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.

Texas Tidbits : The Concho City

San Angelo
If you read more than one post on this blog, then you know that I am a trees and water kind of guy, like in East Texas. For some unknown reason, however, the rugged beauty of the desert has a bit of a mysterious hold on me. I can't explain it, other than to say it's a sort of sagebrush voodoo or something. Segue to San Angelo. San Angelo is one of those places where it's not quite desert and  it's not in the Piney Woods or Big Thicket, I could live there and be happy. It doesn't exactly hurt my feelings that there is a state park and O C Fischer Lake lies within the park and snuggles up right next to the San Angelo city limits. The city got its humble beginnings when after the Civil War, Fort Concho was established as an outpost to protect the flood of settlers heading west to find their fortunes. At one time Fort Concho was home to the Black Cavalry, which the local Native Americans called the "Buffalo Soldiers", earning great respect from the white soldiers they served with and, of course, the Indians. In those days, San Angelo was a trading center for settlers in the area, but as states "The discovery of oil and gas, the influx of light manufacturing, the initial development of a communications center, the establishment and growth of Angelo State University, and the growth of the medical community provided diversification to a growing community. Today, this city of 90,000 is the trade and services hub of a 13 county area, supported by agriculture, manufacturing, education, business and health services, military, tourism, and retirement." Geographically, San Angelo is almost the bull's eye on the dartboard that is Texas and it ain't far from being a bull's eye on the dart board of places to live.

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