hospital by John Calvin Stevens. Bangor also contains many impressive Greek Revival. Victorian, and Colonial Revival houses, some of which are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The most photographed is the William Arnold House of 1856, Bangor's largest Italianate style mansion and home to author Stephen King. Its wrought-iron fence with bat and spider web motif is King's own addition.
A portion of the city center, which largely resulted from rebuilding following the Great Fire of 1911, is preserved as the Great Fire of 1911 Historic District.
In the category "roadside architecture", Bangor has a huge, famous fiberglass-over-metal statue of mythical lumberman Paul Bunyan by Normand Martin (1959), and one of only two Howard Johnson's restaurants left in the country.
There are three large bronze statues in downtown Bangor by sculptor Charles Eugene Tefft of Brewer, including the Luther H. Peirce Memorial, commemorating the Penobscot River Log-Drivers; a statue of Hannibal Hamlin at Kenduskeag Mall; and an image of "Lady Victory" at Norumbega Parkway.
The abstract aluminum sculpture "Continuity of Community" (1969) on the Bangor Waterfront, formerly in West Market Square, is by the Castine sculptor Clark Battle Fitz-Gerald (1917–2004) whose works also stand at Coventry Cathedral, Independence Hall, and Columbia University.
The U.S. Post Office in Bangor contains the three-part mural "Autumn Expansion" (1980) by noted artist Yvonne Jacquette.
Ironically, this city associated with the novels of Stephen King is among the safest in the United States. Its crime rate is the second-lowest among American metropolitan areas of comparable size.
In 2007, the city banned smoking in automobiles when people under 18 are present, under penalty of a $50 fine. According to the New York Times, Bangor is "believed to be the first city to outlaw smoking in cars with children."
Since 1931, Bangor has had a Council-Manager form of government. The nine-member City Council is a non-partisan body, with three city councilors elected to three-year terms each year. The nine council members elect the Chair of the City Council, who is referred to informally as the mayor, and plays the role when there is a ceremonial need.
In 2012, Bangor's City Council passed an order in support of same-sex marriage in Maine. The City of Bangor also signed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court calling for the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be struck down.
As of 2013, the council members are Nelson Durgin, Patricia Blanchette, Joseph Baldacci, David Nealley, Ben Sprague, James Gallant, Pauline Civiello, Gibran Graham, and Joshua Plourde, with Sprague serving as Chair.
Bangor has produced nine Governors of Maine (tied with Augusta for most by a Maine city): William D. Williamson, Edward Kent, Hannibal Hamlin, Harris M. Plaisted, Frederick W. Plaisted, Frederic H. Parkhurst, Robert Haskell, John McKernan, and John Baldacci. A number of others were born in or lived in suburban towns such as Brewer, Hampden, and Orono.
Bangor has two major secondary schools, the public Bangor High School and the private John Bapst Memorial High School. There are also two public middle schools and one private, and an extensive elementary school system. In 2013, Bangor High School was named a National Silver Award winner by US News & World Report's "America's Best High Schools". In 2012, John Bapst Memorial High School was ranked in the top 20% nationally by the Washington Post High School Challenge.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 2014|
One of the country's oldest fairs, the Bangor State Fair has occurred annually for more than 150 years. Beginning on the last Friday of July, it features agricultural exhibits, carnival attractions, and live performances.
From 2002 to 2004, Bangor hosted the National Folk Festival. In August 2005, the annual American Folk Festival began on the city's waterfront. In 2009, the first annual KahBang Music Art & Film Festival was held on the historic waterfront, bringing international artists to the city to show the latest in independent art trends. The annual Bangor Book Festival brings Maine writers together at the Bangor Public Library and other venues.
The Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, a celebrated white-water event which begins just north of Bangor in the town of Kenduskeag, has been held annually for 40 years. Since 2002, Bangor has hosted the Senior League World Series. Bangor also hosts an annual Soapbox Derby race, and a Paul Bunyan marathon.
Bangor-area event centers include the Cross Insurance Center (which replaced the historic Bangor Auditorium in 2013), Darling's Waterfront Pavilion, and the Collins Center for the Arts in nearby Orono.
The Bangor region has a large number of media outlets for an area its size. The city has an unbroken history of newspaper publishing extending from 1815. Almost thirty dailies, weeklies, and monthlies had been launched there by the end of the Civil War .
The Bangor Daily News was founded in the late 19th century, and is one of the few remaining family-owned newspapers left in the United States.
Bangor Metro, founded in 2005, is the area's glossy business, lifestyle, and opinion magazine. The alternative/lifestyle weekly The Maine Edge also publishes in the city.
Bangor has more than a dozen radio stations and seven television stations, including WLBZ 2 (NBC), WABI 5 (CBS), WVII 7 (ABC), WBGR 33, and WFVX-LD 22 (Fox). WMEB 12, licensed to nearby Orono, is the area's PBS member station. Radio stations in the city include WKIT-FM and WZON, owned by Zone Radio Corporation, a company owned by Bangor resident novelist Stephen King. WHSN is a non-commercial alternative rock station licensed to Bangor and run and operated by staff and students at the New England School of Communications located on the campus of Husson University. Several other stations in the market are owned by Blueberry Broadcasting and Cumulus Media.
The Eastern Maine High school basketball Tournament is held each February at the Bangor Auditorium, drawing fans from central, eastern and northern Maine. The nearby University of Maine fields teams in football, ice hockey, baseball, and men's and women's basketball.
Bangor High School's boys and girls swim teams have won more state championships than any other "class A" high school in the state. Its baseball and basketball teams have the highest total of first- or second-place finishes; its football team shares that record with South Portland.
Bangor Raceway at the Bass Park Civic Center and Auditorium offers live, pari-mutuel harness racing from May through July and then briefly in the fall. Hollywood Slots, operated by Penn National Gaming, is Maine's first slot machine gambling center. In 2007, construction began on a $131-million casino complex in Bangor that houses, among other things, a gambling floor with about 1,000 slot machines, an off-track betting center, a seven-story hotel, and a four-level parking garage. In 2011, it was authorized to add table games.
Since 2002, Bangor has been home to Little League International's Senior League World Series.
Bangor was home to two minor league baseball teams affiliated with the 1995-98 Northeast League: the Bangor Blue Ox (1996–97) and the Bangor Lumberjacks (2003–04). Even earlier the Bangor Millionaires (1894–96) played in the New England League.
Vince McMahon promoted his first professional wrestling event in Bangor in 1979. In 1985, the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship changed hands for the first time outside of Puerto Rico at an IWCCW show in Bangor.
Outdoor activities in the Bangor City Forest and other nearby parks, forests, and waterways include hiking, sailing, canoeing, hunting, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
The Penobscot has long been the premier salmon-fishing river in Maine; the Bangor Salmon Pool traditionally sent the first fish caught to the President of the United States. From 1999 to 2006, low fish stocks resulted in a ban on salmon fishing. Today, the wild salmon population (and the sport) is slowly recovering. The Penobscot River Restoration Project is working to help the fish population by removing some dams north of Bangor.
Bangor is home to two large hospitals, the Eastern Maine Medical Center and the Catholic-affiliated St. Joseph Hospital. As of 2012, the Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area (Penobscot County) ranked in the top fifth for physicians per capita nationally (74th of 381). It is also within the top ten in the Northeast (i.e. north of Pennsylvania) and the top five in New England. In 2013 U.S. News and World Report ranked the Eastern Maine Medical Center as the second best hospital in Maine.
Bangor sits along interstates I-95 and I-395; U.S. highways US 1A, US 2, US Route 2A; and state routes SR 9, SR 15, SR 15 Business, SR 100, SR 202, and SR 222. Three major bridges connect the city to neighboring Brewer: Joshua Chamberlain Bridge (carrying US 1A), Penobscot River Bridge (carrying SR 15), and the Veterans Remembrance Bridge (carrying I-395).
Five major airlines offer over 60 flights a day to and from Bangor International Airport, giving the city non-stop service to Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Orlando, and seasonal non-stop service to New York's LaGuardia Airport and Minneapolis. Most of the major car rental companies have desks at the airport.
Daily intercity bus service from Bangor proper is provided by two companies. Concord Coach Lines connects Bangor with Augusta, Portland, several towns in Maine's midcoast region, and Boston, Massachusetts. Cyr Bus Lines provides daily service to Caribou and several northern Maine towns along I-95 and Route 1.
The area is also served by Greyhound, which operates out of Dysart's Truck Stop in neighboring Hermon.
Freight service is provided by Pan Am Railways.
Passenger rail service was provided most recently by the New Brunswick Southern Railway, which discontinued its route to Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1994.
Although Dow Air Force Base has been the city-owned Bangor International Airport since 1969, the US military and the Maine Air National Guard continue to house units there and share the runway. These include the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the United States Air Force (USAF) and its 132nd Air Refueling Squadron, which mostly fly KC-135 tanker planes. The 132nd, which has been based in Bangor since 1947, and calls itself “The MAINEiacs”, was a fighter squadron until 1976.
In 1990, the USAF East Coast Radar System (ECRS) Operation Center was activated in Bangor with over 400 personnel. The center controlled the Over-The-Horizon Backscatter (OTH-B) radar system, whose transmitter was in Moscow, Maine, and receiver in coastal Columbia Falls. Designed and built by General Electric, and incorporating 28 Digital Equipment VAX computers housed in Bangor, it was the most powerful radar in the world, capable of monitoring virtually the entire North Atlantic, from Iceland to the Caribbean. A similar system on the West Coast was built but never activated. With the end of the Cold War, the facility's mission of guarding against a Soviet air attack became superfluous, and though it briefly turned its attention toward drug interdiction, the system was decommissioned in 1997 as an expensive Cold War relic, as the SSPARS system installation — the successor to the PAVE PAWS installation — in Massachusetts' Cape Cod Air Force Station reservation fully took over from that time onwards.
In 1960–64, Bangor had a similar experience as one of a dozen BOMARC anti-aircraft missile bases. Abandoned by the Air Force four years after construction, the fortified concrete missile bunkers long survived as ghostly landmarks, and a deactivated BOMARC missile was briefly mounted, statue-like, next to Paul Bunyan at Bass Park. Today the BOMARC site has been turned into an industrial park which is home to Hartt Trucking and the locally famous Bean's Meats as well as a number of small businesses and organizations that occupy the former missile bunkers.
Bangor or its alter ego Derry are the fictional settings for so many novels and stories by Stephen King that the city has become the capital of Transylmainia, a gothic horror-scape King invented largely by himself (with some help from the 1960s television show Dark Shadows). Bangor locations were featured most prominently in King's novel It.
Bangor is the home of the protagonist in John Guare's famous play Landscape of the Body. In Henry James' short story A Bundle of Letters, Miranda Hope from Bangor is a tourist in Paris. Billy Barry, the fictional hero in Horace Porter's Young Aeroplane Scouts novel series of 1916–19, is also from Bangor, as is Edward Wozny, the protagonist in Lew Grossman's 2004 novel Codex, and Sir Kevin Dean de Courtney MacNair in Hayford Peirce's time-travel novel Napoleon Disentimed. The character Teresa Bruckham is a horror novelist from Bangor in Lily Strange's novel Lost Beneath the Surface. The character Dr. Benjamin Northcote is Bangor's city coroner, and part of the crime-fighting team in Kathy Lynn Emerson's Diana Spaulding Mystery series.
Bangor is the setting for Christina Baker Kline's 1999 novel Desire Lines. The 1988 novel Pink Chimneys by Ardeana Hamlin Knowles, is set in 19th century Bangor. The Big House by Mildred Wasson, published in 1926, describes a wealthy family in decline in early 20th century Bangor (renamed 'Hamlin'). Owen Davis' Pulitzer Prize winning 1923 play Icebound is set in neighboring Veazie. Bangor is also one location in the 1992 novel Prussian Blue by Tom Hyman.
A "frolicsome night place" in Bangor called "The Sea Hag" figures incidentally in the Tennessee Williams short-story Sabbatha and Solitude. In Rudyard Kipling's and Wolcott Balestier's The Naulahka: A Story of East and West, a family of missionaries in India hails from Bangor (and even has their maple syrup delivered from home). Henry David Thoreau's The Maine Woods includes this passage describing Bangor: "Like a star at the edge of the night, still hewing the forests of which it is built, already overflowing with the luxuries and refinements of Europe, and sending its vessels to Spain, to England, to the West Indies for its groceries"
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale begins with the discovery of a footlocker full of cassette tapes in the ruins of what was once Bangor, a prominent way-station on "The Underground Femaleroad" in the dystopic Republic of Gilead.
Marguerite Beaulieu's French-language story Bangor, Maine, USA was published in Horrifique 13 (1994)
Robert Lowell's Flying from Bangor to Rio 1957 was written at the poet's summer house in nearby Castine, Maine about the experience of seeing off his friend, the poet Elizabeth Bishop at the Bangor Airport. The home of Junior in Everything Matters
Bangor, Maine is steeped in musical history. Reverend Seth Noble named Bangor in 1791 for the popular hymn tune of his day, written by William Tans'ur and first published in 1734 in London. Paul Revere and Josiah Flagg did an engraving and printed and published it in Boston in 1764; A COLLECTION OF THE BEST PSALM TUNES. This publication shows that the popularity of the BANGOR TUNE qualified it for an earlier Bostonian version of our current "Top 10 List" of popular songs. The BANGOR TUNE was also very popular in Scotland and has been mistakenly called a Scottish psalm tune. It was so popular that Robert Burns mentioned it in his famous poem, "The Ordination." It was also performed at the funeral service for President George Washington in 1799 in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Bangor is mentioned in King of the Road, a country song by Roger Miller. The line goes "Third boxcar, midnight train. Destination: Bangor, Maine." Southbound Train by Travis Tritt has a similar reference. This formula—using rhyming Maine and train, and Bangor as an edge destination—first appeared in the popular 1871 song Riding Down From Bangor (or Riding Up From Bangor) by Louis Shreve Osborne. The lyric goes: "Riding down from Bangor in an eastern train, after six weeks of hunting in the woods of Maine." It was recorded in Britain and South Africa, though never in the United States. A fragment of the lyric (changed to "Riding down from Bangor on the midnight train...") appears in the quodlibet of the arrangement for orchestra and chorus of Charles Ives's song "The Circus Band," though apparently with a different melody. George Orwell wrote about the song in his 1946 essay Riding Down from Bangor. As a child, he remembered, "my picture of nineteenth-century America was given greater precision by a song which is still fairly well known and which can be found (I think) in the Scottish Student's Song Book." The most recent play on this formula was a song by Garrison Keillor, sung on his radio show Prairie Home Companion on May 3, 2008, which went "Bangor Maine, Bangor Maine; Take a boat or ride the train; Take a slicker, it might rain; In Bangor, Maine"
Bangor is named in the North American version of I've Been Everywhere by Lucky Starr. How 'bout them Cowgirls by George Strait includes the line "I've crisscrossed down to Key Biscayne, and Chi-town via Bangor, Maine. George also mentions Bangor in his song "Brothers of the Highway" off of his Grammy award winning album Troubadour."
The Rooftops of Bangor by the Minneapolis indie group The God Damn Doo Wop Band was inspired by a line in a love letter to member Katie (Kat) Naden.
Old Town native Patty Griffin mentions a "bus that's going to Bangor" in the first line of her autobiographical song Burgundy Shoes from her 2007 Grammy Award-nominated album Children Running Through.
The song Band of Brothers by Dierks Bentley also mentions Bangor. The lyrics go "From the bars of San Diego to the county fair way up in Bangor, Maine".
The Bogeyman from Bangor, Maine is a cut on Norwegian rock band Titanic's 1992 Lower the Atlantic album.
Several movie versions of Stephen King's stories have been filmed in and around Bangor. The Langoliers was set and filmed in part at Bangor International Airport. Pet Sematary and Graveyard Shift include scenes filmed at Mt. Hope Cemetery and The Bangor Water Works. Creepshow 2 includes scenes filmed in Bangor, Brewer, and nearby Dexter, Maine. In the 1996 film Thinner King himself plays a character named "Dr. Bangor". The 1984 movie Firestarter, based on a King novel, held its world premiere at the Bangor Cinema, with King, Drew Barrymore and Dino de Laurentiis in attendance.
The fictional town of Collinsport, Maine, the setting for 1960s gothic TV soap opera Dark Shadows, was 50 miles from Bangor, according to the script of the first episode. The equally fictional "Bangor Pine Hotel" was a location in two first-season scenes. Likewise, The Dead Zone, a series based on the Stephen King novel, takes place in a fictional suburb of Bangor called Cleaves Mills.
In 1987 Late Night with David Letterman conducted an on-air campaign to get Bangor to watch Dave, after discovering he had unusually low ratings there. He even resorted to reading random names from the local phonebook.
Julie "The Cat" Gaffney from The Mighty Ducks (film series) is from Bangor.
The Canadian television series Trailer Park Boys featured a train convention in Bangor on the season 7 episode "Friends of the Road".
A series of Saturday Night Live sketches, titled "Maine Justice", feature Bangor.
In episode 9, season 2 of the television comedy "Louie", Louie's estranged friend Eddie mentions travelling to Bangor.
MODOK, the villainous Marvel Comics character, was created from the benign lab technician George Tarleton, a native of Bangor. The G.I. Joe character Sneak Peek is also from Bangor, along with Crystal Ball's mother. The location of DC Comics second Dial H for Hero series is a suburb of Bangor.
The earliest documented recipe for chocolate brownies referred to them as Bangor Brownies. Fanny Farmer invented "brownies" in her 1896 cookbook, but these were molasses-flavored, had a nut on top, and were baked in individual pans. The first recipe for what we'd recognize today as chocolate brownies was published in the Boston Daily Globe on April 2, 1905, pg. 34 and read:
Cream 1/2 cup butter, add 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 2 squares of chocolate (melted), 1/2 cup broken walnuts meats, 1/2 cup flour. Spread thin in buttered pans. Bake in moderate oven, and cut before cold.
The 1907 Lowney's Cook Book, published by the Walter Lowney Chocolate Co., contained two chocolate brownie recipes. The one with extra chocolate, and baked in a pan, it also called "Bangor Brownies". The use of the term in printed recipes continued into the 1950s.
The Appledore Cookbook of 1872 included a recipe for "Bangor Cake", repeated in the Woman's Suffragette Cookbook of 1886, and others as late as 1916.
Two varieties of plum, the "Mclaughlin" and the "Penobscot", were first identified in the garden of John Mclaughlin of Bangor in 1846, and publicized the same year in A. J. Downing's The Horticulturalist. The Mclaughlin had become the most prominent American-cultivated plum by the 1850s, surpassing all others in its "rich and luscious flavor" according to the Magazine of Horticulture. Both continue to be grown throughout North America and Europe.
The first vessel built in Bangor was the schooner Susannah, laid down in 1791 and launched in 1793, around the time of the city's incorporation. The ship was built a short distance below the Penjejawock stream not far from the Eastern Maine Medical Center parking lot. Built by Robert Treat, it was known as the "Treat ship" until it was purchased in 1793 by Robert Hichborn of Fort Point (now known as Stockton Springs), and came to be called a Hichborn packet. Built to haul lumber, fish poultry and butter to the Boston markets, it reportedly made at least two voyages to Liverpool, England, with cargoes of lumber. It was on its way to be sold in Boston when it struck rocks off Boon Island on October 20, 1798. All aboard were lost at sea, including members of well-known families, sending shock waves from Bangor to Boston.
The first ocean-going iron-hulled steamship in the U.S. was named The Bangor. She was built by the Harlan and Hollingsworth firm of Wilmington, Delaware in 1844, and was intended to take passengers between Bangor and Boston. On her second voyage, however, in 1845, she burned to the waterline off Castine. She was rebuilt at Bath, returned briefly to her earlier route, but was soon purchased by the U.S. government for use in the Mexican-American War.
An earlier steamship named Bangor had been built in 1833 for the Boston & Bangor Steamship Co. by Bell & Brown of New York. She was in service till 1842, when she was bought by a Turkish company, renamed the "Sudaver", and used as a ferry in Istanbul (then Constantinople).
A four-masted schooner named The Bangor was also built in Eureka, California, in 1891. The City of Bangor was an Eastern Steamship Co. steamer, built 1894 in East Boston, that connected Bangor and Boston on a daily run in the early 20th century. The Tacoma class frigate USS Bangor (PF-16), launched in 1943, escorted North Atlantic convoys during World War II.
Two businesses listed on the New York Stock Exchange have used "Bangor" in their names. The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad was founded in Bangor in 1891. In 1964, it merged with the Boston-owned but Cuba-based Punta Alegre Sugar Corp., forming Bangor Punta Alegre Sugar (renamed Bangor Punta in 1967). Two years later, the railroad was sold on the advice of company director Curtis Hutchins, a former B&A president. Managed by Hungarian-American financier Nicolas Salgo (who also built the Watergate complex in Washington), and with Bangorean Hutchins still on the board, the company became a classic 1960s conglomerate, accumulating such diverse holdings as the arms-maker Smith and Wesson, Piper Aircraft, and a number of yacht-makers. It was on the Fortune 500 List for most of its existence. Salgo was bought out in 1974 and the corporation dissolved in 1984.
Bangor has been a banking center since the 1830s. The Bangor Savings Bank, founded in 1852, is Maine's largest independent bank; as of 2013, it had more than $2.8 billion in assets and the largest share of the 13-bank Bangor market.
The Great Fire of 1911 was Bangor’s most spectacular catastrophe, but other natural disasters and accidents have occurred there, often with greater loss of life (only two were killed in the Great Fire). The most recurrent problem, besides fire, was the formation of ice dams, which can cause spring floods on the Penobscot River, a situation that's resolved itself with warmer winters. The only destructive flood since the 1930s (in 1976) was caused by a storm at sea.
Notable incidents include:
1798: The shipwreck of the Bangor built schooner Susannah. This was the first vessel built in Bangor in 1791 and launched in 1793 in the Robert Treat Shipyard. It reportedly hit rocks off of Boon Island or off the coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts on a voyage to Boston. Parts of the ship and articles of the passengers were recovered off Halibut Point near Cape Ann, including the chest of clothing of S. Noble, Jr., son of Rev. Seth Noble. Friends and family of Paul Revere were also on this vessel, including members of the Hichborn family on route to the marriage of Susannah Hichborn. Twenty passengers and crew all died at sea. The Master of the ship was Captain Daniel Jameson, who lived at the time of his death in Bangor (today Orono) near Jameson Falls. This shipwreck was the Titanic of its day and it sent shock waves from Bangor to Boston because of the famous passengers who lost their lives.
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