Bangor lies approximately 30 miles from Penobscot Bay up the Penobscot River. Located over 500 miles from the southern border of Maine, Bangor was located too far north to be considered a desirable farming location by early European setters. On the other hand, its richly forested surroundings made it an ideal location for lumbering, which drove its growth in the 19th century.
The third most populous Maine city, Bangor’s location became strategically important in the 20th century because it lies along the most direct air route between the East Coast of the US and Europe. Dow Air Force Base was established here and later converted to Bangor International Airport, making the city easily accessible for visitors from many areas. Bangor is conveniently located along I-95, US 1, US 2 and State Route 15, and daily bus service is offered to Boston, MA; Portsmouth, NH; and St. John, New Brunswick.
In 1775, Bangor was the site of treaty negotiations between European settlers and the Penobscot natives, who were driven from their lands and forced to settle in a nearby village, which remains the site of Penobscot Nation. In 1779 during the American Revolution, the British fleet burned and captured at least nine ships, the last of the rebel Penobscot Expedition, at Bangor. Paul Revere was one of the survivors who fled into the woods. Artifacts from the sunken ships are still being discovered in the river bed.
Heavily anti-slavery, Bangor and surrounding towns figured prominently in the Civil War. Mustered in Bangor, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more soldiers than any other regiment during the war. Charles Boutelle, a Bangor native, accepted the surrender of the Confederate fleet following the Battle of Mobile Bay.
In the early 20th century, Bangor’s major industry changed from lumber to paper. Most of the downtown was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1911, but the city rebounded quickly. While some of the city’s historic character was lost due to urban renewal projects in the 1960s, recent redevelopment of the city’s waterfront area has proven successful.
Things to Do in Bangor
Sections of Bangor are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while museums, bookstores, galleries, cafes and restaurants are evidence of downtown revitalization. The University of Maine Museum of Art features a collection of over 6,500 items, including works by noted Maine artists Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth and Berenice Abott. Bangor is home to the largest children’s museum north of Boston, the Maine Discovery Museum. Every summer Bangor plays host to the American Folk Festival. The Bangor Symphony Orchestra is one of the Nation’s oldest community orchestras. It was established in 1896 and has been playing continuously since. These are just a few of the wonderful things that await you in Bangor, Maine.
July is usually the warmest month, with temperatures averaging a mild 69.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and January the coldest month with average temperatures of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. November is typically the wettest month, with an average of 3.69 inches of precipitation, while February is the driest with an average of 2.54 inches.