Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maine Minutiae : The Queen City

The Queen City
One thing different about living in New England compared to Texas is the size difference in the rivers between here and there. What we call a river back home, is called a stream up here. There are actual cities built along side the rivers - like Bangor, the third largest city in Maine. The first recorded history of Bangor dates to 1525 when Esteban Gomez of Portugal (himself a Captain on Magellan's round-the-world voyage) was commissoned by Spanish King Carlos V to find the Northwest Passage to the Orient. Bangor wasn't permanently settled by Europeans until the late 1760's as a fishing and fur trading post. Shortly after Maine became a state in 1820, the availability of huge quantities of lumber turned Bangor into one of the busiest ports on the East Coast. However, with the advent of steam powered and steel ships, sawmills and wooden ships were no longer needed in large numbers. Later, however, downtown Bangor became one of the first cities in the country to have a trolley system and the city was a retail haven for people in the area. 1911 was a tough year for the Queen City, as notes : "In spite of the Great Bangor Fire of 1911, which destroyed much of the downtown area, and several disastrous floods, Bangor remains the cultural center for Central and Eastern Maine.  Tourists enjoy visiting it’s many surviving historical sites, such as the early 19th century homes of  lumber barons of the past, the Isaac Farrar Mansion/Symphony House, the Bangor House, (once known as Bangor’s finest hotel) where crowds were addressed by such Presidents as Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft..." Bangor today is home to author Stephen King and also houses the Hollywood Slots Casino. (I don't know if Big Steve goes there or not...:) ). With a census count of approaching 32,000 in 2000 and large retailers and restaurants in town, Bangor has all the amenities of a big city with the pace of a small town. Plus it sits on the banks of the Penobscot River. Fish.Fear.Me. The Queen City - the Crown Jewel of Central and Eastern Maine.

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