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|— City —|
|City of Bangor|
|Nickname(s): The Queen City of the East|
|Penobscot County, Maine|
|Incorporated||February 12, 1834|
|• City Manager||Catherine Conlow|
|• City||34.7 sq mi (90.0 km2)|
|• Land||34.4 sq mi (89.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)|
|Elevation||118 ft (36 m)|
|• City||35,473 (city proper)|
|• Density||939/sq mi (362.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0561558|
|Airport||Bangor International Airport – BGR (County/State)|
Bangor ( // BANG-gor) is a city in and the county seat of Penobscot County, Maine, United States, and the major commercial and cultural center for eastern and northern Maine. It is also the principal city of the Bangor, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area which 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. The population of the city was 35,473 at the 2010 census. The population of the Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area is approximately 154,000. The population of the five-county area (Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, Aroostook, and Washington) for which Bangor is the largest market town, distribution center, transportation hub, and media center, is over 330,000 people.
Bangor is approximately 30 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. Other suburban towns include 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 which 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 by which the Penobscot were made to give up almost all their ancestral lands, a process complete by about 1820, when Maine became a state. The tribe was eventually left with only their main village on an island up-river 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.
During the American Revolution in 1779, the rebel Penobscot Expedition fled up the Penobscot River after being routed in the Battle of Castine, Maine, 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 river-bed, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Having grown in size to 567 people, Condeskeag determined to incorporate as a town in 1791. As legend has it, the settlers sent the Rev. Seth Noble to Boston with a petition to name the town "Sunbury" (at the time, Maine was part of Massachusetts). Noble's favorite song was a hymn tune by William Tans'ur entitled Bangor (after the Antiphonary of Bangor), and he caused the town to be given that name instead.
The town was sacked by the British during the War of 1812. following the rout of local militia in the Battle of Hampden. After the selectmen surrendered the town, the British raided shops and homes for 30 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 by 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.
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 300–400) were actually upriver in neighboring towns like Orono, Old Town, Bradley, and Milford, with Bangor controlling 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 in the Gold Rush period, 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). 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 which lasted 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 caused 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.[verification needed]
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 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. He only resumed publishing after the war.
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 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. The transition from lumber to paper was completed in the first quarter of the 20th century, though Bangor businesses continued to prosper by serving the paper industry. 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, forever changing the face of the city, but as in the case of the more famous 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, a 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 returning from Europe. Photographs and obituaries of 112 servicemen from Bangor who gave their lives in the war are preserved in '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 who had been landed on the Maine coast by U-Boat 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.
In the post-war period 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, ushering a decline of the city center that was only 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, however, 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 competing 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 critically grown over the northern hemisphere, prompting an acceleration of the global phase-out of CFCs (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 34.7 square miles (90 km2), of which 34.5 square miles (89 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (0.86%) is water.(44.803, −68.770).
Geography has been both the city's prosperity, and a limiting factor in its growth. 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 which 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 sawmills on waterfalls (water-power driving the sawblades) 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 needing wood. The combination of forests and sheltered coves along the nearby Maine coast also fostered the development of a ship-building industry to service 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 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, allowed the city to eventually 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 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 the city is its location between the Canadian port city of Halifax 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 recently 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|
|Record high °F (°C)||58
|Average high °F (°C)||27.6
|Average low °F (°C)||8.3
|Record low °F (°C)||−29
|Precipitation inches (mm)||3.34
|Snowfall inches (cm)||17.7
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.2||7.9||10.3||10.7||9.5||11.2||10.5||8.5||10.5||10.4||9.9||10.6||120.2|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||7.4||6.8||5.5||2.2||0||0||0||0||0||.1||1.7||6.7||30.4|
|Source no. 1: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000) |
|Source no. 2: Weather.com (extremes) |
As of the census of 2000, there were 31,473 people, 13,713 households, and 7,185 families residing in the city. The population density was 913.7 people per square mile (352.7/km²). There were 14,587 housing units at an average density of 423.5 per square mile (163.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.96% White, 1.02% African American, 0.98% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.05% of the population.
Of Bangor's 13,713 households, 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.0% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 37.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.81.
21.3% of Bangor's population was under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.
The median household income in the city was $29,740, and the median income for a family was $42,047. Males had a median income of $32,314 versus $23,759 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,295. About 11.9% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2007, the population of the Bangor Metropolitan Area (which includes Penobscot and parts of Waldo and Hancock Counties) is 147,180, indicating a 1.56 growth rate since 2000, almost all of it accounted for by Bangor. 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 no. of physicians per capita (291 vs. 170), because of the presence of two large hospitals.
The Bangor Public Library, founded in 1883, traces its beginnings to 1830 and seven books in a simple footlocker. It now has a collection of over 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 over 6500 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 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.
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 9 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 approximately 3500 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 fascinating, 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 St. 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, 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 Historical Society), and St. John's Church (Episcopal, 1836–39). The later 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 Brewer sculptor Charles Eugene Tefft, 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) 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.
Beginning 19 January 2007 the city has banned smoking in automobiles if children under 18 are present. Offenders can be fined $50 under the ordinance. According to the New York Times, Bangor is "believed to be the first city to outlaw smoking in cars with children."
Bangor has had a Council-Manager form of government since 1931, with a nine-member City Council. Three city councilors are elected to three-year terms each year. Although Bangor has no elected "Mayor", the Chair of the City Council is elected by fellow councilors and often informally referred to as the City's Mayor.
In 1996, Bangor's City Council was the first in North America to unanimously approve a resolution opposing the sale of sweat-shop produced clothing in local stores.
Bangor and Augusta have together produced the largest number of Governors of Maine (nine each, including two non-consecutive terms by Edward Kent). This list includes immediate past governor, Democrat John Baldacci, and the last Republican governor, John McKernan. A number of others were born or lived in suburban towns such as Brewer, Hampden, and Orono.
Bangor has two major secondary schools, the publicly run 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.
The Bangor State Fair, held starting the last Friday of each July, for more than 150 years, is one of the country's oldest fairs, featuring agricultural exhibits, carnival attractions, and live performances.
In 2002, 2003, and 2004, Bangor was the host of the National Folk Festival. In August 2005, the newly created American Folk Festival began as an annual event 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 showcase the latest in independent art trends. The annual Bangor Book Festival brings Maine-based 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 the last 40 years. Since 2002, Bangor has been the host of the Senior League World Series. Bangor also hosts an annual Soapbox Derby race, and a Paul Bunyan marathon.
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 30 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 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 major college sports teams in football, ice hockey, baseball, and men's and women's basketball. Bangor has also been home to two minor league baseball teams in the past decade: the Bangor Blue Ox (1996–1997) and the Bangor Lumberjacks (2003–2004). Both were affiliated with the Northeast League that existed under that name from 1995–1998.
Bangor High School sports teams are traditionally strong competitors. In the state "class A" division of both baseball and basketball, Bangor holds the record for number of combined champion and runner-up placements. In football they share that record with South Portland. Both the boy's and the girl's swim teams have also tallied the most state-wide wins.
Bangor Raceway, located at the Bass Park Civic Center and Auditorium, offers live, pari-mutuel harness racing from May through July and then briefly in the fall. Also, nearby 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 gaming floor featuring approximately 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 has also been of historical importance to professional wrestling. Vince McMahon promoted his very first wrestling event in Bangor in 1979. In 1985, the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship changed hands for the first time outside of Puerto Rico in Bangor at an IWCCW show.
The Bangor City Forest and other nearby parks, forests and waterways support a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, sailing, canoeing, hunting, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
The Penobscot has always been the premier salmon-fishing river in Maine, and the Bangor Salmon Pool traditionally sent the first fish caught to the President of the United States. Low fish stocks resulted in a ban on salmon fishing in 1999–2006 but the wild salmon population (and the sport) is slowly recovering. The Penobscot River Restoration Project is presently working to help the fish population by removing certain dams north of Bangor.
Bangor is located along I-95, US 1, US 2, and State Route 15. I-395 branches from I-95 and runs to the east. Three major bridges, Joshua Chamberlain Bridge (US 1a), Penobscot River Bridge (SR-15) and the Veterans Remembrance Bridge (I-395) connect Bangor to its neighbor Brewer.
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 bus service provided by six companies connects Bangor with nearly all large surrounding towns and cities in Maine, as well as with Boston; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and St. John, New Brunswick.
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 Mainiacs”, 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.
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.
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 passages 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.
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 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".
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 Laurentis 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.
The title character in the 2004 TV movie Celeste in the City was from Bangor.
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".
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. When Spider-Man test-drove the [[Spider-Man's powers and equipment#Spider-Mobile|Spider-M
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 2 April 1905, pg. 34 and read:
BANGOR BROWNIES. 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 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, which operated between 1891 and 2003 was founded by local capitalists and originally had its offices in Bangor. In 1964 it merged with the Boston-owned but Cuba-based Punta Alegre Sugar Corp., forming Bangor Punta Alegre Sugar or after 1967 just Bangor Punta. On the advice of BP Director and former president of the B&A Curtis Hutchins, the railroad was sold in 1969, but Bangor Punta, managed by Hungarian-American financier Nicolas Salgo (who also built the Watergate complex in Washington), and with Bangorean Hutchins still on the board, 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.
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 causing 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:
1832: A cholera epidemic in St. John, New Brunswick (part of the Second cholera pandemic) sent as many as 800 poor Irish immigrants walking to Bangor. This was the beginning of Maine's first substantial Irish-Catholic community. Competition with yankees for jobs would cause a riot and resulting fire in 1833.
1846: The “Great Freshet”, or spring flood, was the most destructive of the 19th century, carrying away the Penobscot River covered bridge, two bridges over the Kenduskeag Stream, and inundating a hundred shops and many houses. Its cause was the sudden release of a massive, 4-mile-long ice dam. There were no casualties.
1856: A large fire destroyed at least 10 downtown businesses and 8 houses, as well as the sherriff's office.
1858: The floor of an auction store in Bangor gave way, sending 200 men, women, and children into the building's cellar. Many were injured but none killed.
1869: The West Market Square fire, from which arose The Phoenix Block (the present Charles Inn). The fire destroyed 10 business blocks and cut off telegraphic communication 
1872: A smallpox epidemic closed local schools.
1889: Forest fires in surrounding towns enveloped Bangor in smoke.
1895: Another Penobscot flood
1896: The barkentine Thomas J. Stewart of Bangor was lost at sea in a hurricane with all hands (11 men) somewhere between New York and Boston The ship was named after one of Bangor's principle entrepreneurs, the owner of a large fleet of ocean-going vessels.
1898: A Maine Central Railroad train crashed near Orono killing 2 and fatally injuring 4. The president of the railroad and his wife were also on board in a private car, but escaped injury. Train Wrecked in Maine
1898: The steamer Pentagoet of the Manhattan Line was lost in a gale between New York City and Bangor with all 16 hands. In the same storm, two schooners sailing from Bangor to Fall River, Massachusetts loaded with lumber, the William Slater and Oriole were similarly lost with no survivors.
1899: The collapse of a gangway between a train and a waiting ferry at Mount Desert sent 200 members of a Bangor excursion party into the water, drowning 20.
1902: Another great spring flood, caused by an ice dam, detached the middle section of the Penobscot River railroad bridge from its foundations and sent it crashing through the wooden covered pedestrian bridge down-stream, cutting all connections with Brewer.
1903: The Bangor-based schooner Willie L. Newton turned turtle (upside down) in a storm off Connecticut, with loss of all hands (7 men).
1908: Forest fires burned in surrounding towns. 1,000 men fought them within a 35-mile radius of Bangor.
1908: Bangor's first automobile accident claimed the life of 10-year-old Freddie O'Conner, who ran in front of a chauffer-driven Pope Hartford which was running down State Street without its lights at dusk.
1911: The Great Fire of 1911
1914: The Bangor Opera House burned down, and two firemen were killed by a collapsing wall. A third was badly injured, and three others less seriously.
1918: The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which was global in scope, struck over a thousand Bangoreans and killed more than a hundred. This was the worst 'natural disaster' in the city's history.
1923: The Penobscot flooded again.
1928: Tiger-tamer Mabel Stark while performing in the John Robinson Circus in Bangor, was attacked by two of her tigers and severely mauled in front of a large crowd. She survived, and went on to survive 17 more tiger attacks, though none as bad as the one in Bangor.
1936: For the last time, an ice dam on the Penobscot caused serious flooding in Bangor.
1937: Al Brady, a armed robber and murderer is shot dead in a shoot out with his accomplice, ending The Brady Gang
1938: A short earthquake on August 22 broke glass and crockery across the city, and cut telephone service in some areas for 15–20 minutes. It was felt more strongly in Brewer.
1941: First fatal crash of a military aircraft in Maine, when a B-18 Bolo Bomber stationed at Bangor Army Airfield went down in nearby Springfield, Maine, killing all 4 crew. Between 1941 and 1971, there would be 14 additional fatal crashes of military aircraft based in Bangor, 3 within city limits and the rest in small towns or wilderness areas between the north woods and the coast.
1947: A fire in the municipal power station caused a city-wide electrical blackout
1976: A coastal Northeaster, known as The Groundhog Day gale of 1976 caused a surge up the Penobscot River, resulting in a flash flood downtown which covered 200 cars and closed both bridges to Brewer. No one was injured but it caused $2 million in property damage.
1984: Charlie Howard was thrown from a bridge and murdered for being gay.
1998: The North American Ice Storm of 1998. Bangor was among a few metropolitan areas in the United States affected by this freakish storm, which was a major natural disaster for Canada. Electricity was knocked out for more than a week in some areas as all trees, utility poles, and other objects were coated with a glistening layer of ice.
West Broadway / Whitney Park
Chapin Park (Tree Streets)
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