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Bangor Attractions and Things to See

Bangor, Maine is the biggest cultural and commercial center for the eastern and northern regions of the state, becoming the third most populated city in the state, and has been for over a century, sitting some 30 miles from Penobscot Bay up the Penobscot River where it confluences with the Kenduskeag Stream. A bridge links it to its sister city of Brewer, where you can head up the coast to Ellsworth and then Bar Harbor; with other suburban towns that include; Orono, where the University of Maine campus sits, Veazie, Old Town, Glenburn, Hampden and Hermon.

In the 19th century, it would prosper as a timber port, and eventually start calling itself the lumber capital of the world, even though the majority of the sawmills would be located in other towns upriver, with as many as 300 to 400 located in the area, with Bangor controlling the supplies, entertainment, capital and port facilities. The most prominent markets for their lumber would be in the East coast cities of Boston and New York, but quite a bit of it would be shipped to the Caribbean, and then become very active during the gold rush in California, going around Cape Horn; but that was before lumber mills could be started in California, Washington and Oregon. Bangorians would transplant the Maine culture of lumbering to the Pacific northwest, and some partook of the gold rush themselves. A few of the legacies of these contacts would create the towns of Bangor, California, Little Bangor, Nevada and Bangor, Washington.

The city is well known in the New England area for its outstanding cultural events and institutions like the Bangor Public Library that was founded in 1883 and traced its start to 1830 when seven books would be discovered in a footlocker, and today has a magnificent collection of more than half a million volumes, often recording one of the highest circulation rates in the nation. Inside Norumbega Hall in the downtown area, the University of Maine Museum of Art contains a permanent collection of more than 6500 artworks that include beautiful works by Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Berenice Abbott, Marsden Hartley, Carl Sprinchorn and John Marin. In the old Freezes' Department store building, the Maine Discovery Museum would open in 2001 to become a significant children's museum, while the Bangor Museum and Center for History houses excellent exhibits and manages the historic Thomas A. Hill House. The local police department even boasts of their police museum that contains some items that date back to the 18th century, and the fire department has their Fire Museum in the old State Street Fire Station. The city has learned from the past that the best place to house museums is in historical locations that amplify the significant collections housed there.

The city has numerous performing arts venues and groups that include the Bangor Symphony Orchestra that was founded in 1896, and the oldest continually operating symphony orchestra in the country. Its Bangor Band was founded in 1859 and has been performing for folks since then without stopping, and provides free weekly concerts in the city's parks during the summer months, when the weather is beautiful. The Penobscot Theater company was founded in 1973 is a professional theater company that is housed in the historic Bangor Opera House. The Collins Center for the Arts is situated in the University of Maine campus, and it hosts many great touring performing artists and events, while the River City Cinema hosts a marvelous free outdoor summer film festival in the downtown area. The University of Maine, that is just nine miles away in Orono, adds many venues to the city's culture. The city has begun a number of public art venues located throughout the city that is sure to gain any visitors' approval, and since it is a small city, compared to many in the nation, it is a wonderful place to just take a walk and see what you can find.

It is host to many exciting and interesting events as well, like the Bangor State Fair that begins at the last Friday in July and has been going on for over a 150 years, making it one of the oldest fairs in the country, featuring live performances, carnival attractions and agricultural displays. It hosts the National Folk Festival, and in 2005 began hosting the American Folk Festival that is now a yearly event at the waterfront. It started the first annual KahBang Music and Art Festival in 2009 and its annual Bangor Book Festival brings Maine based writers to the Bangor Public Library and for those of you that didn't know it, Stephen King lives in the city occasionally.